Longtime readers (all both us us) may find the title of this post somewhat surprising. No need to check the date; it's not the first day of the 4th month. I still have many problems with the NRA. Their goals don't seem to line up with mine (they act like possessing weapons is a privilege rather than a Right) and their strategy is way too conciliatory. They seem to be all Chamberlain and no Churchill. When they should be on offense they play defense and when they should play defense they preemptively surrender. The power structure within the administration is way too top down for my tastes and I think current management should've stepped down a while back. (Although I do admit they've done a decent job regarding training and organizing shooting competitions.) Because of those consideration I haven't been an NRA member since I was a teenager (which was about the same time that mastodons roamed the earth). When the NRA stops supporting gunowner control laws and starts promoting the Right to arms instead of trying to slowly turn it into a privilege I'd be happy to join them. Sadly that day isn't today.
However, the NRA has come under attack in recent weeks. Correction - not attack, but onslaught. Companies are disassociating themselves with the NRA, there's a hue and cry in the mainstream media attempting to pressure politicians to cut ties with the NRA, and celebrities both new and long standing have been doing their best to vilify the NRA. (Here's a good overview on the situation.)
Only when they say NRA they don't mean NRA - they mean me. They mean gun owners in general. They mean folks who have concluded the 2nd article in the bill of Rights means government shouldn't interfere with people possessing weapons. Just as the wrong people was often a euphemism for black folk, the NRA in this context doesn't just mean NRA members (as is "the gun lobby" and a few similar terms); it means anyone who doesn't support some degree of gunowner control laws.
This isn't an ad-hoc scenario. The preparation for this move was done ahead of time and it was sprung when an opportune event occurred. The school shooting in Parkland Florida just happened to be that event. The goal is quite simple; to marginalize or silence any who will not give support or acquiescence to their gunowner control plans. That's what they mean when they say NRA; they're not talking about the NRA as is actually exists - the NRA I outlined in the opening paragraph - but the NRA as the mainstream media has made it out to be (i.e. 2nd amendment absolutists who never give an inch and control the GOP). That equates to me, and folks like me who do value the Right to arms.
They want to make it socially unacceptable to be a gun owner, or voice support for the Right to arms. I've been in circles where that was the case - where the group of folks I was around couldn't fathom why anyone would own a gun other than for hunting (and even then it wasn't universally accepted that hunting was a good enough reason). But these were small circles of mainly (at the time) early to mid 20-ish folks from the progressive culture. Artists, teachers, seemingly permanent college students, etc. My views were almost unfathomable to most of them as their starting premise was opposite of mine; they thought only the collective should have power over life and death. (I attribute their worldview to having trouble with math.)
When I say "they" I'm not shaking my fist at some cloud that rained down too heavy. Bloomberg, Soros, Clinton, et al are ultimately behind this (although Soros' spokespeople have denied it). But on board with them are various organizations of a progressive bent; some teachers unions, Planned Parenthood, the mainstream media as well as various anti-gunowner groups have a hand in this latest wave of anti-gunowner effort.
They've persuaded some businesses to get on board with the anti-NRA campaign. several companies have rescinded deals reserved for NRA members and a few stores have stopped selling "assault weapons" or raised the purchase age for long guns.
I'm not an NRA member, but I won't spend money at places that have tried to distance themselves from the NRA under these circumstances (If a company disassociated itself with the NRA because the NRA wasn't pro-gunowner enough then I'd still drop coins into their till, but that's not what's going on here). As for the places that have raised the age to buy long guns, I won't spend nearly as much money there as I'm accustomed (which mainly applies to Wal-Mart). I just drove a few miles out of my way last week to pick up some things from Best Buy that I would've normally gotten from Wal-Mart. (This isn't a new experience; there are several companies I won't trade with because of their anti-gunowner policies. For example Pizza Hut, Papa Johns and Domino's all have anti-self defense and anti-gunowner policies for employees, so I buy Digiorno or Red Baron instead.) If Wal-Mart persists in alienating gun owners, then it'll lose the entirety of my business.
