No Such Thing as an NRA Membership Giveaway

Our opponents always seem to have a hard time believing NRA actually has 4 million members. Well, Brady Board member Joan Peterson is no exception to that rule, and I was amused a few days ago when she suggested that it was all a lie, because a friend of hers got a free membership in the mail. I was even more amused when she updated with what she thinks is proof positive.

What she is seeing is not a membership card. A membership card has a member number on it. It has an expiration date on it (unless you’re a life member, in which case your card says so). What she is seeing is a membership offer, which will come upon sending in the payment. This would be like if Joan had taken a picture of one of those flimsy credit cards the credit card companies send you in the mail with the application, and was trying to prove they are just giving away unsolicited charge cards. But go try using that flimsy thing at a store and see what they do.

NRA uses a lot of techniques to entice people to join, and there certainly exist clubs who require NRA membership (mine is one of them, but the vast majority of gun clubs are not 100% clubs) to join. But they cannot, according to their bylaws, give away free memberships. From the bylaws:

The dues or minimum contributions of each class of membership shall be fixed by the Board of Directors. Except for those persons who are lifetime members elected prior to July 1, 1979, all members of all classes with addresses not within the domestic United States may be required to pay the additional postage costs necessary for Association mailings to their stated addresses. The imposition of such requirement and the amount of such costs shall be determined administratively from time to time.

There is no free class of membership that NRA offers, with the exception of honorary life member, of which they are only permitted to give away three of in any given calendar year. NRA has, in the past, had a program by which active duty members of the military could receive complimentary memberships, but because of the bylaw requirement, those memberships had to be sponsored by existing members. I sponsored two memberships of this kind myself, and had to pay the full price set by the board on behalf of these military men and women.

NRA has among the strictest membership criteria for any organization in DC. Much more strict, I would point out, than the Brady Campaign. How many of the members the Brady Campaign touts are dues paying members? Does Brady issue membership cards with member numbers? Sorry Joan, the numbers are real, and I would wager a rather large amount of money more real than the Brady membership numbers.

36 thoughts on “No Such Thing as an NRA Membership Giveaway”

  1. FWIW, that’s the ‘associate membership’ card.
    The NRA is offering associate memberships for free (a $15 value, they say) here:

    and their membership FAQ state: “Q: What is the difference between Regular and Associate Memberships?
    A: Associate Membership has all the benefits of Regular Membership except Associate Members do not receive a magazine, cannot participate in NRA elections, and cannot hold office within the NRA.”

  2. Didn’t the NRA offer to waive the first year’s dues for new members a few years ago, maybe around 2008?

  3. Wow. That’s well into the “needs help” level of obsession. If it weren’t focused on eroding civil rights, I’d actually feel some pity.

    Anyway, only about 5% of US gun owners belong to the NRA. Maybe they can do for NRA membership what they’ve done for gun sales :)

  4. I think it was ’09 that they waived the first year’s dues for new members; that was how I got my initial membership.

  5. They still have to charge for associate memberships. You’ll note the asterisk over the Annual Meeting that says it’s restricted to “Active Members.” Basically they are giving you a free e-news letter, and some other benefits, but to get an actual membership, you have to send back the application and pay the dues.

    And I would note that a membership where the first year is deferred is not the same as what she’s suggesting, which is they are giving away memberships unsolicited.

  6. Like you, I have paid for some first timers in the US Coast Guard.
    I can show her 6 membership cards from my house alone. 2 life and 4 yearly if she wants to see them. Some NRA recruiters offer discounts on Life and if you know what you are doing you can move up the Life giving ladder by attending the Annual Meeting and buying tickets priced at discount rates to elevate your status.

    But FREE….. Never!

    She is wrong, again!

  7. I read the transcript of Obama’s speech, and the nearest I can figure out is that China over-estimated demand, so his Chinese backers ordered him to give the speech, to boost sales of Chinese made magazines, guns, ammo and accessories.

