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What’s Going on at NRA?

I should preface this by noting that over the past two years, I’ve focused on things other than keeping up with internal NRA gossip and goings on. We still know people there, and still can give some Board members a call to find out what’s going on, but for the most part, I’ve been focused on other things. So people who ask me what’s going on in Fairfax, I don’t likely know more than you do at this point.

That said, I’ve noticed a few things going on at NRA over the past several months. One is that The Trace is actually doing some quality reporting on NRA’s internal issues. Granted, you have to understand the lens through which they want to present things, which is to make NRA look bad generally, but they are doing interesting work if you read it with a critical eye.

Second, whatever is going on at NRA, there are people willing to leak to The Trace either because they are that disgruntled, or to gain the upper hand in internal battles by outing their internal opponents dirty laundry in a way that will cause embarrassment. Either way, it tells me the internal quibbles are bad enough that there are people who think airing dirty laundry to the enemy is better for the organization than letting their internal opposition win. That’s not a good situation to be in.

I know there are reformers out there trying to make a difference, and I’m open to reformers. But I’m not seeing anything out there I feel like I could get behind. So I offer the following advice for reformers, which you can take or leave. I don’t really care either way:

  • If you’re going to come in hard and strong, openly claiming to represent an upending of the status quo, and challenging the Board’s powerful members (I’m talking to you, Adam Kraut), you better be coming with an army behind you. NRA has 76 Board members. One, two, or three people aren’t going to change the Board, and you can absolutely expect any organization to circle the wagons against an avowed revolutionary.
  • Even if you can get one, two, or three reformers on the Board, you’re better off learning the Board’s politics and working with it. At this stage it’s important to not be seen as having personally antagonized people. Otherwise the body is going to do everything they can to keep your reformers out of the loop and keep them as powerless as they can manage.
  • Every organization I’ve ever been involved with has a handful of practices that are culturally destructive. You won’t be able to fix all of them. Take them on one at a time. Your allies for each will probably be different. You may not even be able to get the worst practices. Stick to what’s doable, and what’s doable is going to depend on what you can find allies for.
  • Even people who agree NRA needs reform need to understand the political situation and know what limitations we face. There are times when retreat is necessary. Generals who don’t understand when they need to retreat in battles lose armies and lose wars. You have to know when a position is untenable, and the best option is to fall back and regroup. Here’s an unpleasant truth: bump stocks are not a tenable position. Machine guns or anything that shoots like a machine gun is not a tenable position. Saving semi-automatic rifles is a tenable position, and they are under severe threat in a number of states, such as Washington, Oregon, and probably soon to be Nevada and Colorado. Machine guns were lost in 1934. That was the time to fight, and our grandparents and great-grandparents blew it. We’re in a “save what we can, where we can” situation with respect to machine guns, and the bump stock issue threatens to upend that whole applecart. I just use this issue as an example. But fighting everything, everywhere, all the time, 100% is a recipe for losing. “No compromise” is a recipe for losing. We do not have the numbers to always get our way.

I’m not saying revolution is bad, necessarily. In 1977 it was necessary. Maybe it’s necessary again. But the NRA of today is very different than the NRA of 1977. For one, it’s about 5x larger. Over the years it’s also put mechanisms in place to thwart revolutions. It would be very difficult if not impossible to pull off another Cincinnati Revolt. If there’s NRA is to reform, it’s probably going to come incrementally.

Pick one or two issues. They can be big issues. Even issues that is likely going to make some staffers cringe. But be realistic about what you can achieve. Be very careful about attacking people personally. If you do so, you better be sure doing so will gain you more allies than it’ll cost you. If you’re going to aim for the king, you had better not miss.

70 Responses to “What’s Going on at NRA?”

  1. Joe says:

    “1977” is needed once again, and I think another NRA Convention in the close future should take place here in Ohio, just for a little Nostalgia.

    That said, we recieved no help from the NRA here in Ohio, and although the State of Buckeye State Gun Rights is strong, Buckeye Firearms Association leadership and rank and file membership have “had it” with Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox, and basically the Establishment GOP Figureheads in the NRA. Sherrod Brown could’ve been beaten, and it was all of our State Gun Rights Groups that beat back the Silicon Valley Billionaire Donor Class and Bloomberg Scum who were bankrolling the Democrats here.

    Like the Bush-Cartel in the GOP, it’s time for the NRA’s current leadership to go to the retirement home. The organization, like the Establishment GOP is letting the Maoist Left control the narratives (take “The Gun Lobby” for example) and win the War of Demographics and Culture.

