This is an article I never anticipated writing and am sorry that I feel compelled to do so. I feel it is time for Americans to restrict their financial interaction with the National Rifle Association, (NRA). Starting with the 1977 “Cincinnati Revolution” the NRA has evolved from an organization that promoted firearms related sports and firearms safety to an industry lobbyist for firearms and ammunition manufacturers. If they want to advocate for and train sportsmen then Americans should support them. If they want to be lobbyists then their clients should finance them. The interests of the two groups are not always mutual.
The NRA of my youth was an organization that was of great service to America. It promoted hunting, marksmanship and gun safety. Whether Americans were shooter or not they benefited from the NRA’s actions. I have long held that I would rather my neighbor kill a deer, (in accordance with conservation laws); with his firearm than my wife do it with her van full of our grandchildren. Our entire society, shooters and non-shooters alike, benefit from the safe and accurate operation of firearms. Today these activities are secondary in the NRA’s decision making process. Their lobbying arm, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA), is the engine that drives the train.
Never has this been more apparent than during our current national conversation about gun regulations. The NRA steadfastly opposes any gun regulation – period. The general public, including its membership, overwhelmingly supports measures like a mandatory background check for purchasing a weapon and a limit on ammunition clip capacity. The NRA’s suggestion to help curb mass shootings has simply been more guns. That is the position you would expect an industry advocate to take. More guns equal more gun and ammunition sales. If the NRA is no longer willing to represent the views of the vast majority of its members why should its members support it financially?
No single gun regulation, or set of regulations for that matter, is going to solve the problem of the irresponsible and deadly use of firearms in America. However out of recent tragedies has come the opportunity for Americans to unite and take positive steps to lessen the frequency and severity of future incidents. The NRA could be an important part of that solution but it has chosen to ignore the opportunity and effectively has abdicated its seat at the table for the present.
It is a simple fact of American political life that many members of Congress fear and are intimidated by the NRA. While the strength of the NRA’s influence varies from state to state and certainly from one Congressional district to another, it is very real. Meaningful gun regulation legislation is going to be difficult to get through the Congress. Can you imagine how much easier it would be if only the NRA was willing to represent the interests of its rank and file membership instead of its corporate benefactors? In other words be part of the solution, not the problem.
It is with regret not joy that I place an institution that served this nation well from its inception in 1871 through my youth in the Rated R section. Alas, today that organization exists in name only. I look forward to a day that I can remove the NRA from this classification; a day when the interests of American citizens, shooters and non-shooters alike, will again be served by it.
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