I responded to an email blast and attended an organizational meeting of the St. Louis area Friends of the NRA group last week. They’re getting ready to put on their annual rubber chicken dinner and fundraiser on April 5. Proceeds fund the NRA Foundation’s grants to kids’ shooting and safety programs, high school rifle teams, Boy Scout troops, range improvements and general support of the shooting sports. All good causes aimed at getting more shooters out there having fun, pulling triggers and promoting the next generation of gun owners. Missouri, as you might expect, is fairly fertile ground for the NRA. Friends chapters hold 26 dinners across the state (and 1100 nationwide) each year. But the smallest of those . . .
events in the Show Me State happens in St. Louis, its largest city. Last year, the Gateway chapter fundraiser – held in an area with population of 2.5 million – drew 200 people. That may not sound too bad until you hear that places like Columbia attracted 1100. Sedalia packed 950 in. Poplar Bluff, 700. Hell, there were 500 in Cape Girardeau. And even worse, according to Travis Scott, the NRA’s local field rep, Kansas City (1.8 million souls) doesn’t even have a chapter or hold a dinner/fundraiser at all.
That small-town America is more gun-friendly than are larger urban centers is about as surprising as Moms Demand Action’s feeble attempts at agitprop falling flat on their collective face. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t still large numbers of passionate gun owners in those higher density areas. People ready, willing and able to support the shooting sports with their hard-earned cash. The question is, how to reach them.
When Missouri’s two largest cities, with a combined population of 4.3 million people, can only manage as many contributors as some of the state’s tiniest towns, the NRA has a problem. And a huge missed opportunity. So assume you’re running the the NRA Foundation. How do you get the attention of more suburbanites and urban dwellers? What do you do, Jack? What do you do?