U.S.A. – -(Ammoland.com)- A recent series of AmmoLand articles reveals deep divisions between Second Amendment advocates and their perceptions of the National Rifle Association. Comments under the articles show emotional divisions among readers, with the vitriol on display one would generally expect to be reserved for gun-grabbers.
I’ve seen some readers complain, they’re tired of reading about this. Fine by me – there’s a whole Internet out there to occupy yourself with if you’d care to leave. If not, be advised – these are my opinions and if I wanted to be popular I'd be writing about the Kardashians.
I’ve seen some who read an article on this site that defends the NRA and accuse AmmoLand of being their shills. I’ve seen others get angry at criticisms of the Association and accuse AmmoLand of being “NRA bashers.” I’ve seen comment posters dismissed as “Russian bots” and worse.
Anonymity sure emboldens, doesn't it? Most of us are a lot more circumspect in the real world.
Longtime readers of my stuff know I’m in the camp that says criticizing the NRA's leadership statements and decisions is no more an indictment of the association than criticizing a politician as un-American. As the slogan says, “I’m the NRA.” And I reserve the right to criticize when I feel it warranted not only because it’s a duty people of conscience have, but also because I’ve done my part to support the association over the years.
I found over those years that I could be more motivated and thus effective for my own ends working independently of the NRA and without the restrictions that come from representing anyone other than me. Plus, as I became more involved and aware, I found increasingly that I had disagreements with what I was seeing coming out of Fairfax, Virginia.
The small part of my agenda that involves the NRA is motivated by a desire to see the organization reformed. It's certainly no secret that many hard core gun activists are fed up with the Association – or more precisely, its management. Unlike some of them, I don't advocate leaving it – I advocate holding its officers accountable to a constructionist interpretation of the Second Amendment and the Association Bylaws.
It’s no different in principle than holding a politician accountable for fidelity to our Constitution. And unfortunately – or I should say deliberately – those bylaws have not been posted online for all to see, but instead copies must be requested by members.
For those who don’t have a copy, the bylaws define the purposes and objectives of the National Rifle Association of America as:
“To protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, especially with reference to the inalienable right of the individual American citizen guaranteed by such constitution to acquire, possess, collect, exhibit, transport, carry, transfer ownership of, and enjoy the right to use firearms in order that the people may always be in a position to exercise their legitimate individual rights of self-preservation in defense of family, person and property as well as to serve effectively in the appropriate militia for the common defense of the republic and the individual liberty of its citizens.”
That is my benchmark for the NRA. That is what I expect its management to promote. That is what I expect its staff to promote. To people who want to slam anyone for taking on NRA political statements or political grades or public policy statements that contradict that, it’s on them to show where the criticism is untrue.
Support for any “gun control” law violates not only the bylaws, but also contradicts the truism that such laws don’t work. The signal it sends is that such laws will work if only they’re NRA-approved.
We’re told certain laws or rules will be supported because it’s pragmatic to do so, and if we don’t offer an alternative something worse will be forced on us. To me, that shows that the political ratings are flawed, since no politician worthy of an “A” and endorsement under the assurances that he is “a staunch defender of the Second Amendment” would support an infringement, but would instead go to the mat fighting it. Far too often we see it easier for a John Cornyn to advance a mental health blanket dragnet bill, or a Marco Rubio to push so-called “red flag” restraints that, by their very design cannot afford real “due process,” regardless of assurances insisting otherwise.
I’d expect an “A”-rater to be able to argue a compelling case to his constituents to educate them on the realities of citizen disarmament and to be able to demonstrate how they’re getting bad information and from whom. They present themselves as our leaders, so how about some leadership?
I’d also expect an “A”-rater to not endorse and support “F”-raters, as every supposedly “pro-gun Democrat” who turned around and supported Obama or Hillary for president did. I’d expect an “A”-rater to not undermine his “pro-gun” votes by supporting “amnesty/pathway to citizenship” policies that will result in overwhelming anti-gun majorities, just like we’ve seen engineered in “sanctuary state” California.
But talking about all this plays into the hands of those who would “divide and conquer,” some will insist.
So what are we supposed to do? Pretend deep disagreements don't exist?
What will ignoring grievances accomplish, and how will it keep more of them from occurring? Some of us believe we are in an existential fight for the future of the Republic, and one that can devolve into much more serious conflicts than calling each other names. And speaking for myself, if you “compromise” for or enable any form of citizen disarmament, sorry, we’re not “on the same side.”
Besides, who would exploit the rift? The gun-grabbers? Our enemies? They'll attack us regardless. The hell with them.
Here’s the other thing, though, for everybody placing all the blame on Wayne LaPierre & Co. (and he certainly has earned his portion of criticism): Out of the supposedly five million members, less than half of those meet the qualifications needed to vote for the Board of Directors. Of those who do qualify, Election Committee reports consistently confirm only around seven percent even bother to vote.
We can point fingers at the management-selected Nominating Committee if we like, but the bottom line is it’s up to each of us to MAKE the time to find out who best represents our interests. Believing what I call “Profiles in Apathy” to be the way things will continue to be, I don’t have high hopes to see the mandate for real change some are calling for actualized.
For those saying “GOA,” simple math tells us they won’t be in a position to exert as much influence without comparable membership numbers. That they have not attained those after all these years tells us something about them but much more about gun owners.
What all this means is, without something unforeseen and profound happening to unify gun owners, I’m not expecting to see the divide lessen. I wish I could offer a happy solution. But if it means giving up concessions to those that want it all, maybe we’re beyond debating in website comments and moving into something a lot more serious and for which far too few of us have prepared…
About David Codrea:
David Codrea is the winner of multiple journalist awards for investigating / defending the RKBA and a long-time gun owner rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament.