American Rifleman is the NRA’s flagship publication and (in my opinion) the best of the various publications put out by the nation’s oldest civil rights organization for its membership. The most recent edition asks a bold question: Do you have Trump’s back? When I saw the cover, my first reaction was visceral . . .
“Do we have Trump’s back?” I rhetorically asked the picture of Nixon and Kissinger in the Oval Office that, inexplicably, hangs over the small table where daily mail is deposited in our entryway. “What about ours??!?”
Arguably, the nation’s 110m+ gun owners made the difference for President Trump in a variety of states with very close margins in November: Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Florida, for instance. One might say that the debt goes in the direction of Trump to us, and not the reverse.
That said, President Trump’s first acts in office have been generally reassuring.
Neil Gorsuch appears to be a fine jurist dedicated to upholding the law, not inventing it out of whole cloth, and the moves to repeal some of President Obama’s vindictive regulations intended to harass legal gun owners are a breath of fresh air. But there’s still a lot of work to do to secure the future of the Second Amendment for our generation and beyond. Gorsuch hasn’t even been confirmed yet.
On a basic level, it seems as though the NRA is putting the cart before the horse. We as gun owners and activists do not have permanent allies or enemies, but rather we have permanent interests in ensuring that the individual right to keep and bear arms endures. To the extent Donald Trump aligns with those interests, we should stand with him; to the extent he doesn’t, we shouldn’t.
It’s hard to remember that point when every two-bit Democrat in Congress from Nancy Pelosi on down has aligned against us on every firearms issue, using gun owners — incorrigible deplorables that we are — as objects of hate and contempt to rally their base. It’s easy to forget that Democrats like John Dingell stood — and continue to stand — proudly with the NRA, even if their numbers appear to be dwindling thanks to self-selection, and pressure from the monied plutocrats in Silicon Valley and New York City whose cash is vital to any Democrat running for office.
It’s also true that the author of The Art of the Deal has always been less of a “what have you done for me lately” fellow, and more a “what did you do for me in the last two hours” kind of guy.
NRA chiefs LaPierre, Cors, and Cox make that point in no uncertain terms in their own articles in the April issue. There is a culture war going on, and participation is, unfortunately, not voluntary. The left, already fighting against our civil liberties in so many areas, is waging a scorched-earth campaign to bring down the Trump administration, and gun rights will be collateral damage if they can succeed. These are simple facts, obvious to anyone who’s been paying attention lately.
I still had a visceral reaction to the cover, though. Perhaps it’s because the headline is so…presumptuous. Suggesting the NRA was there to serve the Administration. I don’t think that’s the direction that the nation’s oldest civil rights organization is really heading in…but it sure was easy to mentally make that link. And I sure didn’t like that picture.
What’s your take?