10 months, 2 weeks ago
Matt Valentine writing at The Atlantic has a breathless story about how the up and coming power broker on the gun scene is the National Shooting Sports Foundation.
Every year from 1998 through 2010, the NRA spent at least ten times more than the NSSF on direct lobbying. Today those numbers are converging—the NRA has spent $1.7 million so far in 2013, compared to $1.1 million spent by the NSSF, mostly in efforts to loosen state requirements for concealed carry permits. The NRA still boasts the political muscle to sway the outcome of major legislation, but the big gun lobby’s intervention is conspicuous and subject to ridicule, and an NRA campaign contribution can sometimes become a political liability—in a 2013 PPP poll, 39% of respondents said they would be less likely to vote for a candidate backed by the NRA, whereas only 26% said they’d be more likely to. This April, when Senator Mitch McConnell (the NRA’s single biggest recipient of campaign contributions) used procedural tactics to block an expanded background check bill, NRA Board member Adolphous Busch publicly resigned from the organization, saying the group “clearly places priority on the needs of gun and ammunition manufacturers while disregarding the opinions of [its] 4 million individual members.”
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This year, with gun deaths expected to exceed 31,000, and with the public more acutely aware of every tragic shooting, the NSSF managed to grab some positive headlines for a gesture of political compromise. During the senate hearings in the confirmation of B. Todd Jones to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the NSSF issued an open letter, endorsing President Obama’s nominee. A close reading reveals that the statement of support is hardly a ringing endorsement: “Undoubtedly, we will disagree with the ATF from time-to-time and are fully prepared to take the steps necessary to represent the interest of our industry members, but we are confident that under Mr. Jones we can agree to disagree with ATF in a mutually respectful manner.” However lukewarm, the letter was a surprising development—together with the NRA, the NSSF had pressured legislators to block every previous nominee for the ATF directorship since 2006. But under the threat of the “nuclear option” to change filibuster rules, Senate leaders had already agreed to confirm all of Obama’s appointments this summer. With Jones’s appointment a foregone conclusion, the main effect of the NSSF endorsement was to soften the headlines that would have otherwise prevailed (i.e. “ATF director finally confirmed after seven years of gun lobby resistance”).
Matt apparently believes the propaganda that gun owners really do support universal background checks. This, along with some wishful thinking, has led him to conclude that the NRA is out of touch with its membership, while the more moderate NSSF is the up and coming powerhouse, more reasonable and less prone to extremes.
But Mike Vanderboegh calls the NSSF quislings and appeasers, and David Codrea and others lampoon not the NRA, but the NSSF. In my extensive writing on the universal background checks, I somehow missed the fact that the NSSF had weighed in. Had I caught this, I probably would have said something like they are a willing tool of Satan.
And it’s beyond me why anyone would think that gun owners care what Adolphous Busch had to say about anything. The real rift that Matt misses because he is writing about something totally foreign to him, is that whether the subject is the NSSF or the NRA, they will all be held accountable for their sins if they ever sell out gun owners and side with the wicked totalitarians.