Should I Renew My NRA Membership?

BY Herschel Smith
11 years, 1 month ago

It’s membership renewal time, and I cannot forget that Wayne LaPierre endorsed Harry Reid, saying “He is a true champion of the Second Amendment back in Washington, DC.”  There was ultimately no NRA endorsement, with Chris Cox saying “Reid’s push to confirm Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan” prevented the NRA from endorsing Reid.

Actually, it was the strong reaction by NRA membership that prevented it from happening.  Reid secured a significant amount of money for a shooting range in Clark County, Nevada (61 million dollars of tax money, to be precise), and there has been significant politicking on this issue within the NRA, with a gag order being issued to members of the NRA board on the Kagan nomination.

And here I thought that the NRA was above buy offs, influence peddling, and general corruption.  Even now it isn’t clear to me why Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox cannot simply be kicked to the curb and new leadership installed?  Thuggish behavior should not be tolerated, and the NRA deserves better leadership that these two men.  It is enough that they should beclown themselves and instigate internecine warfare on the board; we shouldn’t allow it to happen to the NRA too.

Yet I am just a member, and I know that there are other organizations that promise to be above the influence peddling.  So do I dump the NRA or give them one more chance?

Note: For Harry Reid’s record on the 2nd Amendment, see here.

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  1. On November 29, 2010 at 8:57 am, Rev. Mike said:

    I’m shocked, shocked to find gambling going on in this establishment. When the day is done, Wayne LaPierre is just another hack lobbyist, and we should not be surprised to hear him acting like one. Ditto with Chris Cox. Saw them both at the convention back in May and could not, for the life of me, distinguish them from the appliance salesmen at the Home Depot. Better suits, but other than that …

    If you think that the NRA is all that stands between us and having our guns taken from us bit by bit, then renew. Personally, I’m not aware of anyone else doing the job. If not, put the money to some other good use.

  2. On November 29, 2010 at 9:02 am, bob sykes said:

    Here in Ohio, the NRA endorsed Strickland for Governor and Zack Space for the House of Representatives, two known socialists. How they missed endorsing Kucinic is beyond understanding.

    I, too, and reconsidering my NRA membership. There’s always the 2nd Amendment Foundation.

  3. On November 29, 2010 at 10:36 am, Burk said:

    Might I ask what the NRA exists for any more? They have their supreme court sign-off on individual ownership now, not only militia-based ownership. What is next? Personal rights to howitzers? To nuclear arms?

  4. On November 29, 2010 at 10:58 am, John Richardson said:

    As much as I gag sometimes when I see Wayne LaPierre and think Chris Cox is smarmy, I upgraded my membership earlier this year to a Life Membership. So I guess the answer is yes. They drive me nuts sometime but on balance I would rather see them around than not.

    If just can’t bring yourself to do it, join the Second Amendment Foundation. You don’t get junk mail from them and they really are doing good work in the courts to expand Second Amendment rights. They funded McDonald v. Chicago. That says it all for me.

  5. On November 29, 2010 at 11:03 am, warlord said:

    Yup! they are sitting in the waste basket right alongside AARP.

  6. On November 29, 2010 at 11:17 am, schizuki said:

    I’m an NRA member, I’m pretty much a conservative (econ, not social), I utterly despise Harry Reid, and I’ll be renewing without hesitation. Why?

    Because the NRA is a GUN RIGHTS organization. It is not, nor it should be, an appendage of the Republican party or a conservative PAC. If they become so, they jeopardize their mission.

    If Harry Reid has a good enough gun rights voting record to earn a positive grade, or even an endorsement, from the NRA, they should – and MUST – do so. There are no other considerations that they should entertain. There are plenty of other political organizations that I can and do support who can work to get rid of Harry for very good reasons outside of gun rights.

    Gun rights and the acceptance of gun culture have advanced to a point that I would never in my wildest dreams have predicted twenty years ago. The NRA deserves much of the credit for that.

  7. On November 29, 2010 at 11:19 am, Stranger said:

    While how gun owners spend their money is their business, I well remember when the NRA was a National Guard and Ready Reserve ONLY organization. It was not until 1968 that the organization started welcoming civilian members. With the signature of “Your commanding officer, an officer of the US Armed forces, or your chief law enforcement officer” on your membership application.

    Those were miserable days when those of us fighting the gun control advocates were essentially on our own. You do not want to go back to those days, simply because there would be nothing to argue about if the NRA had not shifted to a one issue organization in 1968. The gun banners would have won, and Americans would be as disarmed as the Brits.

    But they did shift policy, and we are winning. And the NRA is a very large part of that. But the NRA is far from perfect. If you do not like LaPierre and Co. and their policies you have one excellent remedy. The TEA Party solution. Vote them out.

    Every lifer, and every long time member, will get a ballot in a couple of months. Take the time to find out who is a hard nosed no-compromise candidate, and vote them in. That is all it takes. No more, and no less.

    Your choice – but progress toward rational gun laws (NONE!) will be a lot slower if the NRA loses support.


  8. On November 29, 2010 at 11:24 am, Dannytheman said:

    I get the whole Harry Reed issue. He was great for 2nd amendment, but sucks at everything else. NRA is a 2nd amendment org, and the conservative membership often forgets the basics.

    I tell you to renew, and vote in upcoming elections if you qualify for a packet. Get a new board by voting. Only 3.2% of elligible NRA members vote. Now where does the problem lie?

  9. On November 29, 2010 at 11:30 am, rrr said:

    “Because the NRA is a GUN RIGHTS organization. It is not, nor it should be, an appendage of the Republican party or a conservative PAC. If they become so, they jeopardize their mission.”

    Re-read paragraph 2 and then repost so as to make it clear you are actually aware of what is being discussed.

  10. On November 29, 2010 at 11:38 am, Skyler said:

    I quit the NRA a few years ago. They have done precious little for gun rights. In over a hundred years of existence they have not brought a case to the US Supreme Court, and when a winning case was finally brought by an individual, they not only didn’t support it, they tried to sink it.

