I’ve often described the NRA as the 800-pound gorilla of the gun rights movement. They’re the power player, the guys who can get all kinds of lawmakers to take their calls and, should they voice their displeasure, get those lawmakers to step back in line.
There’s a reason why the group is the villain in every gun control story; why they’re the target of anti-gun ire on just about everything.
Sure, many people are less than thrilled with the NRA as a whole and for a variety of reasons, the truth is that they’re still the most powerful gun rights group out there.
At least, they are if they show up.
Here lately, though, we don’t hear much about what they’re up to. The result? This:
In firearm-friendly Texas, two Republicans on a House committee helped advance a bill to raise the minimum age to buy AR-15style weapons. In Tennessee, a Republican governor known for championing looser gun laws has called a special legislative session to consider tighter ones “to strengthen the safety” of the state. In North Carolina, the GOP dominated Legislature dropped a proposal to allow gun owners to carry concealed weapons without a permit.
In several capitols across red America, gun control advocates say they are seeing faint — if, sometimes, fleeting — fissures in what has long been staunch Re publican opposition to any whiff of firearms restriction. The small shifts have come amid a gruesome torrent of mass killings in red states, including shootings at a school in Tennessee, a bank in Kentucky, a home outside Houston and, earlier this month, at a suburban Dallas outlet mall where eight were killed.
The hints of change cut against of broader trends in GOP-controlled states, where Republicans have generally expanded gun access in recent years while pointing to mental illness as the cause of a mass shooting epidemic. Lawmakers in Nebraska and Florida passed permitless carry this year, and in a sign that the legislative majority still defends gun rights, Republican leaders in Texas let the age minimum measure die before a full House vote.
But advocates for gun restrictions say they view any consideration of firearms control and even some recent pauses in the march to loosen regulations — as notable signs that the outcry over rising gun violence and death in red states may be cracking Republican resolve on the issue.
So where is the NRA in all of this?
In times past, the organization would be out front, calling on lawmakers to stand firm, debunking anti-gun arguments, and so on.
Like him or not, Wayne LaPierre would be on national TV regularly defending the right to keep and bear arms, not just on OANN, Fox News, or Newsmax either, but on CNN, MSNBC, and the big three networks. He’d be everywhere.
Today, not so much.
A quick review of the news searching for NRA will show plenty from their publications, but little of them anywhere defending our gun rights elsewhere. So, again, where are they?
Part of what we’re seeing–or, more accurately, what we’re not seeing–is the result of a massive layoff back in 2020. That was due to reduced revenue, as the laid-off employees were told.
Couple that with the NRA’s ongoing legal battles with New York Attorney General Letitia James and yes, the organization has an awful lot going on and nowhere near the staff they once had to deal with it.
Yet for gun rights supporters, that’s not exactly spurring them to renew memberships anytime soon. If the NRA is having financial trouble, then maybe they should start giving people a reason to spend their money.
As it stands, it almost looks like they’re willing to let gun control laws pass, then trust groups like the Second Amendment Foundation and the Firearms Policy Coalition to step up and get them tossed out by the courts.
That’s not a good look and not one that will help the NRA’s current woes.
Like it or not, we need the NRA, but it sure looks like they’re playing defense right now. That’s not the way to win.