    • Sebastian says:

      If I had a dime for every time I’ve heard “we received no help from the NRA here in XXXX, and although the State Gun Rights is strong” I’d be rich. That bit is never as true as the state gun rights group would lead you to believe. There’s no group out there that’s not going to tell you they aren’t the bee’s knees when it comes to defending your gun rights. I’m not saying every state group’s gripes with NRA are bogus, because sometimes they are right, but more often than not it’s based on NRA cutting necessary deals the state groups don’t appreciate. I’m not impressed by people who tell me we can win every battle if we just say “no” loud enough, and I hear a lot of that from leaders of state groups.

    • J. Weed says:

      The NRA should be fighting national battles vice state ones. If you have the NRA fighting in X number of states, you’ve diluted the resources that much more. Your state org should take care of your own state.

      Then again, if the NRA were a car, the only gear it would have is reverse. Name the last time they went on offense.

      • Sebastian says:

        Not all states have effective state organizations.

      • beatbox says:

        But the states is where most of the ground is being lost.

        • MarkPA says:

          The states are both where most of the ground is being won as well as lost. Largely, we have held our ground in Congress and gained ground in Heller, McDonald and Caetano.

          We gun owners are not good at politics; especially national politics. When we wake up to that fact we might consider getting smart. Until then, we had better maintain the ground we can hold, and that is in the states.

          The long game is the one we have to win. If the long game is played in Congress then it WILL be LOST in one stroke when the House, Senate and President align. Do we remember when they were all in Democrat hands? It won’t be won by RINOs when all three are in GOP hands. Victory will be snatched from us in one of the three venues. E.g., National Reciprocity was simply lost in the Senate.

          If we fight the battle in the 50 states it will be a very long time before the gun-grabbers take the 50’th state. How will they enforce their edicts in Alaska. So, by standing our ground in the states we force Bloomberg to fight state by state.

          Naturally, we are winning in a few states. Notice how Constitutional Carry states are counting up every few years? I think it’s going to be very hard to snuff-out the 2A as the number of ConCarry states keeps incrementing; even slowly.

          I think SCOTUS will rule against May-Issue in a couple of years. That’s the key battle we have to win. It won’t really matter much if we get one AWB after another AWB in the several states if any law-abiding gun owner in every state can get a CWP. At that point, the tide will turn.

          Gun owners in the blue states will largely knuckle-down or ignore the evil-features laws. And, nothing much will happen. Non-gun-owners in the blue states will get used to the fact that gun-owners are carrying – and, no blood-in-the-streets. In that state-of-affairs, gun-ownership and gun-carry will become normalized while gun-controls become a nuisance or are ignored. How do the gun-controllers win in such a state-of-affairs?

    • Maine Constitutional Carry says:

      “That said, we received no help from the NRA here in Ohio…”

      I can only speak about our experience in Maine during the 2016 Bloomberg UBC referendum.

      When the NRA saw how hard we were fighting it, and how many of us were fighting — they came in with a valuable assist for yard signs and other support.

      It was much appreciated, but it was state-level groups like Gun Owners of Maine / Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, and thousands of concerned Mainers that made the critical difference.

      (the reality is that each individual state must carry the heavy load to fight gun control, and push though pro-gun legislation — don’t wait or expect the NRA to do it for you)

      • Alpheus says:

        Just a few months ago, the NRA pulled out support for a Constitutional Carry bill here in Utah. I fully supported their pulling out support, as did our local Gun Rights organization, because State representatives put in provisions that would have made it much easier to be convicted of domestic abuse in such a way that it would have been easy to lose your rights, and the “Constitutional Carry” wasn’t going to be much of an improvement to the current situation, either. (I can’t remember off the top of my head why it wasn’t quite Constitutional Carry, but it wasn’t….)

        One Representative — the one who amended the bill like this — explained that he had no idea why the NRA pulled their support. All he was doing, he said, was making it more likely for the Governor to sign it. Sheesh! With friends like these, who needs enemies?

        Sometimes, the NRA does something stupid. Sometimes they do the right thing. Sometimes the NRA doesn’t get enough credit for what they are doing.

        I also have some sympathy for the NRA in that it was never meant to be a Civil Rights organization, defending our rights from encroachment. Instead, it was meant to be an education/training/outreach organization. It had to be shoehorned into its role by force, due to the attacks made on our rights starting about 100 years ago, and I don’t think the NRA has fully grown into that role yet….

  2. Bitter says:

    Even if you can get one, two, or three reformers on the Board, you’re better off learning the Board’s politics and working with it.