    They are worse than helpful, they exist almost solely to support Wayne and their staffers. They are so immersed in lobbying that they aren’t trying to support gun ownership rights. They consistently seek to increase their lobbying power, not gun owners’ rights.

    They are still quite powerful, but they need massive reform or replacement.

  11. On November 29, 2010 at 11:45 am, Greg said:

    For those who think that Sen. Reid was “great for 2nd amendment,” perhaps you should do your homework a little better. I guess if you think that making deals instead of upholding the Constitution is “great,” well then…. good luck to you.

    The facts are clear: The NRA has, time and again, compromised on the Second Amendment rather than truly protecting it. Senator Reid is just one example (albeit a very good one). DISCLOSE Act? Health Care Bill? Liberal/progressive Supreme Court nominations? All of these were supported by those the NRA funded, and would have (or will) — through various ways like increasing the size and scope of government as well as indirect regulations (and direct laws, in the case of the Supreme Court) — impeded on Second Amendment rights.

    Yet those in the NRA — and by proxy those who support it — turn a blind eye to creeping legislation and backdoor deals because it’s not *direct* gun control. The Second Amendment Foundation, Gun Owners of America, Rocky Mountain Gun Owners and the National Association for Gun Rights are doing far more to protect the true meaning of the Second Amendment now than the NRA is, and the sooner people realize that, the better.

    National Association for Gun Rights: No compromise.

  12. On November 29, 2010 at 12:01 pm, mikeSilver said:

    Send your money to the Second Amendment Foundation. They are the leaders in fighting for our 2nd Amendment and self-defense rights. Plus, more of your money gets spent on “the cause” than with the NRA.

    Have you ever seen the American Rifleman article with the NRA proclaiming that they’ve always supported gun control?

    Here the source of those links:

  13. On November 29, 2010 at 12:08 pm, Robert said:

    You should have a life membership and CALL them and complain. Not only about the endorsements, but of trying to claim credit for the court victories of Alan Gura.

    While you are at it, join the 2nd Amendment Foundation.

  14. On November 29, 2010 at 12:17 pm, Dave Hardy said:

    Suppose the NRA had demanded that the tea party endorse Reid, on the grounds that he did good things for shooting and was generally good on the Second Amendment, and if the tea party didn’t back him it would prove it was antigun?

    I think we can agree that would be out of line. I see the converse situation — tea party demanding that NRA oppose Reid because they oppose him on their issues — as the same.

    Different things were being risked. If Reid had been defeated, Chuck Schumer would be incoming majority leader. From a tea party standpoint, that’s no big change; I assume both are equally bad. From a gun rights standpoint, it’s a bloody disaster. Especially since doing something affirmative (the manufacturers’ liability protection act, the guns in parks act, etc.) had been shown to be possible.

  15. On November 29, 2010 at 12:29 pm, Lina Inverse said:

    The NRA’s opposition to Heller, was based on the concern that Sandra Day O’Connor might still be on the Supreme Court when the case hit it or that her replacement would also be anti-gun. That was a legitimate difference in opinion.

    The NRA is of course run for the benefit of its leaders but it’s mostly run for the benefit of its advertising company, Ackerman McQueen. The current leadership of the NRA cannot be kicked to the curb: the Cincinnati Revolt in 1977 that put the NRA back on the track of fighting gun control can no longer happen due to bylaws changes to prevent such a thing from ever happening again. And its Board is way too large to preform any sort of oversight, not that it matters with the leadership controlling the nominating process and taking advantage of their power over the membership publications.

    If you want to focus on the single issue of gun control, the GOA is not a good choice (look at what they score as “anti-gun” and decide for yourself).

    Unfortunately, while I think the Second Amendment Foundation is the current best organization to give money to due to the conference they run, the magazines they publish and the lawsuits they fund, you’ll still get a lot of begging letters from them (and I suspect for the same reason as with the NRA). If you only pay for a basic membership, they’ll spend more money sending you these than the received from you. But they are a whole lot less obnoxious than the NRA’s.

    To finish, prior to the “assault weapons” ban, all anti-gun Federal legislation was passed with the approval of the NRA (generally an Republican establishment style “compromise” where the gun grabbers only got part of what they wanted but we got nothing) and there have been examples since then, e.g. the recent “Veterans Disarmament Law”. Based on that, I gave up my membership a long time ago, having no wish to belong to America’s most effective gun *control* organization. I.e. look at what they do, not at what they say.

  16. On November 29, 2010 at 12:37 pm, Clark E Myers said:

    Some of your questions have long been answered.

    The Cincinnatti members revolt turned the NRA around and was eventually followed by the new insiders making another such member’s revolt at the annual meeting impossible – mostly finally accomplished at an annual meeting in Washington state 20 years later. Many have rightly pointed to flaws in the NRA – few have pointed to practical solutions. See e.g. the Knox family.

    Likely you are familiar with what Dr. Pournelle (Jerry) calls the iron law that some folks in a bureaucracy work for the goals and some for the structure and eventually the goals are sacrifced to the structure and so forgotten. It’s an iron law with no exceptions but with differing time lags before the goals go by the board. This time is coming for the NRA but not yet here.

    As noted the NRA does not have a roving commission to do good but rather to support 2nd Amendment rights. There is nobody today doing a better job at the national level – so yes rejoin and upgrade your membership if you support the cause – not the organization, the cause the goal. This assumes folks will first support a local club, then a state organization then the National Rifle Association – don’t subscribe to a magazine and figure it’s all done.

    I was at Cincinnatti and other annual meetings before and after, I’ve seen the sausage made and I’m a Benefactor member of the NRA. With all its faults the NRA has earned support – but maybe not to be the first or only group somebody might support by action or contribution.

  17. On November 29, 2010 at 12:39 pm, Brett Bellmore said:

    “But the NRA is far from perfect. If you do not like LaPierre and Co. and their policies you have one excellent remedy. The TEA Party solution. Vote them out. “

    Um, no. We *had* that option at one time. It’s been essentially stripped away, in all but appearance, due to NRA recommended candidates being listed right next to the ballot, and independent board candidates being denied access to the mailing list. Among other ‘reforms’ designed to neuter membership control. The NRA, purposely, controls access to the membership, so that it’s virtually impossible to organize within the NRA against the ruling clique.

