Whether motivated by safety concerns or responding to opposition voiced by its friends in Washington, The National Rifle Association (NRA) has opted out of the Second Amendment March gathering in Washington, D.C. today. The organization is also adopting a policy of non-engagement in the firearms freedom act sweeping the state’s rights community. The NRA’s non-strategy hasn’t escaped the Salt Lake Tribune’s attention: “The nation’s most influential gun-rights group is conspicuously absent — and nearly silent — in a growing battle between states and the federal government over gun control. The National Rifle Association has been taking a low profile when it comes to the firearms freedom acts that have been passed by seven state legislatures and spawned a growing legal fight between those states, some gun advocates and the U.S. Justice Department . . . Gun enthusiasts who launched the fight said they would like the NRA to be more assertive.”

“Historically, the NRA has been very uncomfortable being too close to the edge of the envelope philosophically. They did support the bill in Montana at first, but they did not support it in others states,” said Gary Marbut, president of the Montana Shooting Sports Association that is leading the legal battle with the federal government. “I expect they will eventually warm up to the idea and become supporters.”

David Codrea, an NRA member and active gun rights columnist, said the NRA likely believes the legal fight is a losing one, and understands the high-profile group doesn’t want to give its anti-gun opponents ammunition by taking on a high-profile loss.

“That said, I would like to see stronger statements of support,” Codrea said. “I understand the perceived negatives, but sometimes it is important to fight on principles.”

A quotee in today’s Wall Street Journal is even more . . . pointed.

The NRA is “no longer the 800-pound gorilla” in the pro-gun movement, said Gary Marbut, a life member of the NRA and president of teh Montana Shooting Sports Association, an NRA affiliate. “The NRA is running the risk of becoming insignificant, of fading into the background.”

3 Responses to NRA Gambles on Low Profile

  1. The NRA will have power as long as it’s perceived as a mainstream organization (by the people in Flyover Country, not the media/entertainment industries who already view it as an ‘extremist’ organization.)

    That’s why the NRA won’t get too close to anti-government groups or second amendment extremists, nor should it. If the NRA were to cozy up to the radicals, they would lose their base of support among mainstream gun owners and then their vaunted political power would disappear.

    I know a lot of gun owners who praise organizations like JPFO and GOA, but the truth is that those organizations have about zero political power. There’s no congressman or senator who is afraid of GOA or JPFO. OTOH, there are lots of politicians who walk on eggshells around the NRA because they know that pissing off the NRA can result in a huge backlash against them.

  2. I’m frankly not too worried about the NRA’s non-involvement in the Montana gun law case, because the “gun” part of the law is a red herring. This is, pure and simple, a States’ Rights issue. It is a challenge to the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Commerce Clause.

    On other issues – in particular the Tea Parties, I’m extremely disappointed in the NRA’s lack of action. The Tea Parties are NOT made up of a bunch of radicals, extremists, bigots, or subversives. I’ve attended Tea Party rallies. They/we are the nicest, bunch of well-mannered of activists you could ever hope to meet. For the NRA to not support ALL the Constitution is, in my opinion, pretty craven.

    I wonder if they plan to sell “I am their leader…which way did they go” caps in the NRA store?

  3. I disagree, Brad. The NRA should not be affiliated with the Tea Party, nor the Democrats, nor the Republicans. First of all, were the NRA to form some kind of alliance with the Tea Partiers, it would simply give more fuel to the gun banners in marginalizing them, and would de-legitimize the NRA as a group. Second, since the Tea Parties are about much, much more than just guns, it would dilute their focus.

    The NRA should be about firearms, not states rights, not taxes, not foreign policy, except where those issues related directly to firearms.

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