Conspiracy theories are all well and good–until someone puts a Twin Tower out. Then you take your eye off the ball, mistaking your friends for enemies and encouraging Mel Gibson to make movies that are only slightly more credible than Plan 9 From Outer Space. When it comes to separating fact from fevered imagination, go with Occam’s Razor: the simplest explanation is most likely correct.
On one hand, the National Rifle Association (NRA) may be endorsing/supporting/funding not-so-anti-gun candidates to ensure that they have something to fight against. Intentionally subverting their own cause to protect it. On the other, politics makes strange bedfellows; and boy, does the NRA sleep around.
Charlotte Gun Rights Examiner writer Paul Valone comes down firmly on the side of tin foil millinery . . .
If gun laws were suddenly declared unconstitutional or otherwise repealed, the NRA would be unnecessary. Given the salary and benefits accrued by NRA chief executives, success (and obscurity) is not an option.
According to the 2008 IRS Form 990 for the NRA1, Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre raked in $1,263,101 per year; NRA Institute for Legislative Action EVP Chris Cox made $661,059; Treasurer Wilson Phillips made $649,463; General Operations Executive Director Kayne Robinson benefitted to the tune of $602,608; and last, Secretary Edward Land, Jr. trails the pack with a measly $509,186.
Plus health care, travel and expenses. But I’m not buying it. The NRA is a huge bureaucratic enterprise; they have an annual budget of $307 million and plenty of wampum in the war chest. Even if legislative reform suddenly rendered the 500-pound guerilla gun rights group in the room surplus to requirements, it would take them decades to collapse. Look at GM. IBM. Kodak. They’re still here.
Which is a bit queer—until you realize the sheer scope of their operations. As for those salaries, what’s the bet that the CEOs at the former giants still pull down gigantic salaries? Before he ran Chrysler into the ground, the Home Depot paid Chairman Bob “Prowler” Nardelli $210 million to screw it up and piss off. LaPierre and his cronies are hardly staring down the barrel of poverty now, or ever.
All that said, you don’t have to be a gun blogger to know that the NRA has been ramping-up the hysteria despite numerous gun rights victories. They see a direct connection between members’ paranoia and NRA donations. They’re institutionally addicted to the cycle of fear and fund-raising.
Which is, as Valone suggests, at least partially responsible for the NRA’s situational ethics. The bottom line: they’re like gamblers. Winning or losing is important, but being in the game is everything. There’s no getting around it: the NRA will play with anyone. And as long as the money keeps flowing in, failure is impossible.