Human Factors in NRA Troubles

Over at NRA in Danger, here and here. Go read. We always knew things were bad, but holy shit were they bad.

The board has a problem that is similar to LaPierre’s. It, too, is overwhelmed. It is a mass of 76 directors, almost none of which (other than a few retired military) have any experience in administering anything, let alone a $350 million corporation. Most are elected based on their skill at activism or in shooting. For most, it is the highest achievement of their life, their greatest boast, and so it is something to be protected at all cost. In its time, Ackerman McQueen pushed the idea that board membership was something like an award, rather than a responsibility. You receive the award, and show up for meetings where the leadership pats itself on the back and you give applause when the speaker pauses.

Yep. A lot of readers used to ask why I didn’t run for the board. What was the point? Those people individually had no power, and their collective power was only theoretical. No thank you. I have a reasonably good paying career and at the time felt I had more sway as a blogger than I would as an NRA board member.

There was also the sense that the culture of the Board would not agree with my nature. I am not impressed by celebrity or interested in hobnobbing with insiders. I did a lot of that as a blogger, but that’s how you understand an organization. I am not interested in it for its own sake. I don’t need the participation trophy, and I was not going to kiss anyone’s ring to get nominated. Though running by petition isn’t a difficult hill to climb, even now.

One thing I do feel bad about is that I got the Indianapolis meeting very wrong, because I didn’t really know what was going on, since by then I had already largely semi-retired from blogging. We haven’t been to an NRA Annual Meeting for some time, and weren’t talking to people who would know.

3 thoughts on “Human Factors in NRA Troubles”

  1. The thing I have found mostly missing at “NRA in Danger” is, any discussion of whose political mission was NRA fulfilling, and what was that mission?

    It sounds like NRA “policy” was defined by a very few people. Did it evolve that only one or two individuals were calling the shots, while we were left to count on the ideological altruism of state-level lobbyists acting pretty much independently?

    E.g., who was responsible for the NRA’s de facto departure from “single issue” while they drifted more and more into social conservatism, as eventually evidenced by NRATV content?

    My last cynical thought for the day (or for this post, anyway) is, is “NRA in Danger” setting us up to place the blame on only a handful of individuals, when there actually is a lot more blame to go around?

  2. Boards that are very large (usually a non-profit, NRA, Red Cross, etc) are specifically designed to have no power.

    The NRA members have no power either: Why bother voting for board members or President when they can be replaced by Wayne’s order – and the replacement is appointed not elected.

  3. I have felt for a very long time that the NRA has been coasting along half-asleep for years and only “succeeding” because it was in a low threat environment.

    * There have been no serious attempts to enact gun restrictions in nearly 30 years, at least not in any areas that are politically contestable. 1994 put the fear of god into the gun control people and they’ve largely avoided big moves as a result.
    * The culture these past 20 years has been far more pro gun (and heading in a more pro gun direction) than it was 30 or 60 years ago. The NRA had no hand in any of this, I think a lot of it just naturally sprang out of internet activity and general cultural shifts.
    * Since state level activists are often NRA members and NRA can file amicus briefs in SCOTUS cases, it often looks like they are being active even when they are completely inert.
    * everyone and their mother on the gun control side complains about the power and influence of the NRA, reinforcing the false perception that the NRA is not inert

    So you’ve got this situation where NRA seems powerful and influential but has to expend zero energy to maintain this reputation. Which means an awful lot of leeches can latch on before the animal dies. I think the NY AG represents a buzzard pecking at this dying animal and it’s good to the extent that it might wake the animal up. Because I think until recently a lot of people thought the NRA was actively helping rather than just stealing the money they send them.

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