In Gun Fight; the Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America, Adam Winkler tries to play it both ways. He acknowledges the inescapable fact of American gun ownership while arguing for “common sense” gun control (or some such thing). Needless to say, anyone on either side of his position is, by definition, an extremist. A conflagration of fanatics that includes—you guessed it—the NRA. Winkler focuses in on the NRA’s attempt to torpedo the Heller lawsuit in favor of their own Second Amendment D.C. court case. Here’s the inside dope, ascribed to the non-NRA brief who represented Heller in front of America’s highest court . . .
[Alan] Gura suspected the NRA was fearful its fund-raising machine might grind to a halt if the Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment guaranteed an individual’s right to own guns.
Really? Really? It’s hard to imagine that the NRA would be cynical enough to put its financial health ahead of Americans’ gun rights. But it’s not inconceivable. The gun rights org plays realpolitik like Amarillo Slim Preston played poker.
In its lobbying efforts, the NRA’s ready, willing and able to horse trade what’s right for what’s possible or, if you prefer, what’s best in the long-term view. As Winkler and Gura wonder, best for whom?
The image above illustrates the conundrum: gun rights equals uh-oh equals the NRA will save you equals buying something from the NRA equals supporting right-wing politics against left-wing loonies (i.e. Occupy Wall Street).
There’s also something in there about white people. Mind you, I’m not accusing the NRA of racism. But you only have to scan their website to know the gun rights group has done little to nothing to recruit black and hispanic gun owners.
Incorporating members from these two groups would do much to defuse hard-core gun control advocates, who draw their support exclusively from the left of the political spectrum. It would also give the NRA more, dare I say it, soul.
And boy do they need it. I recently attended a Friends of the NRA dinner. There wasn’t a single minority in the building. As we say in these parts, it was OFWGs (Old Fat White Guys) uber alles. With all the excitement that entails.
I make that two “challenges” for the NRA’s future: recruiting minorities and replacing white guys heading for the happy hunting grounds in the sky. Would a Call of Duty player have had a good time at the FOTNRA gig? Not unless they brought their XBox.
The NRA would do well to consider the possibility that their endless “the gun grabbers are coming!” alarms turn-off (or fail to excite) their caucasian core. White Americans growing up without draconian gun control—thanks in large part to the NRA—must wonder WTF the NRA’s on about.
To bring in minorities and young folk, the NRA needs to turn the volume knob down from 18 to 5, create some kind of Johnny Appleseed project for concealed carry and take it to the streets. Moderation might not swell the corporate coffers, but I reckon the gun rights groups’ long-term survival depends on it.
Winkler’s work chronicles the NRA’s evolution from a gun control-sympathetic marksmanship training org to anti-gun control Chicken Littles (with extremely sharp claws). Perhaps the NRA will pull a Madonna and reinvent itself. It could be a gun rights group that represents all Americans in a calm, forceful and, most importantly for its future, funky way.
Meanwhile, I passed on bidding for the NRA toaster. And it has nothing to do with the fact that I prefer brown bread.