    That said, I think they do more good than bad, and, indeed, their only rightful concern is the 2nd amendment, on which Reid is not too bad.

  18. On November 29, 2010 at 12:43 pm, H. Myers said:

    Let’s not forget the NRA’s sellout on the DISCLOSE Act. Thankfully that one did not pass. Granted the NRA is a single issue organization, but selling out the rest of the Bill of Rights is a craven act.

    I agree that leadership is the problem. I would suggest a basic membership and no more. The NRA, for it’s faults, is still our number one defense against the Schumers and their ilk. But also consider CCRKBA and other organizations who understand that the Bill of Rights are linked and that separation is isolation, then defeat.

  19. On November 29, 2010 at 12:59 pm, JamesT said:

    For many of us, being an NRA member is not an option. Many of the outdoor rifle ranges near me require a NRA membership to join the range, so I can give up rifles and go pistol only….or join the NRA.

  20. On November 29, 2010 at 1:04 pm, Ranten N. Raven said:

    Answer: No.

    Fooling the members while supporting the gun-grabbers in back-room deals is nothing new. The NRA even supported the National Firearms Act of 1934. See

  21. On November 29, 2010 at 1:06 pm, Steven said:

    Yes, the shooting range stinks; it was clearly a sweetener. But it’s a bridge too far to assume it was a quid pro quo. If I wanted to make you think well of me, and I were a manipulative bastard, I might buy a gift for one of your friends. If I were an amoral politician, in a political culture where it was expected I’d buy the gift with Treasury money, I’d do it with Treasury money. And even though you didn’t ask for it, and you resolve to yourself not to be influenced, it might well improve your attitude to me through you seeing your friend enjoying the gift, and your friend telling you how happy he is with it.

    If you want to write off the NRA leadership because Washington works that way, you’re saying you don’t want anybody trying to lobby Congress at all. Because anybody who is effective in lobbying Congress will find favors being done for their friends and allies in an attempt at influence. The only way you can avoid anything that looks like corruption is to react by relentlessly assaulting anybody who does your friends/allies a favor—at which point you will render yourself ineffective as a lobbyist, because people will instead try to avoid you entirely.

    The way to do the analysis here is to ignore the side favors. Instead, is Reid himself bad on Senate action regarding the Second Amendment? And the answer is he isn’t. He’s probably as good as any Democrat in a leadership position in the Senate could be. So it’s reasonable for the NRA to be supportive of him.

    On some of the other issues brought up:

    There are (at least) three different fronts in the battle against gun restrictions; the courts, elections, and legislative influence. The NRA is focused on the third (the second being more a matter of carrots and sticks used on their front, not their focus), and it does a good job there, and it’s genuinely useful to have it fighting there.

    Does it overfocus? Sure. But the generals on a specific front always overfocus on their front, and they always politick to get the other fronts shorted to support their front, and they always do their best to claim the victories on other fronts were a result of their efforts on their front. That’s how human beings work.

    The key is to work with that, not against that. You’re not going to get Patton to worry about MacArthur’s troubles and vice-versa. Instead, also support an organization that focuses on the courts, and also support an organization that focuses on elections. The NRA will bitch about that making their work harder, because it does. Just ignore their bitching and support both the NRA and the Second Amendment Foundation.

  22. On November 29, 2010 at 1:29 pm, Wellington said:

    Yes, renew. NRA is a Second Amendment organization.

    The very definition of politics is building alliances to support your primary goal. While it’s easy to get disgusted by it let’s not forget that the only alternative to politics is war.

    The gun control issue will never go away but I like the current trend and I say the NRA strategy is working.

    I suggest that like many of us you address through different organizations all the other things that clearly disturb you as much as they disturb me. I can support the NRA and work to get rid of Harry Reid at the same time.


    “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself , I am large, I contain multitudes.” Walt Whitman

  23. On November 29, 2010 at 1:34 pm, David Starr said:

    The NRA has been tremendously effective. It got Heller thru the Supreme Court. Members get a steady stream of powerful literature going into the election. The center spread of October Am. Riflemn. was a complete list of every one running for every office in New Hampshire, with their rating on second amendment. They endorsed Republican Charlie Bass for US Rep. That probably pushed Charlie over the top. Charlie is not everyone’s favorite Republican but he was light years ahead of the democratic candidate.
    With a winning track record like that, I’m gonna keep sending in my dues, and maybe a little extra. Politics is the art of the possible.

  24. On November 29, 2010 at 1:42 pm, Gaston said:

    Proud to never have been a member of the NRA. Instead my Second Amendment dollars go to Gun Owners of America and the Virginia Citizen’s Defense League. As best as I can tell Lapierre never should have run the NRA. It is not just that guys like Joaquin Jackson (Google that with NRA Board and you’ll see what I mean) are “better” than us, the real issue is that the bizarre election process to the NRA board perpetuates the cult of personality for Lapierre. I feel that every elected official needs to run scared in order to work hard for the voting constituency. NRA does not do that.

    Although I do not buy into everything Mr. Feldman wrote in Richochet: Confessions of a Gun Lobbiest, it was more than enough to sour me on the NRA. Don’t get me wrong, the Second Amendment is a big tent and there is room for “those crazy guys” from the NRA. They just don’t represent MY best interests and I do not like it when the general public thinks that we are ONLY the NRA.

    IMHO there are plenty of other organizations where dollar for dollar your Second Amendment money will do more for you.

  25. On November 29, 2010 at 2:21 pm, tom swift said:

    Renew? Yes.

    Like all other Civil Rights organizations, it is sometimes a force for good, and arguably sometimes a force for evil. But NRA is more often a force for good than evil. Hence, citizens concerned about gun rights should support it.

    Other organizations should be supported too. GOA, GOAL, and JPFO are worthy groups. No need to be overly picky.

