Comments: Chris Cox NRA Speech

-I've been reading your blog (is it considered a site now) for several months, enjoy it thoroughly, and it's become a routine. I've never commented here before, but we did have a minor ammo debate over at Annika's.
-I have a bit of a dilemma. I've never been a member of a large scale gun club and I'm considering joining the only 200m rifle range in the county. I'd like to compete in some military style rifle matches, most of which seem to be sanctioned by the NRA, and a NRA membership is requisite to joining the club. I fear joining the NRA would be viewed as an endorsement of their current and historic policy of 'reasonable gun-control', yet my marksmanship could benefit greatly. Unfortunately, I think a GOA membership will not suffice, and how I loathe choosing the seemingly lesser evil of marksmanship over philosophical conflicts.
-I'd heavily weight any advice you submit. As I'll likely join, can you think of a few ways to offset any negative impact I might create.

Posted by Jasen at April 23, 2004 06:46 PM


It sounded from the above that you were asking Publicola for advice. Hopefully, he'll give it, but I'm going to chime in with my perspective.

I have allowed my NRA membership to lapse, largely for financial reasons. I joined only because I like their magazine. $25 (the introductory rate when I joined) was a bit high for a subscription, but not too bad. $35 (the renewal rate) is too much.

There IS another way to think about it that you might feel better about. Think of the NRA as an educational organization whose purpose is to teach gun safety and use. Thought about that way, the $35 is money well spent. They do a good job in that department.

Posted by Bill St. Clair at April 24, 2004 04:27 AM


The NRA offers ranges a deal on insurance with the caveat that all members of the range must be NRA members as well. So GOA membership won't help.

It's just one of those crappy decisions we sometimes have to make - joing the NRA so you can shoot at the range or not join the NRA & look for another range.

I'd advise looking for another range & depending on where you are you might have other options as well (i.e. public land) but if you decide to join cause the range is more convenient than any alternatives I'd recommened spending as much if not more in membership to actual pro-gun orgs like GOA, JPFO & any state group that claims a no compromise approach. The NRA will hound you for cash cause the NRA is split in two legally - you have the NRa & the NRA-ILA. NRA member dues can't be used for NRA-ILA so the NRA-ILA hits you up frequently for donations. What the NRA-ILA does use is the membership roles to solicit donations as well as tout that they represent X million gun owners.

So my advice is to look around a bit more. I'll be glad to help you in any way I can, but if you decide to join the NRA just pay your membership dues & not a penny more. When they hit you up for cash explain to them that until they stop rolling over on you for the sake of political expediency they won't get a dime.

& the matches you speak of - I assume it's High Power Rifle? You have to have an NRA membership to compete seriously (i.e. awards, moving to championships, etc...) but I've shot quite a few matches w/o being an NRA member. I'm sure I'd get bumped for an NRA member if space was an issue but unfortunately that hasn't happened yet. (I say unfortunately cause it'd be no small consolation that a real large turn out for a shooting sport happened - it's all about getting people to learn how to shoot & then to practice.)

But feel free to e-mail me or comment further here if I can help in any way.

(BTW, Mr. St. Clair is correct - as an educational & sports shooting org the NRA is great. If they'd just stop selling gun owners down the river politically I'd be a member myself.)

Posted by Publicola at April 24, 2004 02:23 PM

-Thanks, but I couldn't ask someone else to research the club scene in my neck-of-the-woods, thats my job. Your take on joining the NRA coincides closely with mine, that's fundamentally why I haven't joined yet. It's unfortunate they have as much influence on the ranges; I didn't know about the insurance deals.
-I've always been relatively competent with optical sights, but recently I've been trying to improve with the aperture/post configuration. It's pretty difficult at extended ranges.
Thanks Again,

Posted by Jasen at April 24, 2004 07:54 PM

I'll probably regret asking this, but what is the problem with the NRA?

Sure, they're not a "no compromise" group like GOA, but we are talking about Washington DC here-- if you don't compromise a little, you don't get any of what you want. The NRA is willing to settle for some of the pie, while groups like the GOA make desperate lunges for the whole pie, and end up without crumbs-- that's why I let my GOA membership lapse.

They don't advocate for the immediate repeal of all firearms laws, mainly because there's no way it will ever happen. And if the NRA took up that position, they'd end up as marginalized as the GOA is, and then there'd be nothing standing in the way of future laws but a ragtag group of organizations boasting of how well they lose on principle.

Like it or not, the NRA is your standard bearer as well as mine. They have more members, more money and more juice than any other organization out there. By weakening them, you're hurting all of us.

And why? Because they won't waste money to take a case they have no chance of winning before the supreme court? Because they killed the Protection of Lawful Commerce act to prevent the Clinton "Assault weapons" ban from being renewed? Because they endorse G.W. Bush's imperfect gun rights record over John Kerry's gun-grab record?