  8. “Well, Brady Board member Joan Peterson is no exception to that rule,”

    I find it kinda funny and I find it kinda sad, that she doesn’t have the brain power to understand this or many other issues. Part of this is lack of a real education and the lack of curiosity and intellectual integrity, but a good part of it is simply a lack of intelligence. Again and again I see her just not grasping simple concepts, far too many to be just her emotions interfering with her reasoning. Her blog is a fascinating window in the minds of average Americans.

  9. @Sebastian – I think you might be wrong in this case. For a while there, the NRA did have a promotion for a free “associate membership”. The associate membership is a non-voting membership. And I think that is why they were able to give it away free.

  10. P. Henry – I agree with all that except your last sentence. Ms. Peterson is not an “average american,” she’s an ideologue, and it’s clear that the positions she advocates are routinely rejected by most Americans.

    She speaks for herself only, and in part, for the Brady bunch. And yes, they’re fact challenged; but that, however, is not by ignorance, it’s by design. They know full well that on actual facts, they lose. The Brady bunch and their allies DEPEND on the ignorance of people to advance their agenda.

    They depend on many people not understanding the difference between an AR-15 and a “machine gun.” They depend on most people not understanding the truth and the realities of what they mislabel the “gun show loophole.” They depend in keeping people misinformed; because the more informed people are, the less they back the gun-banners agenda.

    That’s why engaging these folks regularly, thoughtfully, and factually is so important. When they’re confronted with actual facts, they lose. Every time.

  11. NUGUN, the associate membership is $10. There’s a section in the bylaws that deals with this reduced rate membership.

    What you might be thinking of is the member offer listed in the first comment. However, Sebastian make an excellent point as a response – taking advantage of that “free” membership doesn’t really get you anything than on a newsletter list. There are some notations about being an “active” associate member that certain imply you’ll have to fork over the $10 at some point down the road to actually be considered a member.

  12. Part of the problem is that we try and respond with reason, facts, law, etc. But in many ways, it’s like dealing with a religious zealot whose belief system is such a part of their core that no amount of evidence or reason can penetrate it. I don’t know if there’s a better way to respond to irrational people who are acting on feelings and emotion instead of facts. But I think presenting facts and having them met with emotional pleas does work in our favor.

  13. Engaging these people in debate is not only to attempt to change their minds (as this is often impossible) but it is so that those listening to them recieve the truth and mey be swayed.

  14. If you were to douse her in NRA brand gasoline and light it, she’d deny she was on fire.

    She’s just that gone. Really.

  15. Engaging these people in debate is not only to attempt to change their minds (as this is often impossible) but it is so that those listening to them recieve the truth and mey be swayed.

    Sometimes it’s just showing how little they know. Other times it’s just pointing and laughing at the spectacle.

  16. Well, I’d also venture to say that Japete’s entire traffic comes from us gunnies plus MikeVitaminB and Lacy The Wonder It Can Tie Its Shoes Dog.

    I thought about making a wrapper web site to hers so that you’d submit your comment and it’d show up on the wrapper site (as well as automatically submitting it to hers). That way she couldn’t edit or hide comments. But then I realized it was a lot of work for someone who really isn’t more than an annoyance that you must seek out.

  17. So,

    Looking in the SiH archives I see the NRA sends out 1.5+ million ballots a year or so. Those are full voting members, Annual and Life, right?

    Associate memberships cost $10 (now $15 I guess) and are counted in the membership numbers and make up the bulk of the 4+ million. Is that broken out anywhere?

    To receive the “free” membership you have to actively respond to their offer, thus make a positive step toward membership. You aren’t one simply by getting the letter.

    After all, the NRA sends out multiple millions of unsolicited direct mailers and membership offers based on voter lists every year. If Japete were right they’d claim all those as “members” as well, like Brady does with anyone they can get an email from, actual application form be damned.

    So, all 4+ million NRA members are solid counts, hell there’s even poll evidence that many gun owners -think- they are in the NRA when they aren’t.