    Even if you could get 25 revolutionaries on the ballot and win every seat up in a year, you’d have to learn to work with the Board’s politics because that group would still be a minority of votes.

  3. Patrick Henry, the 2nd says:

    All good points.

    I don’t know what is going on either.

    I would like to believe there is discontent with the direction of the NRA- specifically getting into culture war issues.

    But I have no idea.

    Even if you think they aren’t great, we still need the NRA.

    • Richard says:

      Guns are a culture war issue. With the possible exception of abortion they are THE culture war issue. And you take your allies where you can find them.

      As we have seen over the years, when the Left wins one battle, they simply move on to the next item on their agenda. Eventually, and it appears to be now, they get to gun control.

      • RAH says:

        Guns are a culture war issue As well as religious freedom, PC control on gender language, and the privacy and ability to say a man is a man and a woman is a woman Guns and Patriotism go together Those of us who take issue with that need to get off the fence

  4. Angus McThag says:

    I get the need to retreat sometimes.

    Do they get the need to advance sometimes?

    They abdicated Florida to whatever residual power Marion Hammer’s cats have and that’s proven to be nothing that protects or advances gun rights.

  5. CarlosT says:

    The roll of the dice with Trump is one I’m still unsure about. On the one hand, while he certainly isn’t a Second Amendment opponent, he isn’t really a supporter, either. On the other hand, the judges he has selected seem like they could be good. However, it’s all vapor right now, and the culture is very anti-gun, which worries me more than any political considerations. If that isn’t addressed somehow, and I have no idea how that would work, then it’s just a matter of time before it’s all over.

    • HappyWarrior6 says:

      No, the culture is NOT anti-gun. That’s simply not the case. And if you in fact believe that garbage, what are you doing to help?

      • MarkPA says:

        I agree that the culture is NOT clearly anti-gun. A very large chunk of the population recognizes that guns are part of the culture that they aren’t interested in doing anything about. That’s good-enough.

        What I’m concerned about is that the last 8 Won’t-Issue states are mostly large population states. That’s a matter of concern because they have votes in the House and in the Electoral College. We ignore these states at our peril.

        Why should voters in these high-population anti-gun states be willing to leave the rest of us alone? They won’t. They can remain isolated being unaware that there are any guns around them.

        Now, change these 8 states to Shall-Issue and plenty of the small percentage of their gun owners will get permits. Gradually, the non-gun-owners in these states will become aware that civilian carry in their malls and town-squares doesn’t imperil their safety. Then, they will gradually join that large segment of the population that doesn’t care enough about guns to do much to try to control them.

        Our task, I think, is to:
        1. – win gun rights cases – especially striking down May-Issue – in SCOTUS;
        2. – get solid control of the US Senate
        Accomplish these two things and the war will largely be won.

    • Sebastian says:

      I think Happy Warrior is right. There has always been anti-gun sentiment out there. The problem the anti-gun movement has is that it doesn’t self-organize (which is not a problem gun owners have had, traditionally). But it can be reached and organized with enough money, which Bloomberg has provided in amounts the movement has never seen before. Gun control has never had the cash at its disposal that it has now.

      • HSR47 says:

        If Bloomberg is truly the lynchpin of the current anti-gun movement, what is likely to happen when he dies?

        He’s apparently signed onto the Gates Foundation’s giving pledge to the tune of at least half of his ~$50,000,000,000 net worth; Assuming that his will actually follows through on this, how is he likely to actually structure this? How much is likely to go to gun control groups.

        If, worst case, the entire post-tax estate is used to fund gun control, what is our plan for handling an opponent getting a sudden $50,000,000,000 cash infusion?

        Given that Bloomberg is 76 years old, could keel over at any point in the next 25 years (his father died at ~57, and his mother died at ~102), these are questions that the organizations on our side of the fight NEED to have answers for.

        In short, how do we fight against an opponent that is living off the interest of a $50,000,000,000 endowment. At typical market returns, that means that they could spend $1,000,000,000 (that’s one billion dollars) every year and STILL add to their endowment. How can we possibly fight that?

        On the other hand, if he DOESN’T do that, and instead only gives them an amount of money that they’ll spend through in a handful of years, AND no other wealthy people stand up to fund gun control on anywhere near the scale that he is currently doing, is there a plan to exploit the sudden money gap?

        • Sebastian says:

          Hope his daughters aren’t as into the issue as he is, and hope if he leaves the money to a foundation its directors and staffers are more interested in coasting along and stretching the funds pretending to accomplish things than actually winning. But his money could stretch for a loooooonnnnng time.

