Skip to comments.The NRA’s Next Challenge: Its Success
Posted on 04/28/2014 9:16:06 PM PDT by neverdem
Religious freedom, life, education, reining in Big Government are these the proper focus of the NRA?
In Indianapolis this weekend, tens of thousands of members of the National Rifle Association came, saw, and well, in truth, they had already conquered. Last year, in Houston, Texas, the outfit was still running its victory lap after the defeat of the Schumer-Toomey-Manchin gun-control bill, celebrating not only the defeat of that proposal but also President Obamas failure to to reinstate a federal ban on cosmetically interesting weapons and to establish a national limit on the size of magazines. This time, there was no such drama to serve as the backdrop and it showed.
Since last years convention, the association has been on a winning streak: In Colorado, three anti-gun legislators have been recalled or scared into resigning; 65 of Michael Bloombergs 67 forays into electoral engineering have ended in failure, despite significant money being pushed into play; the White Houses first choice for surgeon general a man who criticized the NRA and described firearms as a health-care issue has been removed from consideration without so much as a filibuster; and, this year, federal courts in California and Illinois have taken significant steps toward the continued restoration of the Second Amendment. The bottom line is this: The NRA is winning, and, for now at least, the pushback has been light.
This years convention featured a notable shift of gear. Attendees were told, as if by rote, that this was the most dangerous time for gun rights in American history. But it didnt quite ring true. Indeed, speakers spent less time discussing firearms than at any gun meeting I can remember. Setting the tone in his opening speech, Wayne LaPierre listed for the crowd the current threats to our core values. Our right to keep and bear arms is at risk, he said. But also on his list:
Our right to speak. Our right to gather. Our right to privacy. The freedom to work, and practice our religion, and raise and protect our families the way we see fit.
This theme was picked up by almost everyone who followed. Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, warned that the Bill of Rights doesnt come à la carte, and then spent the lions share of time talking about the First Amendment. Senator Marco Rubio set the right to bear arms at the center of the American dream, positing that the Second Amendment is about so much more than the right to bear arms it is about preserving our God-given right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Bobby Jindal hit a similar note, saying all the right things about guns but hitting his stride when slamming the nanny state. (Michael Bloomberg and his ilk, Jindal explained, want to pick your soft drink, your snack food, your vices, your home-security system, your health insurance, your electricity source, and your childrens school.) Likewise Rick Santorum, who spoke only briefly about his wifes enthusiasm for firearms and then moved swiftly on to other things.
Given the considerable overlap between the libertarian tendency and a jealous defense of the right to keep and bear arms, it is unsurprising that the rhetorical offerings veer more generally to the right. Nevertheless, the willingness of conference headliners to address other issues while certainly virtuous in and of itself presents a small challenge. Contrary to the paranoid sneering of Americas ever-impotent gun controllers, the National Rifle Association is not imbued with magical powers, nor can it avail itself of an unlimited supply of money and favors. The National Rifle Association is successful because it is popular, because its members are highly engaged, because it is defending a right that is enumerated in the nations founding document and a tradition that is cherished by members of both major political parties, because its opponents routinely embarrass themselves with their hysteria and with their lack of rudimentary knowledge about the topic at hand, and, most of all, because it is a single-issue organization that maintains its focus. But this years conference was not particularly focused; indeed, at times it was almost indistinguishable from the Republican National Convention. (One guest joked to me that this years event was CPAC with a gun show.) This raises an important question: Does the NRA wish to be the nations gun-rights sentinel, or does it wish to be a gun-focused player within the wider liberty movement?
Philosophically at least, there are few more crucial questions for a free country than whether its people may be armed. The intricacies of the law to one side, it makes little constitutional sense to have the paid employees of a sovereign people agitating to disarm their employers. The customary question of why do you need that? is best turned on its head by asking, Why dont you want me to have it? Which is to say that when Wayne LaPierre and his ilk argue that the Second Amendment is a proxy for something bigger, they are correct. The basic liberties guaranteed in the Bill of Rights fit together nicely, each complementing the other. Freedom of speech, religion, and assembly; due process; privacy; the right to bear arms all of these things are ultimately intended to ensure the same thing: that the state should not be serving as the arbiter and granter of the peoples liberties, and it certainly shouldnt be picking and choosing which amendments to get behind and which to ignore.
