Reality Check on the NRA Hate

I noticed some have taken my criticism of some aspects of NRA’s performance on Friday to hate on the NRA in general, and Wayne LaPierre in particular. It was my intention to offer some constructive criticism, rather than be a funnel for NRA hate. Because to be honest, we do not have time for this.

You go to war with the NRA and the Wayne LaPierre you have, not the NRA and Wayne LaPierre you want. And we are going to war. We are arrayed against the entire left-wing apparatus, and they mean to extract their pint of blood. They mean to extract gallons of it from us if they can get away with it. While the independent grassroots action we’ve seen this week is a huge components of the battle plan, you still need what NRA can bring to the table, which is specifically a huge network of people who tend to only be peripherally involved in this issue (and this goes beyond their 4 million dues paying members), and access to lawmakers that no other gun rights groups can match, and really no or few other lobbies in DC and the 50 state capitols can match.

I’ve heard a lot of folks saying they’ll just keep donating money to SAF. I do not want to discourage this because SAF is doing some excellent work. It’s important that SAF and the Court strategy be well funded. But understand that is a fallback strategy. If we need SAF, it means we’ve already lost, and are now relying on good lawyering and the Courts to save us where it can. While I have a great deal of faith in the former part of that equation, particularly when it comes to SAF (Alan Gura), I have very little faith in the latter (the Courts). Suggesting donating to SAF is all it takes is the equivalent of, before even seriously engaging the enemy, suggesting we cede the entire battlefield, and retreat to the outskirts of the capital and make a last, desperate stand there. We might have a lot of faith in our generals who will be leading that fight, but it’s not a winning strategy. We fight them here. And NRA is the only organization that has the capability to fight on this ground. So if you have some money to donate to NRA, or can spare the dollars to buy a membership do it!

If you think it’s time for Wayne to retire, or think NRA’s performance here or there left a lot to be desired, we can have those discussions after we’re out of danger. We do not have time right now to scream for Wayne’s head on a platter. The opposition is going to see replacing generals at this point as a sign of weakness and disarray. It can only serve to provoke a broader and more fierce attack. We’re going to war, and this is the NRA we have, and more importantly, this is the NRA we can win with. But only if we hang together, because our alternative is to surely hang separately. There is certainly time to discuss strategy, and offer constructive criticism about where we each individually we think the movement should go, but as for pooh flinging, there is no time for that.

34 thoughts on “Reality Check on the NRA Hate”

  1. Question for those who’ve been in the movement longer than I have:

    What was the NRA’s involvement reacting to and/or preventing the 1994 AWB?

    1. I was 20 years old when it passed, but they fight for many years against the AWB movement, and eventually lost culminating in 1994 when Clinton managed to ram it through Congress. If it wasn’t for NRA, you’d a) still be living under an assault weapons ban (because NRA opposition is what lead to needing to offer up a sunset to get the needed votes) and b) it’d likely be more like California’s ban than what we ended up with. I also believe the initial magazine limit was to be 5 rounds, not 10.

      You don’t always have a choice between stopping something and not stopping something. Sometimes the choice is between bad and worse. NRA never supported any assault weapons ban, but their opposition and maneuvering meant we got one that wasn’t as bad as could have been feared, and that came with a built in expiration.

      1. The NRA needs to step up and make it clear that we have tens of thousand of well trained and now out of work G.I’s who could step right into a school security roll after acquiring the mandated state training. While I’m not in favor of adding more school employees, this is a case where it might make sense. It would also make sense to contract out this service until each school finalize its strategy to bring on school security on a full time basis.

        1. The Left would scream PTSD; the NRA’s current stated approach sounds a lot better, say “armed guards” but don’t get too specific now, leave open the possibilities of even teachers and administrators (which it looks like some more states and school districts are going to try), and have some concrete proposals a little later, before or around the time Joe Biden’s commission has anything to say.

    2. ExurbanKevin: I’m a bit older than our host, have been fighting this since I was a pre-teen in the early-mid ’70s after reading a … Guns and Ammo ? article on the excesses of the BATF with their shiny new GCA of ’68 (and, yes, we really did have to pass the FOPA of ’86 at almost any cost or we probably wouldn’t be having this discussion now).

      With the exception of one trial balloon or off script moment (note Heston has always been a gun grabber, he campaigned for the GCA of ’68 along with some other Westerns actors, and you never saw him doing the “cold, dead hands” routine with anything modern), to my knowledge the NRA has been absolutely unwavering in its opposition to AWBs including Clinton’s in 1994.

      Which is astonishing: prior to that, every major piece of Federal anti-gun legislation had passed with the NRA’s approval (the usual “compromise” where we lose less than was originally proposed, except of course for the poison pill no new machine guns in the FOPA of ’86 (see above)). And they continued that as recently as the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting after which they (evidently) panicked and worked with our worse enemy in the House on a truly bad bill (we were saved by pro-gun types in the Senate, Tom Coburn R(OK) in particular, the only current Congresscriter I totally trust on this issue, he’s enough into it that he got involved in the M4 mess).

