Gun rights, free speech, and replacing the NRA

In my note a couple of days ago about the DISCLOSE Act (among other things), I suggested that the NRA's betrayal of the First Amendment, despite their organization's focus on the Second Amendment, is absolutely unacceptable and I will not renew my membership.

I received the following comment from a reader of these pages whom I like and respect very much:

The view from us “true believers” is that they simply flexed their muscles to ridicule the left knowing full well that the issue would die in the Senate, and that their “presence” would assure that both sides of the aisle would now see the folly of McCain/Feingold type legislation. The irony is that they were one of the main targets for the former and the monkey wrench in the latter. Resign or stay, personal freedom is after all the crux of the issue, but rest assured should you chose to not renew I will donate the amount of your annual membership fee for perpetuity in the name of the flag you fly outside your house.

As I implied above, this reader is a thoughtful and intelligent guy, but I absolutely disagree with the theory and the logic of the above paragraph.

The idea that the NRA negotiated their own free speech while sacrificing that of so many others because they wanted to show how bad the legislation is simply doesn't pass the giggle test.  It's a too-convenient excuse for truly inexcusable behavior.  If they wanted to do that, they should have gotten to the point of agreement to have that carve-out for themselves but then DISCLOSEd the agreement while telling Congress they don't want or accept it in the legislation.

As for the reader's statement that he would contribute to the NRA an amount to make up for what losing me will cost them, my response was as follows:

I would consider it quite an insult if you were to donate to the NRA to make up for what they will lose by not having me.

How about if you quit an organization because you specifically didn't support what they do because you found out that in addition to opposing progressive candidates (which you were glad they did), they supported anti-Semitic "white supremacist" candidates (which I presume you wouldn't support)?  How would you feel if I then gave them money to make up for what you didn't give them?

I understand your initial reaction, but it's wrong-headed.

I would add that I expect a LOT of people to react to the NRA's actions the way I did so anybody who takes up this reader's position will be spending a lot of money.

The reader also asked this relevant question: "Just curious, having tended your NRA resignation in print, who do you propose takes up the banner in defense of the Second Amendment for you?"

I do have an answer for that: Gun Owners of America, which can be found at

Indeed, immediately upon reading the note from my reader trying to push me to stay with the NRA, I went to the GOA web site and became a member.  Now I can refuse to renew my NRA membership without getting out of the long-running fight to maintain our Second Amendment rights.  Unlike Wayne LaPierre, I'm not willing to sacrifice my First Amendment rights to do so.

The NRA reminds me of a guy who has damage to some bricks on one wall of his house and decides to fix them by removing some bricks from elsewhere in the house, perhaps in an even more critical spot, leaving the whole house at greater risk of collapse.  Their actions related to the DISCLOSE Act (which I still think won't become law) are unconscionable and unacceptable.

I urge all NRA members to do their own homework on GOA and, if you like what they do, switch to GOA from NRA as I did.

  • T.L. Davis
    Comment from: T.L. Davis
    06/27/10 @ 12:14:40 pm

    I completely agree with your position. The only thing that has made progress for the Second Amendment is the ability of the NRA to spread its word. Remove one and you lose the other. I also encourage everyone disappointed with this act to check out the GOA.

  • Rob Mardis
    Comment from: Rob Mardis
    06/27/10 @ 06:55:26 pm

    Well, the more I've read on this whole thing, the worse the NRA looks and I'm not happy at all. Gun Talk Radio host, Tom Greshin fielded several calls about this topic this weekend and he was less than thrilled with his interview with Pierre last week. So I'm torn. I'll check out the GOA like you suggested. I HATE the idea of the NRA carving out something for themselves in legislation that clearly would not pass without their consent. Not principled. Not good. Reminds me of the ham-fisted decisions the national GOP makes as they try to play the Washington game and misread the great conservative masses out here .