The NRA, on the other hand? Well, that almost definitely should.
Watching the British protests against the second Gulf War in 2003, I was struck by the realization that, had I wished to, I would have been unable to join in with the dissenters. Take a look back at the photographs and you will notice that the rallies quickly escaped the confines of the issue du jour and mutated into something more generic. Prominently displayed were banners and signs that, among other things, advocated for unilateral nuclear disarmament, slammed Israel in brutal terms, warned hysterically about the perils of climate change, encouraged total animal liberation, wildly accused oil companies of all sorts of unspeakable evils, and depicted the elected leaders of the free world as little more than tin-pot dictators the upshot of which was that many onlookers who had genuine sympathy with the opposition to the war in Iraq felt unable to join in. A moderately conservative friend of mine who predicted that the war would be a disaster explained that he was staying away from the melee because, while he hoped that Britain would abstain from taking part in military action, he did not wish to add his name to a host of causes that were not his own, or contribute his feet to the advancement of a rabble-rousing Leftism with which he had no broad sympathy whatsoever.
The NRA is winning and thank goodness that it is. So effective has it been that it must be tempting for its acolytes to branch out, fighting the good fight on more front than one. It should resist the lure, and even at this moment of unprecedented success remember what it was that made it so effective in the first place: discipline.
Charles C. W. Cooke is a staff writer at National Review.
The NRA should concentrate there and on efforts where those rats you have supported then voted for Sotomayor and Kagan were just being fair weather friends when it counted. Don't forget RINO's too!
I challenge the NRA to stop supporting RINOs and rats, which it frequently does.
Yes, CCW is spreading, and every one of those gunowners is a registered owner, but this is no time to sit on our laurels.
If the NRA was run like DEMOCRAT special interest groups they would spend a bit of time thinking about the LONG-TERM implications of unrelated policies.
For example, once Amnesty is passed, the Dems will OWN Washington for generations, at least, and gun control will again be FRONT AND CENTER once enough blood is spilled by some nutcase. And this time, there WILL NOT be enough Republicans to stop the push.
But the NRA doesn’t care about Amnesty, because it does not have an immediate direct impact on gun owners - so the Dems will ultimately win on the issue, simply because conservative groups aren’t refuse to play by their rules.
The NRA has realized that if it wants to defend firearm rights, it must battle the ever-increasing, abusive, police state we are becoming.
Firearms will not matter if the nation is under the control of an all-powerful, make-up-the-rules central government.
The NRA sees the dangers coming. The IRS audits of powerful members, the surveillance on innocent citizens, and the ever-increasing militarization of federal agencies.
Watch Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Once they have identified you as a threat, through surveillance, they can take you out by remote control whenever they wish.
We will not see Helicarriers in the skies, but this is very real and very plausible today.
Thank God for the NRA... thank God they’re reaching out to protect all our ‘very connected’ rights.
Freedom of speech, religion, and assembly; due process; privacy; the right to bear arms all of these things are ultimately intended to ensure the same thing: that the state should not be serving as the arbiter and granter of the peoples liberties, and it certainly shouldnt be picking and choosing which amendments to get behind and which to ignore.Then you obviously disagree with the POV of the author, and believe that the NRA should evaluate candidates on more than the single issue of the 2nd Amendment.
The NRA, on the other hand? Well, that almost definitely should.
Democrat majorities are the greatest threat the 2nd amendment faces, that should preclude EVER endorsing a democrat unless there is rare instance of a pro-2A rat running against an anti-2A Republican. But they’ve backed democrats against pro-2A Republicans, in my book that’s not acceptable.
Case in point, Joe Manchin, who of course betrayed them because rats can’t be trusted, because their party is evil.
But theyve backed democrats against pro-2A Republicans, in my book thats not acceptable. Case in point, Joe Manchin, who of course betrayed them because rats cant be trusted
Hard to argue with that . . .