The Failing NRA

The National Rifle Association (NRA) is the largest gun rights advocacy group in the United States (and probably the world). They’re feared by gun control advocates and cheered by most gun rights advocates. It’s easy to see why since the NRA has a notable history of success when it comes to fighting gun control legislation. Unfortunately success is often followed by stagnation and it has become apparent that the NRA has become stagnant.

The NRA’s primary power is its influence in the political system. When the NRA throws their support behind a politician gun control and gun rights advocates perk up. In the case of gun control advocates they take the NRA’s endorsement as a reason to oppose a politician while gun rights activists take the NRA’s endorsement as a reason to support a politician. This presidential election is important to note because both of the leading candidates have a history of opposing gun rights. It would seem in order to remain consistent supporters of gun rights the NRA would have to either endorse a third-party candidate or nobody. Instead they have decided to officially endorse Mitt Romney:

NRA Executive vice president Wayne LaPierre and NRA Political Victory Fund chairman Chris Cox will formally announce the endorsement at a Romney rally in Virginia later Thursday evening. Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan will also be on hand.

When all you have is a hammer it’s easy to see every problem as a nail. Let’s consider the situation, the NRA’s most effective tool to defend gun rights cannot be applied in this presidential election because both leading candidates oppose gun rights. Instead of searching their toolbox for a different tool they’ve allowed themselves to give their support to a candidate who open supports an “assault weapon” ban.

I’m glad the NRA isn’t the only game in town. If organizations like the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) didn’t exist we would soon find ourselves stuck between a rock and a hard place. The NRA exhibits typic behavior or a large behemoth organization, wild success has cause it to be entirely unable to innovate. While the NRA continues with its strategy of endorsing candidates even though no pro-gun candidates exist SAF has opted for the strategy of filing lawsuits against violators of gun rights. Both District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago were SAF lead initiatives (which the NRA later tried to claim credit for) that ended up being very successful. Being smaller and more nimble SAF was able to recognize a failure in the NRA’s strategy and try something else.

It’s come to the point where I wish an NRA membership wasn’t required to maintain my Oakdale Gun Club membership. That requirement is the only reason I keep renewing my NRA membership. Instead of sending additional money to the NRA’s Political Victory Fund I send money to other organizations like SAF. Endorsing Romney is an overt move against gun rights and I don’t support organizations that oppose gun rights.