You know, I really hate going over old ground. The third post I ever made to this blog, back in December 2004, was why I support the National Rifle Association even though it is not the strongest Second Amendment champion out there. I'll rephrase now for clarity. It is the only pro-Second Amendment organization that the gun banners fear and loathe and that's enough for me.
This week, Kim DuToit mentioned again why he doesn't join the NRA. His commenters chimed in. A few even said they would not join or they would quit because one of the NRA's board members disparaged civilian ownership of "assault weapons."
Since then, Sebastian and Ahab both have vocally supported the NRA. Sebastian later asked for ideas to improve the NRA. Their posts are worth your time.
I really hate this internal sniping at each other. The NRA is and should be a "big tent" organization. It should include hunters, Cowboy Action Shooters, bullseye shooters, and black rifle aficionados. By providing a home for all of these types of shooters, it provides them a voice that is much stronger than it would be otherwise.
Look at Gunowners of America. They are a "no compromise" group and that's great. We need them. But, they have no political clout. The NRA and the AARP have the loudest voices in American politics today. Do gunnies who decry the NRA want to give up that clout and that voice?
Being a "big tent" organization means that the NRA cannot please everyone all the time. NRA leaders also know that politics is the art of compromise. Thus, they may make a political decisions to support something or not support something for political reasons.
Let's take a look at the Gun Control Act of 1968. It was going to pass no matter what. The political assassinations of the 1960s, the arming up of radical groups (Weathermen Underground, Black Panthers, etc.) scared liberals and conservatives alike. The NRA helped protect gun owners rights by being at the table to help craft compromises. I believe that we would have lost a lot more in 1968 if the NRA had simply yelled "no compromise" and refused to take a seat at the table.
This argument does not do much for the blood pressure of those gunnies who quote "...shall not be infringed." They argue that every gun law, or at least most of them, are unconstitutional. You know something, they're probably right. Many gun laws have no basis in the Constitution or the Second Amendment.
No matter how true this is, the United States has always had some sort of gun laws. In the 18th Century, slaves could not own guns. Most white landowners were required to own a non-rifled musket (useless for hunting) and show up at militia practice. In the 19th Century there were laws against concealed carry, and even possessing a gun in some Western towns if you were a stranger.
We have gun laws now. Way too many of them. Many are unconstitutional, but asserting that loudly gets you no where except maybe jail (depending on your actions). The laws must be repealed and new laws must be stopped in their tracks. The only way to do that is through politics. The NRA is the best positioned lobby we have to fight for gun rights. Also, don't forget that anti-gunnies have a voice and they use it.
The courts do not offer us much either. They are the ones who basically decide what is Consitutional. We all know that courts are not really on our side. Even if we win a sweeping Supreme Court victory we will still have some gun laws. Any decision they hand down will include words like, "subject to reasonable regulation." Congress and state lawmakers will decide what is reasonable.
I am as strong a believer in the Second Amendment as anyone out there. I give money to pro-gun groups every two-weeks in payroll deductions. I buy a lot of guns and a lot of ammo. I run this blog. I vote and I write letters and make calls to Congresscritters. I know the NRA has done stupid things in the past and will do so in the future. I know they're not perfect, but their collective voice has helped be retain my gun rights through too many attempts at stripping them from me.
I urge people to join the NRA and vote in board members that support your idea of the Second Amendment or your favorite shooting sport. If you don't, then you have no voice in the one pro-rights organization that Congress and state legislatures actually hear.