          The strategy to counter this is to point out everywhere we can that the gun control movement is funded almost solely by a handful of billionaires.

          Also, keep in mind once the money is in a foundation, it can’t be used directly electioneering. For tax reasons, most billionaires are going to leave their money to a (c)(3) foundation.

          • HSR47 says:

            I’m not convinced that he’s going to spend his entire estate in one place (he’s definitely vain enough to want his name on lots of buildings), but it’s certainly something we should be thinking about.

            Obviously the best case is that he gives them a significant chunk of money, which they end up blowing through relatively rapidly, before folding due to lack of new funding.

            I certainly hope that latter is what actually ends up happening, but I think it’s unwise to base all our plans for the the future on that eventuality.

            • Patrick Henry, the 2nd says:

              I think Bloomberg is a decent manager of his money. Even if he donates a lot of it, the left is full of grifters latching on to big money groups (see the Women’s March for the most recent example). They’ll waste a lot more of it than Bloomberg would.

  6. Charlie Foxtrot says:

    The NRA is a mismanaged, financially broken and distrusted organization. It will take years of hard work and significant structural changes to fix that. I have my doubts that simply swapping out the Executive VP will accomplish that.

    When it comes to legal challenges, the NRA needs to solicit donations to fund them and then actually spend the donations on these legal challenges. Most donations today fund the NRA and its cronies, not the legal challenges.

    Abolish the NRA Carry Guard insurance! The NRA should be a civil rights organization and not an insurance company. Their dick move against the competition, like the USCCA, just created division in the 2A community.

    Abolish the NRA Carry Guard training program! It is my understanding that it is defunct anyway. Instead, promote the many existing training schools in this country.

    Stop the raffles and donation drives that give away stuff that nobody needs anyway (e.g., bags)! Is the NRA a sweepstakes scam or a civil rights organization?

    Note that all of these points are about NRA’s revenue generators. The NRA drove itself into the ground by chasing these types of revenue generators, instead of concentrating on its core business.

    Stop the culture wars and scare tactics! No more Angry Dana and her Clenched Fist of Truth! You can’t fight for the 2A when you exclude a large portion of the population with your culture wars.

    Have a proactive strategy! Quote: “Here’s an unpleasant truth: bump stocks are not a tenable position. Machine guns or anything that shoots like a machine gun is not a tenable position.” That is exactly the problem. Since 1986, the NRA has done exactly nothing to change that. Waiting for the political opposition to attack you and then respond is not a strategy at all. It is just crisis management.

    Set realistic expectations and don’t make promises that you simply can’t fulfill. So far, we have gotten nothing under President Trump. All these empty promises from the 2016 campaign with the NRA’s backing, and all we will get is a bump stock ban.

    It’s not about “no compromise”, it’s about enough is enough! There isn’t any compromise as we just give in with nothing in return. The NRA’s lack of a strategy is the reason why we are always backed into a corner. Again, crisis management is not a strategy.

    Have accountability! Is the NRA’s Executive VP position similar to a dictator in the Middle East or a mafia boss? Is the Executive VP only replaced when he dies?

    Educate the public with facts! Why have silencers not been deregulated? Very simple, the NRA does not spend time, money and energy in educating the public, but rather in scaring its own base with propaganda.

    STOP THE SPAM! It takes a significant amount of effort these days to stop the e-mail and postal mail spam by the NRA.

    • Patrick Henry, the 2nd says:

      Hear freaking hear!

    • Sebastian says:

      When it comes to legal challenges, the NRA needs to solicit donations to fund them and then actually spend the donations on these legal challenges. Most donations today fund the NRA and its cronies, not the legal challenges.

      The NRA Civil Rights Defense Fund is a separate legal fund that only goes to legal challenges. If you want to donate only to legal issues, that’s the place to donate it. That money is controlled by a Board committee and not staff.

      • Charlie Foxtrot says:

        The NRA mostly solicits donation through the NRA, NRA-ILA and NRA-PVF, and not the NRA Civil Rights Defense Fund. NRA Civil Rights Defense Fund donations are not for specific legal challenges either. It is a non-transparent slush fund as well.

        Also, giving NRA crony lawyers money for cases they are eventually going to settle anyway is not something that I am going to donate to (anymore). Yes, this actually happened in the city I live. Their excuse for the settlement was that they did not had enough money to pursue the case. Nobody ever asked to donate for that case.

