The National Rifle Association has been vilified by pretty much every left-leaning politician for months now. Somehow, an organization doing what its members demand is somehow evil, and the group becomes worthy of scorn.

Even when the NRA is barely involved in something, it seems anti-gun crusaders feel justified in fighting its activities just because there’s some flimsy tie between the organization and whatever else.

In this case, we have the governor of Washinton refusing to sign marksmanship awards–something every other governor in the country does–because the event was registered with the NRA.

Governor Inslee is doing something unbelievably petty.

Back in 1903, there was a group that started in our nation called the Civilian Marksmanship Program. They would get together and have shooting competitions. It was for a while under the auspices of the Department of Defense. Here in Washington, they have a couple of groups that go and compete in marksmanship — the Washington State Rifle and Pistol Association, and the Washington State Police Pistol Association.

This organization always holds an annual banquet, where the top shooters — both civilians and law enforcement officers — are given certificates signed by the governor. Most states do this every year. It’s known as the Governor’s 20.

“The Governor’s 20 has been around for years — it’s a competition of law enforcement officers [who] are competing for skills,” Jane Milhans of the Washington State Rifle and Pistol Association told me.

This year, however, Governor Inslee’s office sent this letter ahead of the banquet.

“The certificates that were signed last May will be the final certificates signed by the governor … Governor Inslee is no longer able to support any program affiliated with the National Rifle Association (NRA), due to the organization’s obstructive efforts to undermine common sense gun safety measures, including those that enjoy broad public support.  We understand competitors will be disappointed by this decision; however, the Governor [sic] believes constructive conversations and meaningful action around gun safety are necessary to better protect our families and communities.”

But isn’t that a principled stand? I mean, if Inslee believes that the NRA is really that vile, then shouldn’t he make a stand?

Well, not really. You see, the NRA’s involvement is minimal.

Let me tell you the extent of the NRA’s involvement. The organization that runs this is just a little 501 (c)(3). They only register these competitions with the NRA so the shooters can get classifications if they set national records and so that the NRA can set a common set of standards for each state’s competition.

“The big focus and emphasis [of the NRA] is all on safety, and even the NRA … will provide training to smaller law enforcement agencies that don’t have the manpower for a training department,” Milhans said.

In other words, because the NRA is also a body that standardizes these competitions as well as defends our right to keep and bear arms, Inslee won’t sign marksmanship certificates for his state’s best shooters.

These are the people demanding we work with them?

Why? All I see out of them is vindictiveness and pettiness. Worse yet is that this doesn’t impact the NRA. It’s not being hurt by this. Instead, it hurts the shooters who earned their status as the state’s top shooters. You don’t create “constructive conversations and meaningful action around gun safety” by refusing to conduct a traditional act because there are some loose ties between the contest and an opponent organization.

In fact, because of this action, I see even less reason to try and work with people like Inslee. It’s clear that their approach is “my way or the highway,” and when it comes to my rights, that’s not remotely viable.

Pettiness in politics isn’t new, but it’s rarely been quite this grotesque.