On a thread at G&A's Second Amendment Issues Forum someone asked why some people such as myself are always bad mouthing the NRA.
This will be an attempt to define the issues we have with them.
To start off the work the NRA has done in promoting the shooting sports is admirable. As a sporting organization they're very decent. Where the problems come into play is in their political stances, or more accurately in the actions they take that conflicts with their reputation.
For starters, they supported at the time or currently support every federal gun control law that was ever passed.
The NFA of 34, the GCA of '68, The FOPA of 86 (which was a relatively decent law until the Hughes Amendment was added), The Assault Weapons Ban, & The Brady Bill.
They will contend or most people will assume that they simply could not fight these bills, but the truth is they put up a very small struggle if any & ended up conceding to these bills if not openly supporting them.
Anecdotal evidence of this can be found simply by looking at their stance on current gun laws: enforce them. They want strict enforcement of existing gun control laws. Sounds odd if they oppose them doesn't it?
But more in depth, the GCA of 68 (which was actually two seperately passed laws condensed into one) was supported by the NRA & the firearms manufacturers. A key provision of the bill stopped mail order sales of surplus rifles, which was a beneficial move for the firearms industry.
I refer you to this portion of David T Hardy's rather extensive treatment of the FOPA
"...the early forms of the Gun Control Act were drafted with the assistance and encouragement of firearms manufacturers..."
The NRA oppossed this early form of the GCA as evidenced by a May 1958 NRA Bulletin.
But between 1958 & 1962 they changed their tune.
"66] 109 Cong. Rec. 13,945 (1963). Dodd said the bill "has been thoroughly discussed with the gun industry and the gun clubs, [and] they have approved and endorsed the provisions of our proposal." Id. at 13,946-47. He added that NRA had "worked closely with the Committee throughout its investigation and [had] participated willingly in the development of the bill." Id. at 13,947."
& in 68 we have the NRA fully supporting the GCA
"1968 General Franklin Orth, Executive Vice President of NRA, testifies before Congress in favor of the Gun Control Act (GCA'68) that "[NRA does] not think that any sane American, who calls himself an American, can object to placing into this bill the instrument which killed the president of the United States," /2/ (a ban on the mail-order sale of firearms). His statement of NRA support generates heated opposition from the (presumably insane) portion of the NRA membership, creating split between "sportsmen" and "hardliners."
BTW, the preceeding was taken from an anti-gun site. Starnge how anti-gunners realize the NRA supports gun control but NRA members & apologists don't.
For the NRA's support of the Brady bill, i refer you to this
"Starting in 1989, the NRA, under Warren Cassidy, has chosen to fight gun control with . . . national computerized gun control. Jim Baker of the NRA was quoted by USA Today on October 26, 1993 (P. 7A) as saying: ' We already support 65% of the Brady bill, because it moves to an instant check, which is what we want."
Here's an excerpt regarding the gun control bills on the table in 1994
"To the astonishment of most experts, Senator Dole and his
fellow Republicans agreed to hurry up procedures for
considering all the gun control bills. Opportunities to
filibuster the legislation were mostly avoided. A number of
killer amendments could have been added to make the filibuster
work. For example, anti-gunners could have been forced to
vote first on imposing the death penalty in the District of
Columbia before they could vote for the Brady bill. It is
entirely possible that the Senate would still be stalemated
at that point, given such a choice.
This strategy had worked well in past years so GOA asked a
few Senate offices to have their Senators filibuster the bill.
But GOA was told by one Senate staffer, who wishes to
remain anonymous, that "The NRA asked us not to filibuster."
We were told that Senator Dole's vote count was the basis
for this decision."
Read the entire thing, as it gives some insights into other issues I & others have with the NRA.
One of those issues is the NRA's support for questionable candidates.
Russ Howard makes the case that, among other things the NRA's rating system isn't an accurate measure of pro-gun candidates.
Then we have the opposition to pro-second amendment lawsuits. Most recent of which is the NRA's opposition to the CATO lawyers challenge of the D.C. gun ban through judicial as well as legislative means & the NRA's opposition to the Silveira v. Lockyer case which is being considered for hearing by the Supreme Court. Also look here & here for responses to Dave Kopel's opposition to the Silveira case. Look here for info on the NRA attorney arguing for gun registration & restricted access in their D.C. gun ban challenge.
The NRA consistently backs inferior pro-gun bills, such as the recent CCW bill passed into law in Colorado.
And of course there's the anecdotal stuff, such as the NRA having an NRA member arrested for passing out pro-gun literature at an NRA event.
Add to that the NRA's current support for a strengthening of a gun control law.
So what do we have?
1. The NRA supports gun control laws.
2. The NRA supports questionable candidates &/or does not support solidly pro-gun candidates.
3. The NRA opposes pro-second amendment lawsuits, favoring challenges based on peripheral issues such as regulatory application of laws.
4. The NRA does not support pro-gun CCW laws, instead supporting inferior bills.
5. The NRA is currently supporting rigid enforcement of existing gun control laws as well as a strengthening of said laws.
Like I said, as a shooting sports organization I have no problems with them. But politically they're not helping us at all & in fact I believe they're hurting us.
I don't support the NRA because of their political stance. The NRA-ILA is a seperate wing of the NRA & it has been argued that joining the NRA & not giving money to the NRA-ILA is acceptable. I disagree. The NRA-ILA gets it's clout from having a large NRA membership. The NRA-ILA's ability to lobby is directly affected by the overall NRA membership. So under the current circumstances helping one is helping the other & that is unacceptable to me.
As an aside I do find the NRA's membership numbers to be artifically high. I'm sure they have the 4+million members they boast, but I know that severl gun clubs in my area require NRA membership in order to join. Also many shooting competitions require NRA membership for particiaption. If the NRA removed these requirements I think their membership would shrink considerably, since many members of gun clubs & many shooting competitors that I know disagree strongly with the NRA & are only members out of necessity.
So while the NRA has very good PR with most pro-gun people, the reality is that they're practicing some very shakey, if not contradictary policies.