        • Sebastian says:

          CRDF is a separate fund which issues its own annual report and files a 990. PVF is NRA’s PAC, and is legally required to be a separate fund. The foundation is likewise a 501(c)(3) and is separate from (c)(4) functions like ILA. Some of NRA’s functions, like training, can be funded by the (c)(3). So no, it’s not all one slush fund.

          • Charlie Foxtrot says:

            I NEVER said that it’s all one slush fund. It is just another slush fund out of the many the NRA has for different purposes. Can you list the cases that received funding from the CRDF? Did you bother to read the second part of my post?

            • Sebastian says:

              No. I don’t really have time for people who want to take their ball and go home at the slightest hint of not getting their way.

              • Charlie Foxtrot says:

                ??? I am an NRA Benefactor Life member who has been abandoned by the NRA.

                My city defied a state gun law and added local unlawful restrictions to the carrying of firearms. The NRA made a lot of noise and sued. A year later, the NRA settled and agreed that the city can continue with their unlawful practice. The NRA’s excuse was that they ran out of money for the lawsuit. A few months later, my state changed the law to make said restrictions lawful, with the help of the NRA. At that point, I stopped donating to all NRA funds, even to the NRA Civil Rights Defense Fund.

                NRA Civil Rights Defense Fund is the NRA’s slush fund for NRA-funded lawyers, primarily to file lawsuits that do not go anywhere. These lawsuits are filed purely for fundraising.

    • Sebastian says:

      Have a proactive strategy! Quote: “Here’s an unpleasant truth: bump stocks are not a tenable position. Machine guns or anything that shoots like a machine gun is not a tenable position.” That is exactly the problem. Since 1986, the NRA has done exactly nothing to change that. Waiting for the political opposition to attack you and then respond is not a strategy at all. It is just crisis management.

      NRA can’t change that. That’s up to each and every one of us to change that. If you want to make machine guns a tenable position again, you have to spread familiarity. The first place to start is with other gun owners.

      • HSR47 says:

        I certainly don’t have a truly representative sample, but the gun owners I’ve talked to on the issue seem to be VERY supportive of the repeal of 922(o).

        Frankly, that’s a common-sense step — a key way to argue for it would be to point out that removing that single section of code would STILL leave MGs as regulated under a registration and background check scheme that takes months (and sometimes even years) to navigate, and that has virtually everything that the other side says that they want. At the same time, raise the flag that the outright ban of those guns leaves open the possibility that the courts could rule the entire registration scheme unconstitional, thus making them as relatively unregulated as handguns (i.e. as easy as cash and carry in your home state with a carry permit).

    • Sebastian says:

      It’s not about “no compromise”, it’s about enough is enough! There isn’t any compromise as we just give in with nothing in return. The NRA’s lack of a strategy is the reason why we are always backed into a corner. Again, crisis management is not a strategy.

      We’re always backed into a corner because we’re a few million people and increasingly our numbers are baked into one party’s turnout model. If every gun owner in America cared as much about gun rights as you do, we’d never lose. But they don’t. So we find ourselves in a position where we have to make tactical retreats from time-to-time. And it seems a lot of people here like ignoring the fact that we have made significant advances prior to Bloomberg pouring unheard of amounts of cash into the gun control movement.

      • Charlie Foxtrot says:

        Part of my post was about stop connecting 2A rights with the culture war. 2A rights are currently only supported by a small group of people within one party. There are a lot of gun owners that repeatedly vote against 2A rights, because the vote itself is tied to other rights they value more. For example, 60-70% of the country supports Roe v. Wade, so connecting the politics of the opposition of Roe v. Wade with 2A rights guarantees losing 60-70% of voters.

        We continue to make significant advances at the state level in some states, despite Bloomberg and despite the NRA’s incompetence. Blaming Bloomberg on OUR failures is simply just ignoring the NRA’s incompetence. My post had a piece on accountability as well.

        • Sebastian says:

          You had a lot of points. I don’t disagree with all of them. I agree NRA’s lashing itself to other culture war issues is a mistake, even though I agree guns is a culture war issue, and one where I side with many conservatives. But their other conservative issues aren’t necessarily mine, and I hold my nose for a lot them for the sake of being in a coalition that can win elections. But that doesn’t mean NRA needs to have a position on other culture war issues.

  7. Will says:

    THE problem with the NRA is easily explained by this:
    “(Jerry) Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy”

    “In any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people: those who work to further the actual goals of the organization, and those who work for the organization itself. The Iron Law states that in all cases, the second type of person will always gain control of the organization, and will always write the rules under which the organization functions.”