  26. On November 29, 2010 at 2:30 pm, prochazka_the_insane said:

    Life Member since the 80’s, so I can’t quit paying dues …. and they still do some (maybe even a lot of) good. Agree with everything they do, hmmm, not so much. Overall, though, I am happier being a member than not.
    That said, I have been watching them slowly going down the tubes for years now; the Jerry Pournelle quote above is quite on point. Just think of “American Rifleman” from 20 years ago and compare it to last months copy. The volume of fundraising mail I get has at least doubled over the same time.
    Furthermore and not on topic exactly, I could say the same thing about other national organizations I belong to. I vote in the directors elections and hope for the best.

  27. On November 29, 2010 at 3:46 pm, Mkelley said:

    I recently quit my membership when I heard the ad for lefty Ted Strickland bragging about his NRA endorsement. The nanny state these socialists politicians are pushing will be toxic for all our rights, including the right to bear arms. They will just take away the gun right last after they have gotten all the other ones.

  28. On November 29, 2010 at 3:46 pm, Raoul said:

    Should you renew? That depends. Are you a defender of the Bill Of Rights and Second Amendment or just another Republican Party Girl?

    Harry Reid voted against Clinton’s AWB in 1994. The phony, fraud “Compassionate Conservative” G.W. Bush supported it and spent 4 years trying to force its re-passage through the GOP Congress.

    Then Congressman Ted Strickland bucked his party and President to vote against the AWB in ’94. The phony, fraud “conservative” John Kasich voted for the Clinton AWB in ’94 and voted against its repeal in ’96.

    The NRA is single issue and non-partisan. It doesn’t grade candidates on school prayer or price supports for sugar beets.

    If you want it to stay that way, please renew. If you want the NRA to subjugate itself to the GOP which endorses and funds gun ban candidates, please leave. We’ve got enough Republican sucking weak sisters as it is.

  29. On November 29, 2010 at 5:25 pm, schizuki said:

    “Re-read paragraph 2 and then repost so as to make it clear you are actually aware of what is being discussed.”

    I read it right the first time, ace, but just for you I gave it another read. Guess what? Neither time did it make a goddamn bit of difference to what I wrote. Maybe you could re-read my comment and then repost so as to make it clear you are actually aware of what I’m talking about.

  30. On November 29, 2010 at 5:36 pm, Ranten N. Raven said:

    Harry Reid voted against Clinton’s AWB in 1994.

    Really? Via RedState there’s a link to vote number 294 on the 1994 H.R. 3355 bill, and the text of the bill is available there. The vote by Reid? “Yea.”

    As for the Heller case, the NRA only got behind it after they failed to scuttle it.

    (Thank God for the Internet!)

  31. On November 29, 2010 at 6:18 pm, scott s. said:

    As a competitor in conventional pistol (aka Bullseye) NRA membership is pretty much a given, though I guess you could compete in CMP EIC matches only, or go into international shooting, though the differences between international and bullseye are so great it’s hard to really compare. I think the split of NRA and USA Shooting has been unfortunate for the sport.

    It is possible to critique the NRA competitions division, though, I’m not sure they get as much support from the top level as they should. (As an aside, I didn’t like the decision to discontinue print distribution of “Shooting Sports” though I can see why they did it).

    I don’t like the NRA custom of having a huge number of directors, many seem to be there just for their celebrity status. If your only concern is RKBA and NRA-ILA then I guess you can argue forever and go with Knox if you prefer.

    Don’t forget besides RKBA we’re seeing more and more attacks on ranges and hunting. So you can own a firearm but you can’t actually shoot it.

    There’s also the problems that FFL holders have and many times the trade groups act in ways counter to small FFLs. I think NRA could do more to support FFLs, but no other group will do anything.

  32. On November 29, 2010 at 6:26 pm, Seattle Con said:

    ” David Starr said:

    The NRA has been tremendously effective. It got Heller thru the Supreme Court. ”

    WTF are you talking about? They tried to scuttle Heller,

  33. On November 29, 2010 at 7:39 pm, Lee said:

    I did not know that the NRA tried to scuttle Heller. However, I can understand why they did. The NRA always needs the boogie man out there to generate contributions. If they were to win every court case and have universal acceptance of the 2nd amendment, they are out of a job.

  34. On November 29, 2010 at 8:54 pm, The Olde Man said:

    You folks realize that if the Supreme Court had just gone one vote the other way, we’d be so far up the creek we’d be invisible. And you wonder why the NRA was reluctant to gamble?


    But then if you pure, like the GOA and others of that ilk, that thought would never occur. After all, you have the Constitution on your side and the Supreme Court would just naturally see it your way.


  35. On November 29, 2010 at 10:14 pm, Achilles said:

    Herschel, the short answer to your question is “yes.”

    The short reason for that answer is that the NRA is the only pro-RKBA organization with an effective presence on Capitol Hill. Yes, SAF has done a great job lately with the litigation and other activities, but only the NRA has the muscle to make a difference in DC. And yes, we do make a difference there. Imagine what our federal firearms laws would look like if NRA-ILA hadn’t been defending us in DC for the last 35 years. I’m a life member, and I don’t agree with everything the leadership does, either. But you can’t allow your desire for ideological purity to get in the way of defending core principles in a realistic way.

    While I’m at it, some other points:

    (1) The supposed “gag order” on NRA board members is a ridiculous net-legend;

    (2) The DISCLOSE act amendment demanded by the NRA undermined liberal support for the act and probably doomed it entirely;

    (3) “Strong reaction from the NRA membership” prevented an endorsement of Harry Reid. I’m not sure if the leadership really intended to endorse Reid. However, if member pressure prevented such an endorsement, that makes a good point about the organization, does it not?

    (4) We can’t allow RKBA to become entirely the province of one political party. By endorsing Dems who vote the right way on RKBA, we maintain it as a bipartisan issue, which keeps us strong in the long run. I hate the rest of the liberal agenda too, but there are other organizations we should rely on to channel that energy.