These efforts have unintended consequences; NRA memberships are selling like hot cakes, as are National Association of Gun Rights and Gun Owners of America memberships. I haven't seen the numbers for local groups, like Rocky Mountain Gun Owners or Grass Roots North Carolina, but I imagine they're seeing an increase as well. I've even seen that some folks who don't own firearms are joining the NRA because of the anti-gunowner blitz, and a few have even become gun owners.
Businesses that have basked in tweets supporting their moves to cut ties with the NRA will soon see how this affects their bottom line; a whole lot of folks (like myself) are taking their money elsewhere when they see a company has anti-NRA leanings. Even non-NRA members are changing their spending habits because they don't need an overly wordy essay from some guy on the net using an old Roman pseudonym to know that anti-NRA is really anti-gunowner in this context. The first two quarterly reports of 2018 for these companies will be interesting.
Hollywood has for ages forgone any masquerade and openly used its medium to propagandize progressive themes. This have resulted in diminished box office returns overall and I'll boldly predict this trend will continue. Some are jumping on the anti-NRA bandwagon (along with musicians - country musicians at that!) and I just don't see their bottom line improving because of it (unless Bloomie the Hut is giving them compensation for being such good little propagandists). Despite their progressive bent I'll still watch movies and listen to music I find interesting, but somehow a cast full of anti-NRA (anti-gunowner) actors or a CD brimmign with anti-NRA (anti-gunowner) musicians just doesn't seem all that interesting anymore.
As it stands now, the republican party is seen as sympathetic if not aligned with the NRA. There are a lot of republicans that support a lot of gunowner control, certainly more than I do and in some cases even more than the NRA does. But like the NRA is portrayed as some absolutist group, the republicans are viewed as pro-gunowner. So in a broader context, while the groups involved would enjoy pressuring congress to pass more gunowner control laws and convince society to find gunowners unacceptable in social and business circles, it's not difficult to see that this anti-NRA (anti-gunowner) campaign is an effort to get democrats elected in the midterms and possibly beyond. No firearms law will stop or even slow down the occurrence of tragedies like mass shootings, so if they blame the NRA and republicans for being culpable in each crime because of their image of being pro-gunowner, then even if the republicans cave and pass some gunowner control laws the progressives will still scream their heads off that the republicans are controlled by NRA and that's why a law wasn't passed to prevent whatever tragedy they're using at the moment.
It's a multi goal approach to be sure, but methinks the elections this November are what they're eyeing most lasciviously in all of this.
I do think they overplayed their hand; attacking the NRA is being taken personal by 10's of millions of Americans (as it should be). I suppose the progressives, who live in a world where a top-down structure is ideal societally, viewed the NRA as a top-down structure and thought it could drive a wedge between management and its members. I do think the structure of the NRA administration has too much of a top down feel, but it responds, however begrudgingly, to members. usually when the NRA is doing something very pro-gunowner or not compromising it's because the membership has pressured the management to act like it has some sense for a change. Misunderstanding the source of power for the NRA is their biggest mistake aside from not realizing that the membership as well as millions of non-members would take an attack on the NRA as an attack on themselves.
Politically the NRA isn't a powerhouse because it donates lavishly; many progressive groups spend more in a single year than the NRA does in decades. Even a base of 5 million members voting a certain way is insufficient to explain why politicians (at least republicans) try to stay on the NRA's good side. It's because 10's of million of folks vote in the general direction the NRA points. The non-members are often just as if not more so pro-gunowner than NRA members, and vote accordingly. Take away the NRA's campaign and lobbying funds and you won't see much change in the political landscape. To paraphrase some estute political analyst (at least in that one instance) It's the voters, stupid.
Like presumably millions if not tens of millions of folks, when I saw that companies were aligning with anti-NRA movements, I didn't need an email from Lapierre telling me what the ideal course of action was. I didn't think about the NRA at all; I just though "Cool - there's another place I won't spend money at! Frugality Level Master Unlocked!". Because even though I have serious disagreements with the NRA's management and direction I know an attack on me when I see it.
After all, to the progressives, I am the NRA.