      DO NOT join the NRA for general opposition to gun control, at the Federal or state level (this forum is particularly good on the latter, after one abject betrayal, one big enough I independently heard about it at the time, as I understand it the NRA state representative had to physically leave the state for a while).

      DO NOT just join the NRA and pay them $35 for any other purpose than adding to the number of members they can cite; I can supply details, but they’ll probably spend more money on your membership than they’ll get from you (if you have a very small P.O. Box be sure to empty it more frequently). But doing that at this time is worth it, after they didn’t wave the white flag on Friday I rejoined after many years, I do trust them to fight AWBs.

      Plus you have to contribute to the right part depending on what you want. Like most such nonprofits, due to tax laws (501(c)) they have 3 primary arms, the educational part, the NRA proper, the lobbying part, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA), and a PAC for direct political contributions to politicians (which in most cases I’m sure is more symbolic than anything else, given the small and not inflation adjusted contribution limits).

      Hmmm, I’m not sure which unit (or if there’s a new one) that does general, “uncoordinated” with any campaign electioneering.

  2. Some good points, especially about strategic donation preference for NRA.

    However, a federal mandate (whether funded or unfunded) for armed school guards has gone over like a lead balloon among left, right, and center. Speaking for some of the opposition on the right, it is an expensive and heavy-handed federal solution to a statistically insignificant (though horrifying) issue. In summation, it has the twin demerits of being both bad policy and being emotionally unacceptable to the left (and much of the center).

    1. a federal mandate (whether funded or unfunded) for armed school guards has gone over like a lead balloon among left, right, and center.

      Where’s the evidence for this? Polling shows that is not the case, and I doubt it’s changed that much in a few days.

      My dad is right of center, and doesn’t like the plan, but my dad is also not a “something must be done!” type, and I’m not going to make the mistake of thinking he’s anything other than one out of 150 or so million data points that represent voters as a whole.

      1. Well, that’ll teach me to base my perceptions off the media… I of all people should have known better than that.

        Still, I think it’s bad policy. I hear figures of $8bn and $20-something bn being thrown around. Leave it to local control.

        To those who are for this policy, are you arguing that it is actually good policy, or that passing a federal school guard mandate will help keep something worse from being enacted?

        1. I’m not sure there needs to be any policy answer to something as rare as an event like this, as sad as it might be. But the “something must be done” motive is powerful. You need to have solutions. Like I said before, the response to this isn’t going to be “Cest la vie”

          1. Exactly. A great outcome would be two bills, the gun-grabbing one and the NRA’s, and neither passing, the latter since it’s too expensive. Although I don’t know that the NRA would actually push for such a bill; especially in the Senate it could be poison-pilled, perhaps depending on Reid and whatever new rules come into play in the next Congress next month.

    2. I am well right of center, especially on fiscal issues. To me this makes all the sense in the world. Right now, in my school district, security is handled by someone with an education degree and classroom background. This makes no sense to me. The best they’ve come up with is a clear backpack rule and students wearing ID around their necks – not only a waste of money but does nothing for school security.

  3. Using a civil war clip as an analogy is probably a bad idea, given that the Union couldn’t really get anything done until they finally put Grant in charge…

    1. I wasn’t so much making a direct analogy to the Civil War (given the side featured in the clip lost, ultimately), but making a point about needing to go to war with the army you have. Lee couldn’t spare Stuart, despite the fact that he left the army down at a key moment of need. There was not time for that. The die was cast, and he needed to go into that battle with the leadership he had.

      Generally speaking, NRA has done very well since Wayne took over in 1991. A lot of the infighting over Wayne’s leadership in NRA’s past has been highly destructive to the organization’s effectiveness, and is part of the reason today it’s more difficult for membership to change anything. I do not wish to revisit any of those battles right now. As far as I’m concerned, Wayne has earned the right to retire on his own terms.

      I am not calling for Wayne to step down or retire, but I am asking him to more carefully consider his rhetoric and reconsider his style. His speech at the press conference sounded like something that was written by committee, and we can’t have that kind of leadership during this crisis. But first and foremost we need unity. This is not the time for division.

  4. Sebastian — you’re right about the NRA being an effective organization to fight, but I remain unconvinced about La Pierre being an effective spokesman.

    If we’re going to Civil War analogies, it wasn’t until Lincoln got rid of McClellan and a string of ineffective generals who were busy fighting the last war until he found a general who, whatever his flaws, was willing and able to use the resources he had to beat Lee.

  5. And, if you can’t bring yourself to donate to the NRA – match your donation to the SAF with a donation to the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep And Bear Arms (CCRKBA.ORG ), SAF’s sister organization that can and does do “all that political stuff.”

    The NRA has a place at the table, a big one. So do SAF and CCRKBA – SAF as the legal leading edge of the 2A community and CCRKBA as a second political outreach and advocacy group.

    The one thing we can’t do and win is fight amongst ourselves. Save the backbiting until 2017, when perhaps we will have a President that is not actively out to impose “Chicago Rules” on the nation.