  36. On November 29, 2010 at 10:18 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    Interesting comments, all. For a quick review, I had expected what I mainly got, which was those who took the position that I should dump the NRA, contrasted with those who, despite the horrible positions taken sometimes, believe that the NRA does more good than not, with those same people calling for forbearance on my part.

    Very well. I understand both positions, and I am especially intrigued by Lina Inverse’ and Greg’s argument that by agreeing to watered down versions of these laws, the NRA has essentially become a gun control organization. Interesting. I’d like to see this fleshed out a little more.

    But as for the claim that I am angry due to misinformation (B. Roberts), that’s simply ridiculous. I know what I know, and the endorsement of Reid was stupid. As for the claim that I’m “just another Republican Party Girl?,” Raoul, you simply embarrass yourself, and if you’re not embarrassed, then that is all the more embarrassing for you.

    Be a reader and studier. Get to know my prose before you say something so stolid and dense. My regular readers know how I have taken direct aim at any number of things viz. the GOP. I shill for no one – you can just ask my readers.

    Finally, I am a bit surprised to find the last category, i.e., those who would actually defend LaPierre’s decision to endorse Reid and would also defend Reid’s record of support for the 2nd Amendment.

    Um, note to readers. Reid doesn’t support the 2nd amendment. This has nothing whatsoever to do with him being a socialist and statist (and he is indeed both). His being a socialist and statist is reason enough for me to heap disdain upon him, but not reason enough for the NRA to reject him. His lack of support for the Constitution is certainly reason enough to reject an endorsement.

    In fact, it’s so remarkably and profoundly ludicrous for the NRA to endorse Reid that the defense of such a thing here makes me doubt the legitimacy of commenters who defend LaPierre’s decision on the basis of Reid’s being a “defender of guns.” I don’t believe those commenters believe their own prose. It surely must embarrass them to defend Reid and LaPierre.

    Give me a break. Reid recalls with fondness his having shot his father’s .22 LR long gun. So do we all. Who can’t tell a story like that? What I care about is his having endorsed two SCOTUS justices who don’t believe in the Constitution. Enough said.

  37. On November 29, 2010 at 10:19 pm, Raoul said:

    Hey Ranten N. Raven;

    My bad, you’re right. I see Reid voted against the AWB amendment to the ’94 Crime Bill but voted for the final bill when it came to the floor.

    Point still stands. How many Republicans quit the Party in response to Bush endorsing the AWB and lobbying for a new one?

  38. On November 29, 2010 at 11:16 pm, Raoul said:


    The “party girl” question was intended as rhetorical. My idea of some snarky fun after consuming three shots of bourbon on my day off. It wasn’t intended as a personal insult toward you and I apologize if it read that way.

    I was thinking of the people who bash the NRA for supporting pro gun Dems over less pro or anti gun Repubs.

    I would have liked to see the NRA endorse Angle over Reid but think I understand why they remained neutral. For four years Reid has been majority leader of the most left wing Senate in history. We’ve had the most left wing House for four years and the most left wing Pres. for two. And no fedgov anti gun legislation.

    The NRA thinks Reid deserves some credit for that and would rather not see Chuckie Schumer as majority leader.

    There’s plenty wrong with the NRA but it’s really the only game in town.

  39. On November 29, 2010 at 11:18 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    And while we’re at it, I’ll take my baby any day over Reid’s rifle.

  40. On November 29, 2010 at 11:48 pm, Tim K said:

    The NRA is 100% pro-second amendment, and consider the alternative – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who doesn’t have one ounce of positive second amendment feelings within his entire body. The National Rifle Association is as strong as ever, and deserves our support.

  41. On November 30, 2010 at 4:02 am, Raoul said:

    A lot of Republican “conservative” heroes have been banging away on their keyboards slamming the NRA for its refusal to spend millions of members dollars opposing the “Disclosure Act”.

    Once the Disclosure Act was re-written to exclude the NRA from its provisions, it would have been irresponsible for the NRA to spend millions opposing a law which didn’t affect the NRA or its members.

    What was the Disclosure Act? A very watered down version of the McCain/Feingold “Campaign Finance Reform” Which SCOTUS found unconstitutional.

    The NRA vigorously opposed McCain/Feingold.

    How did we get the 1st Amendment eviscerating “Campaign Finance Reform” in the first place? I’m so glad you asked! It was co-sponsored by the “conservative” John McCain. Republicans were so upset by McCain for this they nominated him for Pres. in 2008!

    McCain/Feingold was passed by a Republican House, a Republican Senate and signed into law by G.W. Bush. Republicans were so “outraged” by Bush signing this unconstitutional law they re-nominated him for President and got him re-elected.

    After being screwed, blued and tattooed by phony. fraud, plastic banana “conservatives” like Bush, Rove, Cheney, Frist and Hastert, the NRA decided to sit out the fight over the “Disclosure Act” because it didn’t affect them. Good.

  42. On November 30, 2010 at 9:50 am, Lina Inverse said:

    Raoul: the special deal the NRA got for the DISCLOSE Act fits perfectly with Jerry Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy, a version of which I’ll quote here:

    […] in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people: those who work to further the actual goals of the organization, and those who work for the organization itself. Examples in education would be teachers who work and sacrifice to teach children, vs. union representative who work to protect any teacher including the most incompetent. The Iron Law states that in all cases, the second type of person will always gain control of the organization, and will always write the rules under which the organization functions.

    A deal which protected only big organizations (also the AARP and the Humane Society (I think that’s the anti-hunting one), organizations with more than 500,000 members) would have cut off at the knees all the state RKBA organizations. As of late, with the RKBA having become a Third Rail in D.C., that’s where almost all the nation’s RKBA action is, witness the nationwide sweep of “shall issue” concealed carry laws (latest being Iowa starting January 1st and with the local election results we expect Wisconsin will probably join pretty soon).

    It would of course have cemented the NRA’s position as the #1 “pro-gun” organization in the US and perhaps would have forced a number of state “affiliates” to become units of the NRA so that they’d in theory have a voice WRT anything Federal they’re interest in, like local politicians….

