Over the last couple days the mainstream media has been all over the story about how the NRA is dealing out wrist-slaps to Open Carry Texas. News reporting institutions from Fox News to NPR are running with the story, sparked by an open letter posted online by the NRA. While at first glance this might appear to be a blunder on the part of the NRA and the beginning of some nasty in-fighting among gun rights groups, I think that this latest move is a more calculated and effective step for the NRA than one might expect . . .
But now, the NRA’s Chris Cox has backpedaled. It was all a big mistake, he told Cam and Company. It’s already out there, though, and reversing the NRA’s position now probably won’t appease OCT much.
The NRA has historically positioned itself as the vanguard in the fight for gun rights in the United States. As a result the opposition (Bloomberg and his employees, Democrats in general, the New York Times et al.) have singled them out as the primary target for their anti-gun ire. The effect of that concentrated and repeated Two Minutes Hate against the NRA is a belief among gun control activists that the NRA is pure evil — that it can do no right, and should be immediately and vehemently opposed in anything it says or does without so much as a second thought.
When an enemy believes that you’re the devil incarnate, there’s no possibility of meaningful debate or discussion. Everything you say is immediately discounted, and there’s no potential for progress. While the NRA uses YouTube to try to get around the media to get their message out, they obviously also want to try to break the stranglehold that these groups have on their followers. The best way? Prove them wrong.
If the constant drumbeat is that the NRA is an extremist — “terrorist” in the words of many gun control activists — organization, they need to counter that. What better way than by breaking with a vocal and very visible group engaging in controversial activity? In this case, simply asking Open Carry Texas to simmer down.
The effects of that one open letter have been fairly stunning. The story all over the news that the NRA is breaking ties with “extreme” groups, which by extension makes the NRA a moderate voice of reason. The tone isn’t one of vitriol, but mostly one of support from the mainstream press, and might actually be winning the NRA some points. In short, the strategy is working beautifully.
At the same time, the stance isn’t “radical” enough to get most gun owners riled up, even those who may favor open carry. It’s a drop in the bucket, a small gesture that might open a rift between Open Carry Texas and the NRA, but it isn’t the end of the world. What it does, however, is make those who have been painting the NRA as the devil look like extremists and radicals by comparison. The strategy hasn’t earned any friends in OCT, but it might just dislodge some of those closer to the fence in the opposing camp.