[ED: We asked for readers to give us their thoughts on the the current controversies swirling around the National Rifle Association and we’ve received a number of thoughtful responses. Click the link above if you’d like to contribute, too. Here are a few more of your responses and we’ll be running more over the next few days.]
I’ve been a member of the NRA for almost five years now. I became one immediately after getting my LTC. I live in Massachusetts, so defending and (God willing) expanding gun rights is a very important issue to me.
I remember the run on the gun shops when Healey proclaimed her ban. I missed out, and still don’t own an AR or AK.
The NSSF is supporting a lawsuit to overturn that. GOAL (our state NRA affiliate), GOA, Comm2A (another state gun rights organization), and the SAF have all supported or initiated actions directly opposing unconstitutional infringements on my rights as a MA and US citizen.
Maybe I’m jaded, but the one consequential action I can recall the NRA supporting and achieving since I became a member is the Bump Stock ban. What the hell am I paying for? I don’t know if I should renew my membership or not and I look to outlets like TTAG to help make these decisions.
The NRA is the elephant in the room when it comes to gun rights, but I honestly don’t feel like they’re helping anymore.
From reader Jay Bethel:
I am a Patron Life Member of the NRA and while I do not contribute to them lately, I believe they have been, and still are, essential to keeping our 2nd Amendment rights.
Having said that I am also disappointed and disgusted by the current situation.
Granted, a good part of the trouble the NRA faces is NOT self-inflicted, as in the illegal financial moves by the NY state government, and a focused, well-financed effort to attack the NRA by anti-rights groups and individuals.
However, I personally feel that there are a lot of stupid issues caused by arrogance and a sense of entitlement on the part of the top leadership. All of this together indicates to me that the leadership has been asleep at the wheel and has allowed the organization to fall into the difficulties it now faces. Some changes are needed.
I do not feel qualified to assess the leadership as individuals, but I do know that appearances count these days. In the anger and pain after the Sandy Hook shootings I came to the conclusion that Wayne LaPierre was a terrible spokesman for gun owners and that he should be replaced, or defer the task to someone more clever on their feet, at ease on camera, and more charismatic. He is simply terrible on TV.
Many other gun rights organizations are up-and-coming, and due to this situation they are building bigger memberships and clout. However I believe part of that is due to the fact that they were able to operate, “under the radar” for years while the NRA took the hits – the anger and hatred focused on NRA allowed the more nimble organizations to be more effective and avoid scrutiny by the left.
In closing, I believe we really do need the NRA, but the NRA needs us, and it must stop the damage control and coverups. NRA must rein-in its lousy spending habits, fix its insatiable hunger for more and more funding and the waste that engenders, and put gun rights first above all else. In my mind that means that a few people at the top need to be replaced with more capable, effective individuals.
And this from Chance McCall:
As a Life Member of the NRA, I have been concerned for a number of years that the organizational structure of the NRA and the lack of governance by its Board of Directors would lead to a crisis like the one the NRA is now facing. Since I consider myself to be a part of the NRA and I consider the NRA my house, I am very disappointed with what has been going on and what happened at the annual meeting and the lies about what happened behind closed doors on Monday.
I want the NRA to succeed and continue to function. As a gun owner I am very concerned this may not happen. I am pleading with the Board of Directors to take control and fix the operational problems. Any not-for-profit association that allows the paid staff to control their Board of Directors has a serious problem.
One of the long-standing problems has been that the NRA has only managed to enroll a small percentage of active gun owners. This robs the pro gun movement of both money and grass root strength. The current publicity will only make it harder to increase the percentage of gun owners who join and get involved.
I am not ignorant of the complexities of dealing with either the public, the press, or elected officials. I understand the importance of proper dress. However, the issue of clothing costs is not defensible even to me.
I, until I retired a year ago, operated a large political consulting operation in Illinois. All of the principals wore made-to-measure suits. The average cost was around $3,000.00 per suit, not the outrageous numbers your internal documents indicate was being spent. More importantly, everyone paid for their own wardrobe.
Do the NRA insiders who recently defended these clothes in a Facebook post have any idea how a typical member views these kind of expenses when considering how much, if any, money they should send to the NRA given their own income is statistically under $50,000 per year? And, that does not cover the cost of trips as an issue.
I used to do work for President Reagan which meant traveling from Springfield, Illinois to Washington D.C. on a fairly regular basis. Never once did I use private flights or limos to get there or return. I currently am part of a national consulting company and none of our consultants who travel regularly travel first class or beyond, even though our clients pay the travel expenses.
Given the recent, very intellectually insulting Facebook post, my hopes have dropped even farther that the Board will accept responsibility for the problems they have created, but I still hope that the few Board members who really care can lead a charge to change the Board to new members who are ready and willing to fix the NRA.