  43. On November 30, 2010 at 11:42 am, Lina Inverse said:

    Bartholomew Roberts: The NRA was fantastically stupid in the way they went about endorsing him. In an election season where the RKBA basically wasn’t on the table (or, rather, in WV advertisements of Joe Manchin shooting a copy of the cap and trade bill helped save his campaign for Senator) and out of control spending and earmarks were among the most important issues, the NRA gave their membership the appearance that their endorsement could be bought with a 61 million dollar earmark. That was unbelievably tone deaf and did serious damage to the organization, as witnessed by this blog posting by Mr. Smith, my father’s decision to stop sending them any extra money (he has a few years to decide on membership), their having to withhold the endorsement at the last moment, and the incredibly defensive posture they had to take after that membership magazine article on the earmark came out.

    Due to his past gun grabbing—he only felt the heat and saw the light in 2006, which you can confirm that for yourself by looking at his individual votes as counted by the GOA (but do your own scoring, please!): select the votes tab on this page and near the bottom select More Key Votes—even they couldn’t give him a rating higher than a B, while Angle had an A (not an AQ based on a questionnaire but a real A). Yes, with the Democrats retaining the Senate, which was the way to bet even before the RNC punted on their 72 Hour GOTV effort, we’d probably rather have him than Schumer or Durbin as the Senate Majority leader, but even then that’s debatable since he’s getting old and is not up for reelection for 6 years; no one should be surprised to see him return to his pre-2006 gun grabbing ways.

    As for the NRA’s board and the claimed gag order by one of the board members, your claim that they are “the boss” is completely at odds with the recent history of the NRA and the executive leadership’s gaining effectively complete control over the nominating and election process (i.e. any board member who violated it won’t be reelected). Not to mention the minor detail that a 76 member board is 10 times too big to exert any effective control over an organization’s executives (as is well covered by corporate governance study).

  44. On November 30, 2010 at 12:44 pm, Bartholomew Roberts said:

    Due to his past gun grabbing—he only felt the heat and saw the light in 2006, which you can confirm that for yourself by looking at his individual votes as counted by the GOA (but do your own scoring, please!)

    Actually, the three NO votes I highlighted above all happened in 2004. Reid started out bad on gun rights and has gradually improved over the years, though I suspect that is more due to the necessity of being reelected than any real belief on his part. However, let’s go with your characterization.

    We have Reid, in the last 4 years he has mostly pro-RKBA voting. He has a Democratic House and Senate – filibuster proof majority in the Senate even. Yet despite an excellent opportunity to pass more gun control, Reid not only does not shaft us, he continued to help gun bills get through the Senate.

    So is “endorsing” Reid clearly so stupid that it shouldn’t be a question at all or is there a point to having a friendly Senate Majority Leader given that the Senate is unlikely to change hands?

    your claim that they are “the boss” is completely at odds with the recent history of the NRA and the executive leadership’s gaining effectively complete control over the nominating and election process (i.e. any board member who violated it won’t be reelected).

    Anyone can be nominated to the ballot for Board of Directors with the signatures of 250 voting NRA members. That strikes me as less than complete control of the nomination process.

    The Board then selects 9 members to endorse 25-30 candidates and these candidates typically do the best in votes. If you’ve got an example of what you mean by “complete control over the nomination and election process,” I’m always interested in learning more about that; but from what I know right now, I’m not seeing that.

    All of which highlights yet another reason you shouldn’t quit the NRA if you are displeased with them – only voting members get to have a say in how the organization is run. If you don’t like the nominations or elections rules, you need to vote in Board members who will change them. If you don’t like the executive staff, you need to vote in Board members who will replace them.

    If you don’t take part in the process and don’t vote, then don’t be surprised when the Board doesn’t reflect your views of how the Second Amendment should be. Which is probably why prominent critics of the NRA like Jeff Knox (and his father before him) continue to be members of the NRA.

  45. On November 30, 2010 at 12:55 pm, Lina Inverse said:

    Mr Smith: to flesh out a little more the thesis that the NRA is and has always been America’s most effective gun control organization at the Federal level, here’s a bit off the top of my head in support of the allegation that every Federal gun control law prior to the “assault weapons” (AW) ban was supported by the NRA (and I’d ask that anyone who disagrees to please provide counterexamples that I will then respond to):

    NFA of 1933: The “compromise” for it was to not include handguns.

    GCA of 1968: Start with mikeSilver’s comment above, also note that Charlton Heston was a major supporter of it (although not at the time a prominent NRA member; he played off his cowboy movie cred). There’s lots more but I’m not too familiar with it since I joined the fight after reading about the BATF’s abuses based on it (when sugar price supports destroyed the market for moonshine, they obviously had to do something with all their out of work agents; Waco was a long term result of that and all this has done terrible damage to the Republic).

    GOPA of 1986: included a questionable voice vote provision outlawing the sale to civilians of machine guns made after it, capping the number in circulation to around 100,000. (Side note: from memory, the two times legally own machines guns were used in a crime, the perp was a police officer (this doesn’t count the recent needless tragedy in Massachusetts)). This set a very bad precedent that the Federal government could outlaw classes of weapons which was used 8 years later in the AW ban.

    “Armor Piercing” (AP) bullet ban: It protected hunting ammo, which the initial version of the bill banned, for almost all will penetrate normal police body armor; Teddy Kennedy made a big deal about how deadly the .30-30 classic deer hunting round was (it’s about 110% of a 7.62×39). But it was e.g. used to ban the import of inexpensive Chinese ammo with soft steel bullets (not particularly AP by intent, but fit the definition of the bill; ironically WWII AP M2 black tip .30-06 bullets available from demilled ammo are just fine). It’s also likely to cause heartache if the environmentalists achieve further gains in outlawing the use of ammo containing lead. Plus it established another bad precedent WRT what the RKBA is really about and along with the “plastic gun” ginned up controversy has helped establish a precedent that we civilians should’t get access to new developments (e.g. look at the ginned up controversy over FN’s 5.7mm guns).