    1. I really encourage people to bring themselves to donate to NRA-ILA. CCRKBA is a fine organization, but I guarantee if you go start asking hill staffers, most of them likely never heard of them. Everyone has heard of NRA, and they care what NRA thinks about matters.

      1. Agreed on the CCRKBA; of that group’s organizations, the only worthwhile place to put your money is the SAF, since they’re the best at lawsuits. And they run a very important Gun Rights Policy Conference.

      2. Looks like the NRA-ILA is as I suspected their electioneering organization, e.g. they have clips of ads they’ve produced against various gun-grabbers and anti-hunters (when it comes to national level politicians, its safe to assume they’re one and the same and that lever is worth using). Note the use of these in the 8 weeks before a Federal election was outlawed by McCain-Feingold, that part of it was eventually reversed by the Supremes Citizens United.

        Found this out while I was making what is for me a maximum monthly donation to it (in fact, the largest single political donation I’ve ever made); if they continue to fight a no-compromises battle against new Connecticut inspired AWBs they’ll continue to get donations.

        Note, I would suspect they need money now, things could get hot in January.

  6. Wayne did all right for a man who had been biting his tongue all week. Who of us held our fire for a week – we were right into it, weren’t we? And that was as it should have been. We don’t have the massive organizational responsibility that Wayne has; we’re the first responders when there’s an issue involving gun rights.
    Wayne wisely refrained from putting more fuel on the fire. The hysteria needed to quiet down, and he gave them a week, but they still savaged him in the press. “Craziest Man on Earth” was the headline on the front page of the New York Daily News. That’s what they call you when you’re the sanest man alive. They trashed his advocacy of armed security in schools, but that will become the norm – it’s already happening. The antis will still hate him, but he will be proved right on that issue.

    Chris Cuomo, the son of former New York Governor Mario Cuomo, was on the uberliberal TV show, “The View”, he advocated the same thing Wayne did, and he owned that conversation. They had to listen to him because he‘s a liberal, and they didn’t‘ like it, but they did listen to him and they didn‘t call him crazy:

    Here’s a some professional support for Wayne’s position:

    It’s going to be hard, and it’s going to hurt, and we have a lot of work to do, but freedom is winning, and ultimately, freedom will be the winner.

  7. Pretty much the conclusion I have come to. If you keep track of your commentators, you will remember that I was big time hacked off that the NRA endorsed Romney. Still am but leaving now feels like desertion in the face of the enemy. So I will re-up my membership. Will try to find some extra money for the SAF as well. But for war in the trenches there is just nothing like the NRA. We have other voices that are better at the public stuff and should use them. I did use my invitation to comment from LaPierre to urge a transition from cops to school staff. Nothing wrong with cops except there will never be enough of them. Just like on the street. You are the first responder, cops are the second. School staff polled better than AWB though not as good as cops.

  8. The attitude expressed in this article is so desperate, so pathetic, so hopeless that all of us should read the writing on the wall and form a new lobby. One that will REPRESENT the attitudes of most gun owners, not dictate them as the NRA insisted on doing.

    “Wayne” and the NRA are responsible for most of the severity seen in the current public backlash. Most of us shooters don’t deserve the viscous public reaction that many of us are feeling first hand. But the NRA does.

    I won’t waste words here on how he polarized the gun control debate and made all of us shooters look like lunatics in the eyes of non shooters (aka, in the eyes of the majority of people). The NRA has been digging their own political grave for the last 30 years and now the chickens are coming home to roost.

    1. And what exactly is your beef? NRA is defending the guns I use for competition and self-protection. I don’t speak for them, they speak for me, and for millions of other people.

  9. I re-joined the NRA right after Wayne’s speech. No, it wasn’t all that I wanted but it was enough to convince me they’re in this fight and in it hard. I’ll put up with the spam because ultimately Sebastian is correct. There is just no other organization out there with both the assets and recognition to be as effective as we need them to be. Need not want or hope or imagine.

    And there is absolutely a way to start putting armed officers in every school without excessive cost or the threat of it becoming another Homeland Security Department like the TSA. It’s called a volunteer program and virtually every police department in the country has one or could easily implement one. I could set one up in a matter of a few weeks based on existing volunteer/reserve/citizens academy programs. It would be locally implemented, supervised and controlled. The keys on any such proposal is flexibility and accountability.

    We must have answers for those localities which either cannot or will not countenance an armed teacher program which do not rely on the federal government. I’m backing the NRA in this fight. We can talk about organizational changes after the smoke clears.

  10. By the way, kudos on the video choice. That was pretty BFA. I only wish you’d picked one where the characters had gone on to win the battle…or the war.

  11. Marlboro Township in NJ has adopted a council resolution to put an armed police officer in every school in the district as of 1/3. This is a well-to-do bedroom suburb with a large liberal population. I guess they don’t think the NRA is so radical.

    1. I’d be curious how rapidly they process NJ’s firearms paperwork – there are some towns that are reasonably quick about it, and one or two that actually try and make the (ineffective by court decision) statutory deadline to issue. That part of Jersey regularly elects a Republican to the House.

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