There's a fine line between being a hard-liner and being hard-headed. Maybe you're willing to back a losing horse so you can reserve the right to say "I told you so!" to Wayne LaPierre, but I'm not. I'd rather take what I can get, when I can get it and hope to fight another day.

"Selling us down the river." Pfui! They're too busy trying to keep the boat from leaking to sell us down the river. Meanwhile, "hard liner, no compromise" groups want to drill holes in the boat to let the water out.

Posted by greg at April 26, 2004 12:08 PM

-The problem with the NRA stems from the fact that they had the whole pie, minus the slice taken out by the firearms act in 1934, and they gave it away. I'm relatively certain that most of the firearms restricting federal legislation has passed with the NRA's tacit approval, or implicit approval in the instance of the '68 infringements.
-The NRA gave away the farm, developed and tilled with the forethought and sweat of our grandfathers. They swindled it all away, compromising until it was lost, save 10 barren acres, a mule and a worn-out holstein. Now, while the wolves are circling the mule, they claim their too busy trying to milk the the old cow to tend what's left of the farm. So you can stand there with your cup, waiting for what they may squeeze from the teat, but some people choose to focus on the reacquisition of the farm. These people are entitled as free men to persue their birthright.
-Your're correct the NRA does have more members, money and juice than anyother organization. There an 800 pound gorrila with the dispostion of a whipped french poodle.
-There does, however, come a time to dispatch the wolves, mortgage what you have left, buy back the farm and start pullin' wire to fix the fences.
But who am I to talk, being just as lethargic as the next guy.

Posted by Jasen at April 26, 2004 06:27 PM

"if you don't compromise a little, you don't get any of what you want. The NRA is willing to settle for some of the pie, while groups like the GOA make desperate lunges for the whole pie, and end up without crumbs-- that's why I let my GOA membership lapse."

What a great thing our founding fathers had a lot more spine than Greg . . . they wanted the whole pie. They fought for it, some died . . . the rest won the pie, and our freedom. Can we keep what's left? Unless the Greg's of the country wake up, I doubt it. . . .


Posted by Phil at April 26, 2004 07:35 PM


I'll get back to you more in depth in the next few days. In the meantime the only thing I can add to what Jasen & Phil said is that there is a big difference between compromising for startegic reasons & compromising for other reasons. The NRA's compromises have gained us nothing while they've lost us much. Compromises are great when you gain something from them - but they suck when you walk away from the table with less than what you had before.

Now if you agree with a certain level of gun control (as I believe you do) then the compromises the NRA makes might not seem like that big of a deal. But to me any prior restraint based law is a bad policy for any government to have. Taking a hrad line approach might not get us immediete repeal of all gun laws, but it would be more effective than taking a "some gun control is okay" approach.

Here's a thought to mull over whilst I try to find the time to elaborate on it in a post:

Say I want 0 gun control laws & the opposition wants 10. A compromise would mean 5 gun control laws right? Well let's say the NRA wants 3 gun control laws while the opposition wants 10. How many gun control laws would you get in a compromise? That's where the absolutists such as myself are more of a help than the gun control accepting NRA: they start off from a position closer to gun prohibition therefore they don't have as far to slip until that happens, whereas an absolutist has to be drug the entire way.

But like I said, I'll post more on this in the next few days.

Posted by Publicola at April 27, 2004 02:27 AM

Nice talk...

I've been watching my gun rights go steadily south for nearly 60 years. Personally I'm sick of it.

No more compromise. No more "that's how they do it in Washington". No more of the NRA playing the political game. Either we are free to own weapons or we are slaves...period.

I want to see reversals of gun laws written by and supported by traitors to the constitution. Enough is enough.

Posted by bjbarron at April 28, 2004 01:27 PM

Keep fighting, Publicola. I'm kind of on the fence about the NRA, and I haven't decided whether to renew next month. Still, whether I do or not, I'd never buy the bullshit argument that the NRA should be forgiven because they "have to compromise to get along."

I may ultimately decide to renew, because I think they do some very good work, and I'd like to be an NRA instructor. But if gun owners ever get as complacent about their rights as some here are sounding, then the battle will have been lost.

Posted by Spoons at April 28, 2004 07:12 PM

A little bit of history, to temper your discussion. GCA '68 was the last Jim Crow law, pure and simple. If you weren't around then, you need to do some reading of old newspapers. It was a reaction to the assassination of Rev. King and Bobby Kennedy,certainly; but it had no legs until the ghettoes started burning. Suddenly, the Southern Democrats who opposed the bill, jumped on board.

As to the NRA, it did not become political until the mid '70's with Harlan Carter. It took 10 years for a target shooting organization to get motivated, and back then, Neal Knox was the big cheese.


Posted by David Brown at April 30, 2004 11:08 AM
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