After the Las Vegas spree killing the NRA was once again front and center and . . . silent. After almost a week went by, the NRA passed on defending the legality of the bump fire stock used by the Mandalay Bay killer. Instead, they blamed the ATF for the stock’s unregulated existence. What’s more they called on the ATF to take another look and regulate the bump fire stock to death . . .
It was a smart move, politically. Some 80 percent of Americans support a bump fire stock ban. But from a branding point of view, the NRA’s decision to toss the stocks under the proverbial bus was a disaster.
What part of “shall not be infringed” did the NRA consider expendable? That said, the advisability of the NRA’s “it wazzunt me” strategy depends on whether the NRA brand should appeal to its base or the wider public, or both.
If the NRA wants the majority of Americans to view the gun rights group as a positive force for society, to support or at least tolerate the NRA’s pro-gun rights agenda, then yes, the NRA has to base its public stances on public opinion. In that case, villifying bump fire stocks and, what the heck, machine guns was the right thing to do.
If, however, the NRA wants its members and non-member gun rights advocates to support it come what may, the NRA shouldn’t have yielded one inch to public opinion. It should have declared that the Second Amendment prohibits the government from outlawing or regulating any firearms accessory — never mind one that’s nothing more than a piece of plastic.
Setting the NRA’s bump fire appeasement strategy to one side, the familiar anti-NRA propaganda once again highlights the need for the gun rights group to repair its public image. The mainstream media has convinced millions of Americans that the NRA are a bunch of white, racist, greedy “death merchants” beholden to gun companies. A lobby group whose members are redneck, trigger-happy morons.
If the NRA wants to hang onto its base and win support amongst firearms freedom fence-straddlers, it must directly counter this endless smear campaign. In fact, the NRA needs to become so likeable that even people who don’t own guns listen to its arguments and maybe, just maybe, support its goals.
This kindler, gentler NRA would have to stop making all those “America’s safest place” flag-waving, Hollywood-bashing, “make America great again” check-out-the-violent-lefties videos. They warm the hearts of the faithful and raise huge quantities of cash. But they do little to endear the organization to the political mainstream.
I reckon the NRA should promote and defend the Second Amendment absolutist perspective. Bump fire stocks are a distraction from what we really need to do to reduce firearms-related injuries and deaths. National reciprocity is a necessary stepping stone to national constitutional carry. Silencers are the lawful gun owner’s best friend. They should do this work with a song in their heart and a smile on their face (where appropriate).
Or am I wrong? It really is us vs. them. If you’re not with us you’re against us. And NRA execs are doing a great job protecting the brand and, by extension, American gun rights. If the NRA has to pretend to hate bump fire stocks to protect greater gun rights, well, they know what they’re doing and leave them the F alone.