    It has become an organization that works to feather their own pockets, and one of the ways they accomplish this is to not actually fight for the 2nd, since winning doesn’t make them any money. They have actually been involved in passing anti-gun laws. The people involved should have been shot or hung.

    I’m a life Member for decades. Which is near how long I’ve been ticked off about them.

  8. HSR47 says:

    “You have to know when a position is untenable, and the best option is to fall back and regroup. Here’s an unpleasant truth: bump stocks are not a tenable position. Machine guns or anything that shoots like a machine gun is not a tenable position. Saving semi-automatic rifles is a tenable position….”

    Here’s the thing though: If you look at the “bump stock bans” that are being passed in various states, they go FAR beyond just banning these specific devices.

    Among other issues, the language used in FL includes legally-registered MG conversion parts (e.g. transferable sears). The language used in MD, and in other states, arguably includes lubricants.

    Make no mistake, Bloomberg et. al. are using the “bumpstock” issue to pass bills that, in many cases, are little more than semi-auto firearm bans by another name.

    The bumpfire stock issue is one that the NRA MUST fight on — I don’t have any particular attachment to those devices, but the language being used in every one of the ban bills I’ve seen has been absolutely atrocious. If it is truly not practical to stop legislative bodies from banning these devices, then the NRA needs to at least try to get out ahead of the issue and work to prevent more states from passing the same kind of poorly worded/overly broad bans we’ve seen so far.

    So far the NRA has basically said “ATF ought to just ban them administratively” and left it at that. Frankly, I have a huge problem with that for two reasons: First, they’re advocating for exactly the kind of bureaucratic overreach that we’ve been fighting for 50+ years; Second, they’re giving tacit support for various legislative bodies to enact statutory bans on these devices, yet at the same time completely abdicating their duty to use their influence to steer those legislative bodies away from language that would damage things that the movement cannot afford to lose.

    • Sebastian says:

      That’s exactly the issue, and why NRA likely took the position it did. There’s two overriding concerns here, and these “bump stock bans” are jeopardizing both:

      • Saving what we have left of machine guns.
      • Protecting semi-auto firearms at all cost.
      • MarkPA says:

        I agree. It looks to me as though NRA took its position because it could cabin the “bump-stock ban” into a regulation drafted in a smoke-filled room with ATF personnel. They would keep OUT of the regulation everything else that Congress-critters insisted on adding to a bill.

        Am I happy with thee proposed bump-stock ban? No. But, gun owners living in states that are passing bills in state legislatures are even more unhappy.

        As a community, we have trouble figuring these things out. As a community, we will have more success when we learn how to fight the system and win. We will lose if we insist upon throwing ourselves on a funeral pyre.

  9. Chris says:

    I’ll confine my comments to the education & training side, and the competition side. Because those sides are a mess too.

    On the education & training side, there has been no significant curriculum revamp of any of the courses since the 80s and 90s. THere is little quality control for instructors or more importantly training counselors.

    Most importantly, there’s no coordination between education & competition. One great example of a missed opportunity was the NRA AR Challenge program.

    AR Challenge was rolled out as a competition division program to get people out doing some action rifle stuff with ARs — think about 3-gun but with only the rifle component and less formality, which makes it more accessible to the shooting public. They included a “clinic” component, with zero coordination with the education department.

    Today, the education department still just has the “Basic Rifle” course. That’s it. There’s no intermediate offering that focuses on the carbine skills needed to participate in AR challenge.

    The AR Challenge program has pretty much died on the vine — what a huge missed opportunity to do a coordinated rollout, where NRA teaches people to shoot ARs then provides a competitive outlet for people to get active in a club, which leads to deeper engagement. This would have also provided a way to mitigate the declining numbers of High Power and silhouette shooters, and provide a sport that uses high power rifles on ranges <100 yards in size. Today, AR Challenge is basically abandonware. They didn't even bother finalizing the qualification score rules.

    Another obvious example is the botched rollout of the blended learning online pistol course. What a disaster! It took NRA years to recognize the problem and then fire some of the staff responsible.

    Another example is the SUper Duper Advanced Carry Guard training. Rather than invest in their own instructor cadre, NRA decided to do a travelling road show of a few boutique chosen instructors. That approach pissed off a lot of the existing folks who are out there trying to find a way to teach Personal Protection or Defensive Pistol classes. They're literally competing with their own instructors.

