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.