The other day, I received an interesting piece of mail that I had not seen in a long time: a membership “acceptance” solicitation form from the National Rifle Association. Being the proud gun owner and enthusiast that I am, you might expect me to either already be an NRA member or one who is chomping at the bit to accept NRA’s offer to give me a $10 discount on a one year membership and a free duffle bag (let’s not point out the obvious fact that the duffle bag ain’t really free if I have to pay a $25 membership fee to get it…minor point…TANSTAAFL). Not so much.
I was an NRA member at one time, but I became disillusioned with them in the mid ‘90s and let my membership lapse. Thus, my dilemma. Do I let bygones be bygones and “renew” my membership during turbulent times when the president is on record in favor of greater gun control measures, or do I stand on principle and tell the NRA to go pound sand?
Let’s examine, for a moment, the seeds of my disaffection with the NRA.
First and foremost, there is the head honcho at the NRA, Wayne LaPierre. If this guy would spend more time shooting guns and less time shooting his mouth off, I might have a more favorable opinion of the NRA. I am hopeful that my readers recall that Mr. LaPierre was the source of the quote calling members of the ATF “jackbooted thugs” in the wake of the fiascos at Ruby Ridge and Waco. This is the same quote that led former president George H.W. Bush to resign his lifetime NRA membership. Mr. LaPierre’s comments were, in my opinion, patently unfair to the men and women serving in the ATF during a difficult time. Could things have gone better in the Ruby Ridge and Waco incidents? Of course. Was it the “jackbooted thugs” on the ground who were solely or even mostly responsible for those incidents? Not likely. Is Mr. LaPierre right to use such inflammatory rhetoric as a scare tactic to raise more money and increase membership? Definitely not.
That brings up my second point of distaste for the NRA: the rhetoric. As I’ve mentioned before, I despise rhetoric. In my opinion, it gets in the way of genuine debate and discussion. Here is a sample from Mr. LaPierre’s latest missive aimed at scaring me into accepting membership with the NRA:
Gun-ban politicians like U.S. House leader Nancy Pelosi and Senators Charles Schumer and Dianne Feinstein stand ready to fight for an anti-gun agenda that will BAN hundreds of commonly owned firearms, MANDATE gun owner licensing and registration, CLOSE gun shops and shows and SEND YOU TO PRISON if a criminal steals your guns and commits a crime.
EEEeekKKKKkk!!! I’m scared now…where do I sign up? Puh-leeze. Does he really think I’m that stupid? There’s no need to insult my intelligence. I know how dangerous the current administration is. I keep tabs on news related to topics that affect me. Why can’t we skip the rhetoric and simply state what the organization stands for and why? Try this instead: “Hi, we’re the NRA. We are a grass roots organization dedicated to supporting your right to lawfully own firearms for sport and self defense. We hope you, as an avid gun owner and shooter, will join us and support our common interests.”
No fear mongering. No rhetoric. No name calling. Just plain, simple and straightforward. I’d be a whole lot more likely to support an organization that approached me that way.
Another thing related to that which really turned me off years ago was that the pleas for money using inflammatory rhetoric never stopped even after you became a member. It was almost like they were saying “Aha! We have him on the hook now. Let’s drain his bank account.” It seemed like every week there was another scare letter in my mailbox attempting to drum up more money to “fight for my rights”. I was always left wondering how much money they spent sending out mailers every week begging me to send them more money so they could send out more mailers next week. It just seemed like bad stewardship to me. Still does too.
Don’t get me started on the whole subject of special interest groups and purchasing influence with the almighty dollar. One word: WRONG. I’ll leave it at that for now.
So now, we have a very liberal Congress coupled with a very liberal president barely balanced out by a conservative leaning, moderate Supreme Court. Now we actually have real threats to our right to own guns, and the NRA sounds to me like the boy who cried wolf too many times.
Sigh. What to do?