In the last couple days, a new piece from Newsweek has the anti-gun world excited. Why? Because, it says, the NRA is slowly dying. The usual civilian disarmament suspects like Giffords, March For Our Lives, and Everytown slammed the share button, of course, because they think this means they’re winning. But anyone with an actual understanding of the gun rights world knows they’re getting their hopes up for nothing.
On the surface, there’s appears to be cause to cheer if your goal is to disarm the U.S. civilian population. The big, bad, evil NRA, the granddaddy of all pro-gun groups and the people ultimately allegedly responsible for every mass shooting and every gang drive-by, is having trouble retaining its membership. Instead of steaming toward 10 million members, the NRA has actually shrunk from a little over 5 million members to 4.3 million.
If the decline — and the cash drain — continues, they think, the wicked witch will one day be dead, the gun rights movement will be gone, and the United States will finally adopt the strictest European-style gun control laws…right? After all, the media and the gun control industry have been telling their fans and supporters that the NRA is basically the entire pro-gun movement (and the gun industry) for decades. So it must be true.
But, as readers here probably know, these civilian disarmament operations are actually smoking the same stuff they’re selling, and they’re getting high on their own supply. What they don’t realize is that when people running a drug lab do that, the second batch tends to go boom.
If they weren’t busy buying their own propaganda, they’d know that the NRA was actually their friend for many decades. When the “progressive” eugenicists (read: the KKK) wanted to disarm blacks and Hispanics, the NRA didn’t get in their way. When pesky coal miners went to war with the boss, the NRA was there to help them slap a tax on machine guns, allowing progressive era political donors to put down labor strikes with deadly force. When Democrat politicians got shot (perhaps by our own government), the NRA negotiated with them and agreed on even more gun control. Every time they wanted something, the NRA gave it to them.
They only got mad in 1994 when it all blew up in their faces. The gun-owning population was tired of giving the anti-gun mid-wit center-left what they wanted, because it was clear that the goal was complete civilian disarmament. Instead of anti-gun legislation passing, pro-gun laws like allowing licensed concealed carry swept the United States and crime continued to drop. Staunch opposition to gun control led to the sunsetting of 1994 “assault weapon” ban in 2004. And then, states started allowing concealed carry without a permit at all.
But the big secret — the one the gun control industry is apparently unaware of — is that the NRA wasn’t responsible for most of this. New gun rights groups started forming at the grassroots level because gun owners saw that the NRA wasn’t actually protecting gun rights or fighting to restore them.
Groups like the Virginia Citizens Defense League started to spread, with the Arizona Citizens Defense League securing the first constitutional carry victory in an urbanized state. Other groups like the Second Amendment Foundation and later the Firearms Policy Coalition took up the legal battle against gun control.
While all this was going on, the NRA slipped into disarray. Wayne LaPierre set himself up with some very nice benefits using NRA dues. The instructor program spent years half-heartedly making a new concealed carry curriculum, and the existing leadership was more concerned with protecting their own jobs and insane benefits than actually performing the mission of the organization.
Despite the continuing slide in dues-paying NRA members and the tens of millions of NRA money spent on legal fees, the gun rights movement continues to advance and secure victory. The more the members started to realize they’d been scammed, the fewer renewed or wrote checks when the fundraising letters showed up in their mailboxes. It turns out that America’s gun owners actually want results, not cheap range bags, more tired “cold dead hands” speeches, and idiotic “gun confiscation notice” mass mailings.
If anything, the NRA is just what the anti-gun groups need right now. Without being able to continually use them as a straw bogeyman and a distraction, they might have to admit to their donors that the push for gun control isn’t going well at all, and that the cash they’ve thrown at the gun control industry isn’t getting them any closer to the kind of gun-free society they want to see.