Why the NRA's apparent loss of clout changes nothing

AP Photo/Michael Conroy

The NRA has been in a tough spot of late. After all, they were faced with being forced to shut down if New York’s attorney general had her way. While that bullet has been dodged, the organization is far from home free.

In a lot of ways, the organization doesn’t have the prestige it once did.

So, some are asking why gun control still isn’t happening.

After the mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, many New York elected officials called out the National Rifle Association (NRA) for holding lawmakers figuratively hostage with their campaign donations.

Indeed, the organization has played a significant role in both messaging and campaigns of the past. In the 2016 election cycle, the NRA gave over $30 million to the campaign of Donald Trump alone.

But since then, the NRA has taken a serious financial hit thanks to a lawsuit brought against it by New York Attorney General Letitia James having to do with financial impropriety within the organization.

The question is, if the NRA isn’t making the same massive campaign donations it used to make, why are politicians still espousing the group’s talking points?

The answer they reach, by talking to precisely one person, is that those talking points are now part of conservative orthodoxy.

To be fair, that’s probably true to a certain degree.

However, it also glosses over a deeper truth, one anti-gun jihadists have long refused to acknowledge about the NRA.

The organization’s power has always, ultimately, rested on the fact they represented gun owners.

See, the NRA wasn’t really responsible for crafting those talking points. Instead, they were more of a reflection of the group’s membership and what they wanted.

With the group facing serious threats, the talking points never changed because the people who want to hear those points coming from their politicians haven’t changed.

It’s never been about the NRA. All they’ve really been is a group that represented the will of gun owners as a whole, more or less to varying degrees of accuracy.

If you could somehow unmake the NRA, little would have changed over the years. Someone else would have stepped up to fill that need.

But the NRA does exist and, as a result, they fill that need and have done so for years.

Right now, they’ve got a lot going on and are understandably a bit distracted. However, lawmakers know that the NRA, by itself, was never who determined who gained office or stayed in office and who didn’t. That has always been about the millions upon millions of gun owners who want to defend their right to keep and bear arms.

Anti-gunners have never gotten that. They’ve just focused on the NRA and deluded themselves to believe that if the NRA would just stop being mean to them then they could create their anti-gun Utopia.

That’s not how it works and that’s why the NRA can be so embattled and the line continues to hold firm. We’re not backing down because the NRA represents us, we don’t represent them.