    All of these examples point to a dysfunctional organization where people at HQ can't coordinate programs with other departments that probably work down the hall. There's no concerted initiative to, say, normalize AR-15 ownership. Such a program would have coordinated:
    1) Instructor development and certification for a new Intermediate Rifle (Carbine) class (maybe even just modify the current Personal Protection in the Home curriculum)
    2) AR Challenge competitive matches
    3) Industry sponsorship (in a big way) for major promotion — put flyers in the case for every factory AR sold in a year, etc.
    4) Coordinated ILA action to use all this as a way to go after the "sporting purposes" and similar language with regulatory agencies
    5) Coordinated NRA TV and other public affairs/messaging effort to show normalization of black rifles.

    If we had started that type of coordinated effort when AR Challenge was stillborn a few years ago we'd now have a nationwide cadre of instructors certified to teach defensive action rifle classes, regular action rifle matches that replace dying high power matches, industry buy-in, and a coordinated messaging campaign to the public and the bureaucracy.

    But all that would require people within HQ to have a common vision and coordinate their actions.

    • Sebastian says:

      I wish I could say I haven’t heard similar complaints from other people in the same area of focus. But I have. I think you’re absolutely right about this.

    • Bitter says:

      I don’t think this is completely unrelated that their overall culture of allowing their volunteers to do what volunteers do best and focusing on providing tools for those volunteers is going away in many departments. I don’t see it anymore in politics grassroots or club support. The latter certainly ties into education & training program opportunities.

    • HappyWarrior6 says:

      No. You want to see what a “coordinated program” is, play the games the way the left does (and succeeds doing it). I am sick of playing by our own rules. Here’s how the left would do it:

      1) Find every politician who disagrees with you and get to them, be at their offices, stand outside their house
      2) #RESIST unconstitutional laws, confiscations, etc. Don’t give one inch. Organize in the streets, possibly armed, quite possibly with banned items like high capacity mags.
      3) Don’t rely on tired institutions like the courts, congress, etc. to protect you. Rally your own cause behind you.

      #3 is really important, because continuing to rely on supposed allies (without speaking truth by some element of fear) will continue to fail us. I say we play by “their” radical rules.

      • Sebastian says:

        The problem with that is, most of us have jobs and families.

        • Charlie Foxtrot says:

          The problem is that 2A rallies don’t have Twinkies and beer. The worst part is that they are on the weekend, clashing with watching football. The gun community is rather lethargic.

          • HSR47 says:

            “The problem is that gun rights rallies are on the weekend, when I want to be sitting in front of my TV.”

            “The problem is that gun rights rallies are during the week, when I have to be at work.”

            I hate to be “that guy” but the simple fact is this: If you truly care about gun rights you need to be willing to miss the occasional football game, or to take the occasional personal day from work. I’ve been active in this fight since I turned 21, and in that time I’ve never found more than 3-4 opportunities per year to engage in these sorts of political activism.

            Surely you can afford to use ONE personal day, and miss ONE football game per year. Surely.

            If you want your grandchildren to be able to exercise the right to keep and bear arms to any practical degree, then it’s time for gun owners in general to stop being a bunch of summer soldiers and sunshine patriots.

            • Charlie Foxtrot says:

              You obviously do not understand sarcasm. My post, which you are replying to, makes exactly this argument.

              Gun owners will find all kinds of excuses not to be engaged in political activism. Sending money to the NRA is not really political activism. It is just an excuse to not do anything else. Posting “Molon Labe” on the Internet isn’t political activism either, just chest thumping.

              If the people in the Eastern Bloc would had been as lethargic as the US gun community is today, Communism would still exist there today.

              Part of the problem is also that 2A issues are often conflated with unrelated issues, excluding large parts of the population and, sometimes, making the US gun community look silly.

  10. beatbox says:

    Can we toss “slavish devotion to law enforcement” in there?

    • Sebastian says:

      Trading law enforcement for civil libertarians would be a net loss. I hate admitting that, because I’m a civil libertarian, but in terms of raw numbers and political power NRA is making the correct call.

      • beatbox says:

        The NRA is perfectly happy to call out manufacturers. They can do the same with LE

        • Sebastian says:

          The manufacturers aren’t all that powerful. We’ve killed manufacturer groups that have gone rogue successfully in the past. Losing rank and file cops would be much more costly.

  11. Sigivald says:

    Saving semi-automatic rifles is a tenable position, and they are under severe threat in a number of states, such as Washington, Oregon, and probably soon to be Nevada and Colorado

    Note that WA lost on the ballot measure (by which I mean it passed and all scary semis are now “assault weapons”).

    But in OR it couldn’t even get enough signatures to make it on the ballot, so it’s not nearly as bad here.

  12. Flight-ER-Doc says:

    The process for elections is quite … wrong. I was not happy to find a new President after the AM.