    1. Associate memberships cost $10 (now $15 I guess) and are counted in the membership numbers and make up the bulk of the 4+ million.

      Actually, associate memberships are still $10. That’s another reason to know that link in the first comment is pure marketing. They are claiming it’s worth more because you’ll automatically be signed up for the e-newsletter and maybe some other kind of “benefit,” something that’s not a default to the standard associate member. (Silly, yes. But it’s far more honest than a lot of other crap I get from other groups.)

      More importantly, the do not make up anywhere near the bulk of NRA memberships. The standard $35 members make up the bulk of NRA members. Running into an associate member outside of annual meeting is pretty rare. (It’s only common at the meeting because anyone who attends who isn’t active with NRA at the time can join at the associate level in order to get into the events.)

  18. I have been following the Common Gunsense blog and it always raises my hair from its abuse of the truth. I have to respectfully disagree with the previous comment about Joan Peterson being an “average” American. As noted, she is an ideologue and a mental midget, too. Seriously, she needs to take a basic statistics course to realize just how invalid her “evidence” is. Her ranting and censorship also does not advance her cause. Just to spite her, I sent in a contribution to the NRA-ILA (legislative action fund) so we can trounce her and her ilk some more.

  19. Looking in the SiH archives I see the NRA sends out 1.5+ million ballots a year or so. Those are full voting members, Annual and Life, right?

    Voting members are life members, and annual members who have 5 unbroken years of membership.

  20. Because this reminded me – will you be doing a NRA board voting guide thingmy this year, Sebastian?

    Crap, I need to go dig out that American Rifleman before it gets trashed…

  21. I think that some of them are so damaged that they’re incapable of realizing or accepting that they are wrong (I believe that the subject of this post falls into that category). But there are definitely others who lie through their teeth – using semi-auto and full-auto interchangeably for instance. For them, they probably think that if a few lies can save lives (by their twisted logic anyway) then it’s worth it. But they need an ignorant audience for this to work well. So the best we can do is to educate people and give our opposition plenty of opportunities to show themselves for the liars or the obsessed fanatics that many of them are.

  22. Remember — 1 April is “No Traffic to Anti Gun Blogs” day! 72 hour blockade… I bet their hits would drop to single digits over night if the pro-gun crowd stopped looking.

  23. You guys don’t give japete enough credit. She’s not dumb or deluded. It’s not easy to keep up the “common sense” and “my hunting friends don’t agree with the gun nuts” schtick and remain civil.

    Her primary goal is to give the antis a veneer of engaging in reasonable discourse and lets you play the extremist marionette. I’ll bet the only reason she posts reasoned centrist stuff from folks like Sebastian on occasion is so she can deflect truthful criticism that she censors a good bit of stuff she doesn’t like.

  24. I think Johnnysquire hit the nail. It’s a false-flag that keeps waving when there’s no breeze only because the stick keeps moving…

  25. Does NRA do a breakout on membership numbers by type? I’m actually curious now.

  26. Membership numbers aren’t a public information, so they don’t publish it. Think about it… if NRA had a drop in membership of even 10,000 people, the media would be talking about how it’s a sign NRA’s best years are behind it, and surely now is the time to push gun control. They claim 4 million. If you look at their Form 990s sent to the IRS, based on the number reported on the tax form for membership dues, it’s at least 3.3 million, which means the real number, once you take into account lifers, associates, juniors, and the number of people who pay ahead multiple years, is probably at least close to the claimed number. Joan doesn’t seem to want to accept this.

  27. Thanks Sebastian.

    Chris brought up the polling data that says millions of more people think they are NRA members but aren’t. I gave her a link to the cached Zogby page.

    It also helpfully points out that 60% of the NRA membership is Democrat or Independent.

    With that though my fact-checking urge is satisfied.

  28. Two years ago the NRA was offering free memberships though they were non unsolicited. You had to click on a website link to get to it but they were full, 1 year memberships with a magazine choice and membership kit in the mail.

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