When New York Attorney General Letitia James aimed her legal fire at the National Rifle Association and its leadership, seeking to dissolve the 150-year old organization over alleged financial misdeeds by top officials, there was much rejoicing among gun control advocates. If the NRA were to disappear or be weakened, anti-gun activists believed that support for the Second Amendment would crater and Congress could finally embrace gun bans, magazine bans, and other restrictions on gun owners without having to worry about what the “gun lobby” had to say.
Of course things haven’t worked out the way gun control activists were hoping for. While the NRA has certainly been weakened by James’ attempt to dissolve the organization, Second Amendment activists are still hard at work all across the country, and 2021 has actually been a pretty good year for gun rights. We’ve seen five states approve Constitutional Carry, a number of states adopt Second Amendment Sanctuary laws, and the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a challenge to New York’s restrictive “may issue” licensing laws for bearing arms (James herself is expected to defend those laws when the Court holds oral arguments in the case later this year).
You can sense the disappointment in a new report from the Associated Press that complains that the “NRA’s message has become so solidified in the Republican Party that even if the organization implodes from allegations of lavish spending and misuse of funds, its unapologetic pro-gun point of view will live on”.
Liberals have cheered the highly public legal and financial jeopardy ensnaring the National Rifle Association, seeing the gun lobby’s potential demise as the path to stricter firearms laws.
But, it turns out, the NRA’s message has become so solidified in the Republican Party that even if the organization implodes from allegations of lavish spending and misuse of funds, its unapologetic pro-gun point of view will live on, as the heated debate increasingly shifts from Washington to the states.
Not even the shift in power to Democrats in the White House and Congress has been enough to push through new federal restrictions, and states continue to pass laws with far-reaching protections for gun owners.
Ever confident, the NRA, which is based in Fairfax, Virginia, says the suggestion it is receding is magical thinking on the left. The group promises it will emerge from its failed bankruptcy effort stronger, particularly as it seeks to relocate to the decidedly pro-gun rights state of Texas.
The durable nature of the NRA’s clout is an exemplar of how difficult it is to claw back control from an entrenched lobbying powerhouse that has planted deep roots in the American political system with money, organization and relentless messaging.
“The NRA built up an impressive mountain of power over the course of 40 years. And despite their recent fall from grace, that power doesn’t disappear overnight,” Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said in an interview.
Did you notice that the Associated Press mentions the NRA’s money, organization, and messaging without ever acknowledging its actual members?
Even now anti-gun media outlets and politicians like Chris Murphy can’t admit the obvious; the power of the NRA (and other Second Amendment organizations like Gun Owners of America, Second Amendment Foundation, and Firearms Policy Coalition) comes from the millions of Americans who are willing to give time and treasure in order to secure and strengthen our right to keep and bear arms. Without the true grassroots energy from their members none of these institutions would be able to lobby, litigate, or educate Americans on Second Amendment issues, and the millions of gun owners who belong to national organizations and/or state-level 2A groups aren’t going to change their mind and embrace an anti-gun agenda just because the NRA’s a target of New York’s Attorney General.
“Gun rights, the Second Amendment, the right to keep and bear arms is bigger than any organization,” said Jordan Stein, communications director for the Gun Owners of America, one such group.
Gun owners would continue fighting if the organizations who often help them organize and coordinate around the issue were gone, he said.
That’s true, and even if every Second Amendment organization were to fold up their tents and disappear tonight, gun owners would soon create new institutions that would take up the slack.
Gun control activists were always deluding themselves if they really believed that all of their problems would disappear if they could kill off the NRA, and it’s good to see the Associated Press belatedly discover that the demise of the “gun lobby” has been greatly overstated by politicians like Chris Murphy and his congressional cronies. I have no idea what the future holds for the National Rifle Association, but I feel confident in stating that the Second Amendment support expressed by millions of NRA members and 2A activists will not be erased by anything that the gun control lobby and anti-gun politicians say or do. We (and our right to keep and bear arms) are here to stay.