Most people think of the National Rifle Association as a lobbying group - an organization that exists to get government to make laws supporting their position. It didn't start out that way. During the U. S. "Civil War", a few of the military leaders involved were disappointed with the poor marksmanship of many of the new recruits. So they created an organization to promote marksmanship by organizing, supervising and overseeing shooting competitions, and that was the NRA. They still do this, and of course I have no problem with this part of their purpose. Unfortunately they are more than that now, you don't get a choice of whether or not to support their politics. If you want to participate in any of their sponsored competitions, you have to join ... and of course I don't believe in that kind of coercion. (Side note - I'll have to log back in with Opera 10.20 so I can check my spelling there, they don't have the spell checker working in 10.50 yet.)
Anyway, over the years they have had to get involved politically. You can't exactly have marksmanship training if they ban firearms, can you? In that sense, their politics is actually too moderate for me. I'm an idealist, I believe people (and laws) should say what they mean, and mean what they say. We live in an imperfect world, I can accept that, but I can't accept any form of dishonesty.
The second amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads as follows:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
When you think about it, it is really hard to believe how much arguing has been done over commas and capitalization of that particular passage. It really looks pretty clear to me - and as I say, laws should say what they mean and mean what they say - if you disagree with either the intent or implementation then you should work to change it.
That's where the people trying to regulate guns are dishonest, there has never been any attempt to modify the second amendment. According to what it says, all the laws on the books which regulate the ability of normal people to own firearms are unconstitutional and thus not valid. Do we need such laws? Maybe, no one has ever tried to justify them sufficiently to get the Constitution changed.
So as I say, I think the NRA is too moderate. They should challenge the constitutionality of these illegal laws, and they don't. But while I'm an idealist when it comes to "should", I will concede to reality where necessary. They don't have the resources to launch 20,000 court cases tomorrow, they have to work with what they have. But on the other hand, they should never claim to support a "compromise". Acceptance and support are not the same thing, you may have to accept a compromise - at least temporarily, while working for a better result.
Though really, that's neither here nor there. There are other "pro-gun" groups out there - if you're not on this side of the issue you have probably never heard of any of them. The NRA is the "800 pound gorilla", you either play ball with them or you go home. Yes, monopolies are terrible things, but reality is reality.
Some 15-20 years ago now, "I'm the NRA" was their ad slogan. They had various spokespeople - some celebrities, but also soldiers and cops and even housewives saying why they supported the NRA. And while it might not be correct to say I supported them myself, I accepted that I had to deal with them. But I haven't been a member in years ...
Actually, it all happened because I was out of work at the time when I was supposed to renew my membership. When I didn't renew (because I didn't have the money), they of course sent me a reminder. When I still didn't renew, they sent me one of those "last chance" notices, and that's what really did it.
This particular "last chance" notice was a letter that claimed to be from NRA Executive Vice President Wayne Lapierre (though of course it was probably from their ad agency, still they must have been authorized to use his name) and contained a little index card with my name and renewal options. The problem is, the letter claimed it was actually my card from their membership files and obviously it wasn't. Okay, a cheap gimmick, right? Sorry, I don't accept "cheap gimmicks". To me it was an insult to my intelligence, and worse than that it was simply dishonest.
Yeah, worse. In this society everyone insults everyone for anything, while I certainly wouldn't appreciate an insult from someone who was supposed to be representing me (which is to say, working for me), I could tolerate it. But I can't tolerate someone who claims to be "working for me" who is dishonest with me. Yeah, I have no real tolerance for politicians - who does - but you have no real choice in regards to them. You will be represented by some politician or other, you try to get the best you can but that's your only choice. I do have another choice when it comes to the NRA, I can refuse to take part.
Is 12 years or so too long to hold onto this sort of thing? Yes and no. You see, Executive Vice President is not an elected position. While the other officers come and go, even the NRA President has changed several times over that span - but not Wayne Lapierre. If he were no longer in office, I might give them a chance. But as far as I'm concerned, Wayne has proven to me that I can't trust him, even about something as small as a supposed file card - as long as he remains in office they won't get anything from me.
So now you're asking what brought this up after all this time. Actually, for insurance reasons my local club decided to become NRA affiliated. It's a sound financial decision, I can't fault them for that, but it looks like I'm going to have to go elsewhere for a safe place to shoot.