Real Controversy? Or Ginned Up by the Media?

There’s been articles in both the Washington Post and The Guardian about how NRA is split over the whole Castile police shooting. Personally, I think it’s better for NRA not to go off half-cocked at events like this until all the facts are in. For events like this, it’s often good to look at what NRA News is saying, since they are NRA’s official unofficial spokespeople (meaning they say things NRA can’t since they don’t officially speak for the NRA):

NRA is always going to be reluctant to risk coming across as anti-cop because a) police and former police compromise a decent percentage of the membership, and b) when NRA has gone up against law enforcement in the past, NRA has lost. You can lament that state of affairs, but it is the state of affairs.

NRA is never going to have a knee jerk reaction to events like this, and to be honest, they shouldn’t. The Civil Rights Defense Fund often takes cases involving people, and yes, even black people, who’s civil rights were unjustly violated, but they are very careful about which cases they back. Again, they should be.

I think the division is not necessarily ginned up by the media, but is real. NRA is a coalition, just like any other movement, and we don’t all come to this issue from the same set of principles. There are libertarian NRA members, like myself and I suspect a lot of readers, who are very concerned with civil liberties and police overreach. But there are also a lot of NRA members who are populist and think the police can do no wrong. The folks in Fairfax have to be concerned with keeping these people focused on the issue and not at each other’s throats. That’s not an easy job.

12 thoughts on “Real Controversy? Or Ginned Up by the Media?”

  1. I believe the media is exaggerating the controversy.

    One tell is that in the above articles a lot of the “internal revolt” /proved/ by taking social media posts of NRA members that date to before the NRA issued a statement.

    In other words members went “Hey NRA you should make a statement!” And then the NRA did.

    That’s not saying there isn’t disagreement but one thing to keep in mind is that the media et al. have a hard time comprehending that the NRA isn’t a pure top-down organization.

    Also much of this is from a catch-22. As the same folks who said the NRA responded too quickly post Orlando are going off about how the NRA was too slow recently.

    (But in what world is 24-48 hours *too slow*?)

  2. In pretty much all of the police shootings that have so enraged BLM over the last year or so, I was pretty solidly on the side of police.

    With respect to Phil Castile, though, I have seen no evidence that he posed a threat to the officer, and nothing credible about his background that suggests that’d he be likely to have.

    OTOH, I have seen credible reports of serious problems with how this department in particular has responded to licensed carriers:

    1. When I was doing the police volunteer thing, we had access to their training program. I did the class on avoiding friendly fire. It was mostly for officers in plain clothes out of the jurisdiction dealing with other officers who don’t know them. Basic advice was “don’t be a dick”. But the trainer took advantage of my presence to talk about officer interaction with CCW holders. Made me feel better but department training varies. That said, the complaint noted was really about officer safety, not interaction with armed members of the public.

      1. His lawyer has given a couple of statements regarding the cop’s side of the story.

  3. And if the NRA issued a statement right away, they would say “SEE! They are politicizing it already!!”

    I’m glad they want a few days for more facts to come out.

  4. the NRA and NRA-ILA are trying very hard to pander to the professional police (state) lobby and contingent of their membership. Like gun owners, LE can be very “cliquish” or tribal and doubly so for the so called leadership of these departments who have their own distinct lobby. Were the NRA or ILA to take a strong position on this, it would jeopardize the cozy relationship between these often at odds factions.

    That coziness has certainly impeded progress on gun laws over the years and continues to do so. That’s why grassroots groups tend to be more active on these types of issues, more vocal about it and more willing to call out bad behavior by police departments.

    PH2: Politicizing an issue for the benefit of the people is what civil rights groups are supposed to do. For years, our side has been engaged in a mental masturbation exercise attempting to bury the anti-gun shrill, emotional cries with fact based arguments and minutiae.

    Their side doesn’t care about facts because their side knows that facts don’t matter in lobbying for legislation ! All you need is a compelling narrative and something to tug at peoples heartstrings. Legislators and bureaucrats don’t respond to facts and statistics. After all, 100% of murder victims are dead and no longer eligible to vote…

    Sitting on the sidelines patiently waiting for the facts to come out does several bad things.
    – it frustrates the membership
    – It allows the other side to begin the narrative, establish the boundaries of the “discussion”
    – it puts our side in a perpetual state of defense, doomed to never repeal any bad laws.
    – by the time the full facts come out, if they ever do, the public outrage as well as the membership outrage has passed, making the event impossible to use politically.

    Unsavory? yes. Unfortunate? yes. But sadly, politics and political advocacy are arenas in which nice guys often finish below first.

  5. Anybody remember the heat NRA took for “Jackbooted storm troopers” after Waco? Once burned, twice shy. (And yes, I know that Democrat congressman John Dingell originally said that phrase.)

  6. “there are also a lot of NRA members who are populist and think the police can do no wrong.”

    What you are saying is the NRA has to try to keep the most members happy — or else, what?

    The thing you are alluding to sounds like a slippery slope to me. I’ve been involved, at least peripherally, with several gun rights organizations that applied the logic, “We can’t do Good Works without money, and so we can’t offend potential/existing donors/members.” But before too long, the focus of almost everything they did was fundraising, as Good Works slipped into the background or were abandoned totally.

    The gun rights of cops don’t need protecting. They make their own rights as they go along. The gun rights of civilians, including black CCW holders, do need protecting. So, what exactly is the object of keeping cop-members and their fans happy? Protecting rights, or protecting head count and resulting cash flow?

    1. Or else the membership revolts and/or leaves, or just goes passive. The NRA’s power is in their members.

      And the NRA has a really good reason to not tick off the police lobbying organizations – they’re quite powerful in their own right.

  7. What the NRA should have done is released a statement within 24 hours saying, “This appears to be the shooting of a CCW, which is a concern to us. We are watching this carefully and awaiting more information”. But to say nothing for over 3 days? It’s a clear statement that NRA cares more about police relations than it does ordinary gun owners. Maybe LaPierre thinks law enforcement is the well-regulated militia the founders were referring to.

    I’m sending my money to Second Amendment Foundation and CalGuns. As a bonus, they won’t send me junk mail offers for credit cards and life insurance.

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