    Brady Bill: This was done with the full support of the NRA (but not the RKBA community … some politicians have found out to their dismay that the NRA’s seal of approval does not always protect them when they vote anti-gun). They didn’t like the initial 3 day waiting period but the long term and now achieved Instant Check system was their major goal. Now that’s a debatable proposition, it does prevent a number of ugly headlines (but doesn’t prevent the media from claiming that anyone can go to a gun store and buy a (full auto) gun (e.g. see coverage of Obama’s pick for the head of the ATF)). It also has the following issues:

    It created a single point of failure for national retail gun sales in wherever in Pennsylvania that FBI center is located (Byrd type pork) … or if the government decides to simply shut them down. This has happened during routine maintenance in times past (although I guess from the lack of recent downtime they’ve got a proper High Availability system running now).

    It created a de facto national registry of gun owners; despite the laws etc. against that, the Feds have been caught playing games with it and continue to try to create official exceptions.

    It created the “gun show loophole” controversy, something McCain went so far as to cut ads for. In truth these laws are designed to put gun shows completely out of business through impossible restrictions and liability. They also create criminal conspiracy violations for innocent acts of visitors. This is very important since gun shows “are for us what churches are to religious conservatives. If they shut down gun shows, or make them entirely too legally burdensome to operate, they shut down a key locus of our ability to politically organize.

    It’s been the basis for calls by many including Rahm and Holder to place a ban on anyone who’s on one of the terror suspect lists (which amusingly would have included Teddy Kennedy).

    I think that will do for now.

  46. On November 30, 2010 at 12:59 pm, Raoul said:

    The NRA DID NOT endorse Harry Reid.

  47. On November 30, 2010 at 1:31 pm, Lina Inverse said:

    Bartholomew Roberts: Let me reemphasize what I said:

    effectively complete control over the nominating and election process”

    De facto, not de jure control in the combination of both parts of the process though their control of the nominating committee and the membership magazines. If the petition only process has produced any board election winners as of late, please inform us; I would not know because:

    I was a member for a long time (1975 or 6 to late ’90s) and voted; the final prod to not renew was after it became clear the Board election game was rigged, the Board has no effective control over the executives (see previous comment on corporate governance) and the passage of the by-law changes set this in concrete. In combination with the observation that they were America’s most effective gun control organization.

  48. On November 30, 2010 at 3:01 pm, Bartholomew Roberts said:

    NFA of 1933: The “compromise” for it was to not include handguns.

    As was already pointed out earlier, the NRA of 1934 bears about as much relation to the NRA of 2010 as the Democratic Party of 1934 does to the Democratic Party of 2010. It was a sport shooting organization, not a lobbying group.

    GCA of 1968

    Although the NRA did not affirmatively support the Gun Control Act of 1968, … the American firearms industry supported it for economic reasons. …” Don Kates, November 1983 Michigan Law Review, “Handgun Prohibition and the Original Meaning of the Second Amendment,”

    Hmmm, good point about the firearms industry not always having interests in line with its consumers. It would be nice if there were a strong organization out there to bridge that gap and give the consumers a voice, eh?

    FOPA of 1986

    You mean the bill that repealed larged chunks of the 1968 Gun Control Act? The bill was only the second bill to ever be passed into law through a discharge petition against the wishes of the House leadership?

    included a questionable voice vote provision outlawing the sale to civilians of machine guns made after it

    You mean the same provision that NRA lawyer Stephen Halbrook unsuccessfully challenged in the case of Farmer v. Sykes? The one where the NRA filed the lawsuit almost as soon as the bill became law?

    “Armor Piercing” (AP) bullet ban:

    Guncite has a good discussion of that bill and how the NRA prevented the ban of almost all centerfire firearm ammunition by its intervention.

    Brady Bill: This was done with the full support of the NRA

    The Second Amendment Foundation has a link to an excellent history of the Brady Bill. Unfortunately, it disagrees with the version you present. This version notes that the NRA pulled out all the stops to defeat the bill. In fact, the “Instant Check” compromise was defeated in a 54-44 vote. Rather than being a negative, it speaks to the power of the NRA that they got their defeated amendment accepted even after the seven day waiting period (not three days as you suggested) was already approved by that 54-44 vote. And despite this, the NRA continued to fight the Brady Bill… from the same article discussing a minor procedural point in the history during the Conference Report: “even this seemingly ministerial act was delayed in a final, desperate effort on the part of NRA backers to defeat the Brady Bill.”

  49. On November 30, 2010 at 3:15 pm, Bartholomew Roberts said:

    If the petition only process has produced any board election winners as of late, please inform us; I would not know because:

    I was a member for a long time (1975 or 6 to late ’90s) and voted; the final prod to not renew was after it became clear the Board election game was rigged, the Board has no effective control over the executives (see previous comment on corporate governance) and the passage of the by-law changes set this in concrete.

    In 1975 when you joined, the President appointed the nominating committee and you could not be nominated without his approval. Talk about no effective control over the executive. This changed with the 1977 revolution and for the first time seven petition-only candidates were elected to the board. Source. Most recently, in 2010, Pete Brownell was elected by both NRA Board nomination and Petition Nomination.

  50. On November 30, 2010 at 3:44 pm, Bartholomew Roberts said:

    Hmmm, it appears my comments are disappearing. Herschel, if you didn’t want debate, you should have said so outright and I wouldn’t have wasted my time or yours.

    HPS Responds: Spam Karma II. It was automatic, especially for posts with multiple links in them. I should probably do some tweaking, but I haven’t been deleting your comments. As for debating, that has primarily been with others, not me. I will respond when I get some time tonight. But I think you’ve made your point though.

  51. On November 30, 2010 at 9:03 pm, Jim McNally said:

    I questioned the NRA on the allegations, prior to the election, about Reid, etc., and other issues receiving media attention. As a Benefactor Member, I wanted answers. The gun banners would like nothing better than to sow dissent among us. If you believe we need to make changes within the NRA, it can only be done if you are a member. There is an old saying that is particularly important in politics. “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good”. NRA, as well as other gun rights organizations, need more members now, not less.