    And it’s probably time for Wayne to retire…

    • HSR47 says:

      Ok, say that Wayne retires and steps down as of the end of 2018.

      Then what?

      What’s to stop the corrupting cancer within the NRA from putting forward some new figurehead, and giving us another corrupt figurehead that will continue to steer the origination’s expenditures into the pockets of his cronies for the next 20+ years?

      • Sebastian says:

        I’m not sure Wayne retiring fixes the problem. I expect a power struggle when that happens, which is going to be a perilous time for NRA, and a boon to our opponents. Not saying Wayne shouldn’t retire, because he ain’t gonna live forever. But it’s not necessarily a panacea.

        • HSR47 says:

          That was basically my point: If Wayne steps down without there being strong consensus about his replacement, then there is going to be a power struggle, and the money-hungry cabal that’s currently at the reins will likely stay in charge.

  13. dwb says:

    Hard to say if any of the reformers really are. NRA is now too associated with the Republican party. The tide has turned towards more police accountability and scaling back qualified immunity. NRA needs to catch up. When a black CCW holder is shot the NRA is silent. As CCW expands, this will be more frequent. NRA should be standing up for everyones rights. Historically they did. They need to return to their roots and stop making Angry Dana videos that preach to a converted demographic.

    Bloomberg has a lot of money, but he is basically a racist elitist who does not think minorities are adults capable of owning weapons to defend themselves. You cant beat Bloomberg with money, but you can beat him with himself.

    • dwb says:

      And whomever is leaking to The Trace is a traitor and should be taken to the shed and shot. At the end of the day, reasonable people can disagree on tactics, like whether we should settle for 80% of a loaf, or retreat to shore up our flank. But these are debates about tactics not goals. We have more in common with each other than The Trace, whose editors are hoping to walk over our cold dead corpses. Disagree? Fine. Help the enemy? Bye.

      • HSR47 says:

        Is “leaking” information, most of which appears to already be public knowledge, really treacherous?

        Frankly, it seems like a pretty masterful move to me: Use the opposition’s anti-NRA zealotry as a tool to spread a pro-reform message (notably one aimed at making the NRA more effective at it’s core goals) by providing them enough pieces of long-public knowledge for them to write the story that you want them to tell.

        It’s not treachery, it’s master-class political activism.

    • Richard says:

      So what choice does the NRA have about being associated with the Republican party. There used to be some Democrats who supported RKBR and the NRA supported them but they are all gone now, victims of the lurch to the left of the Democrat party. Not just on guns but on everything.

      • Charlie Foxtrot says:

        Why does the NRA have to be associated with any party? Why can’t the NRA just support a 2A agenda?

        President Trump spoke twice at the NRA Annual Meeting. Is he being held accountable by the NRA for his actions (or the lack thereof)? Will the NRA say anything about the bump stock ban, or will we just hear the “better than Hillary” excuse?

      • dwb says:

        “So what choice does the NRA have about being associated with the Republican party. ”

        Reach out and canvass to voters on the other side of the aisle and get people to the polls. You know, like Moms Demand Attention is actually doing and btw kicking our ass doing it. Not: tens of millions on angry Dana videos that simply preach to the converted.

        • Richard says:

          MDA is just a shell organization for Bloomberg. There is no there there besides Bloomberg’s billions. Don’t want to be like them.

          • dwb says:

            Currently, my assessment is that they kicked our ass at the state level and in the US House congressional elections. See also: ballot initiatives in the west.

            If you dont want to like them, then what, you want to be a loser?

            Bloomberg did not get to be a multi-billionaire accidentally. He is relentless, ruthless, and when an idea stops working, he adapts. He famously quipped about 15 years ago the internet was a fad and no threat to his business model. Since then, hes done a 180, adapted, and copied what works (see: Bloomberg.com for a start). We need to be as relentless, ruthless, and flexible as he is if we want to win. That means, we copy what works even if it means adopting competitors ideas.

            • Richard says:

              Unless Bloomberg funded vote fraud, which is more Soros’s thing, I don’t think HE kicked our ass and MDA certainly didn’t. I can think of a lot of reasons why the election turned out badly. Some of them I even agree with but as evil as Bloomberg is, he is only as powerful as his billions. In WA, which I assume is the ballot issue you are talking about, he wasn’t the only leftist billionaire throwing 6 or 7 figures at gun control. There was also Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, the late Paul Allen and probably others I haven’t tracked. When we get a few billionaires of our own I guess we can copy his ideas but until then what we got is grass roots activists.

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