  52. On November 30, 2010 at 11:47 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    I appreciate all of the comments. I’m still undecided. Bartholomew, I must confess, you puzzle me. I’m still not sure that you believe what you say.

    Listen. I get the whole argument that the NRA does more good than bad. This might be a persuading argument. But your defense of Reid and LaPierre’s kind words to him sounds to me like …

    Well, read Matt 15:27. You’re stuck in majoring on the minors and all but forgetting about the majors. You are wandering around in the weeds of what specific thing was said about some rather insignificant piece of legislation (that can be repealed later or even found unconstitutional).

    But I’m no dog waiting to feed on crumbs that fall from the master’s table. Reid gave us two SCOTUS justices who don’t believe in the constitution. There is nothing else. There is nothing that can undo such a travesty. No crumbs that fall from his table can make this okay. There is nothing he can do. It is profoundly bad form to make it okay for Reid to do this and then give him the support he needs to be reelected. It says that the NRA is satisfied with crumbs.

    I’m not. And neither should you be.

  53. On December 1, 2010 at 1:52 am, Raoul said:

    “Reid gave us two SCOTUS justices who don’t believe in the Constitution”.

    Nope. Obama and the Dem Senate did. If Reid had dropped dead a month before Sotomayor was nominated what difference would it have made?

    Again, NRA did not endorse Reid. They graded Angle an “A” and Reid a “B” in the magazines and mailers.

    The only person who really cares whether you re-up with the NRA is you. Because four million Americans realize that warts and all the NRA is the reason we aren’t already disarmed or voting from the roof tops.

    Last question/comment;

    George W. Bush endorsed and praised the Clinton/Feinstein gun ban. He spent four years trying to get it passed again after the ten year sunset.

    Why didn’t you and others on this thread quit the NRA when (unlike Reid) they endorsed Bush in 2004?

  54. On December 1, 2010 at 7:08 am, schizuki said:

    I’ve got a suspicion this is a Baby Boomer thing. Baby Boomers tend to want 100% of what they seek and won’t tolerate getting anything less. Other generations tend to accept that the perfect is the enemy of the good and that no organization can ever make 100% of its members perfectly happy since every member has a different opinion.

    Just a wacky pet theory.

  55. On December 1, 2010 at 9:16 am, Herschel Smith said:

    And your pet theory would be wrong.

    Look. This isn’t hard to understand. The NRA should be rewarding good behavior and punishing bad. There. How was that?

  56. On December 1, 2010 at 9:54 am, Warbucks said:

    Many years ago I invested in a lifetime membership with the NRA. It seems like a good investment these many years later. I shutter to think what life in the US could quickly become if it was ever forced to liquidate and desist.

  57. On December 1, 2010 at 9:30 pm, Herschel Smith said:


    You are becoming a tiresome troll. I didn’t say that the NRA endorsed Reid. I said that LaPierre did.

    Next, your logic is fallacious and absurd. By your logic, since one man is only one vote in the Senate, we can never hold anyone accountable for anything he says or does since it is the “dem senate” that did something, or the president who did it. Nevermind that we vote on senators based on their own voting record, and nevermind that we have never heard that defense (“pitiful me, I was only one person when I cast that stupid vote …”) during the election cycle. And finally, nevermind that Reid is in the leadership of that “dem senate.”

    Really dude. Listen, stay up, argue coherently and logically and stop being a troll.

  58. On December 2, 2010 at 7:25 pm, Raoul said:

    Seems you take all I say in the worst possible light. I’m not the slightest bit interested in defending Reid. I’m defending the NRA.

    I think you and a lot of other folks had a king sized over-reaction to Wayne saying a few good things about Reid. Especially since the NRA refused to endorse him and gave his opponent a higher grade.

    I pointed out the the NRA has both endorsed and funded Republicans with RKBA records no better, or worse than Reid’s. The NRA didn’t endorse Bush in ’04 because he deserved it, but because he was preferable to Kerry.

    I’m guessing La Pierre considered Reid preferable to Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

    I understand members being upset in both instances or neither.

    I don’t see the logic or coherence in being royally pissed about one and nonchalant about the other.

  59. On December 3, 2010 at 1:06 am, Herschel Smith said:

    Raoul, I am taking what you say the way you intend. I know you are defending the NRA. I didn’t ask for folks to defend the NRA. What I said I expected was good analysis of what they do well v. what they screw up. You have become an apparatchik for the NRA. That’s not good. You need to re-evaluate your own position.

    It doesn’t matter who the majority leader in the Senate is. What matters is that the NRA isn’t seen as grovelling for crumbs that fall from the master’s table. The NRA is the most powerful lobby in America. It’s about time it acts like it instead of being lackeys.

    Now. According to your own words, you’re put out with me that I didn’t gripe about NRA’s endorsement of Bush, a point in time when I wasn’t even blogging.



  60. On December 7, 2010 at 4:41 pm, Gaston said:

    It is interesting to see how comments have digressed from your original question, “Should you renew your membership?” In a single word, NO.

    Think of how much less junk mail you’ll get. Its unfortunate that the NRA is so smug that they will not notice your departure except to send you even more pleadings. $ 35 could be spent so much better. For example, on a roll of stamps to write your Congressmen, or if you order $30 or more from the Cato Institute you get free shipping. I feel that even a Donation to Mr. Pournelle’s website would do more for you. It will take a couple of thousand members to stop renewing in order to make a difference, any difference.

  61. On January 11, 2022 at 2:15 pm, Frank said:

    It’s funny to read this 12 years later. While the writing on the wall was crystal clear in 2010, many chose to ignore it. And now the NRA is basically powerless. At the Dallas Safari Club show last weekend, there were more folks at the Fish and Wildlife booth than at the NRA booth.

    If everyone had had the sense to join 2AF or GOA in 2010 (rather than NRA), the NRA might have gotten back on track rather than completely (and I fear permanently) derailed.

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