There has been a bit of talk about the fading of the NRA. The organization isn’t as out in the public eye as they have been in the past, and I’m one of those who have pointed out that they should be. However, I’m not convinced that the NRA is exactly dying, though there definitely seems to be some degree of contraction.
Of course, a lot of people are glad to see this contraction. They hope it continues until the group they see as the biggest impediment to gun control is a footnote in history.
Yet as many called for just that to happen, a lot of folks, myself included, warned that if the NRA vanished overnight, they still wouldn’t have a free ride to gun control. The power of the organization was always in its members, and those members weren’t going to shrug and just take the loss. They’d throw their weight behind other groups, some of which are far less willing to compromise.
It seems the folks at the Guardian suddenly learned what we’ve been telling them.
Azealous gun rights group, even more uncompromising than the once formidable National Rifle Association, is emerging as a force in US politics with a mission to oppose efforts at gun control and ease further America’s already lax regulations on firearms.
Last year the Gun Owners of America (GOA) spent $3.3m on lobbying, a record sum for the hardline foe of gun control that now claims over 2 million members and activists, and has previously operated in the shadows of the larger NRA.
The GOA’s record lobbying spending in 2022 was spurred in part by a rise in its annual revenues, which more than tripled from $2.3m in 2016 to $8.7m in 2021, according to tax records.
The GOA is an adamant enemy of gun control measures of all stripes, and proudly calls itself the “no compromise” gun lobby. Its surge in lobbying spending reflects one way it has capitalized on the financial and legal problems of the once 5 million-member NRA in the hopes of expanding the GOA’s political clout, say gun experts.
“The GOA was formed in the 1970s because they believed the NRA was too liberal,” said Robert Spitzer, the author of several books on guns and a professor emeritus at Suny Cortland in New York. “True to its creed, the GOA has opposed every manner of gun law and attacked the NRA at every turn.”
In other words, as the NRA has faded to some degree, Gun Owners of America has grown. That’s hardly surprising.
Look, there were reasons for the NRA’s decisions. I get it and in a lot of cases, it was just a case of trying to nerf gun control laws that seemed pretty likely to pass. That’s a valid approach, even if many gun rights advocates didn’t like it.
But people aren’t required to sit and take what they don’t like. They’re not required to support an organization that was willing to cut deals if they didn’t want to.
Then couple it with allegations of the NRA misspending money to benefit top leadership and a lot of people just weren’t going to be happy with them.
Yet when you see Erich Pratt at a gun rights event–something you’re unlikely to see Wayne LaPierre at unless it’s a big NRA function–he’s wearing a GOA polo-style shirt or something equally normal for a man in his role.
In fact, the one time I got to chat with Pratt face to face, a lot of people teased him about his lack of expensive suits–a charge leveled at LaPierre at the time was that the NRA paid for those suits of his.
See, the power of the NRA is its membership, but if that membership doesn’t have the NRA, they’re going to find another group. I warned anti-gunners that the NRA wasn’t going to be their toughest challenge. For all their pontification on the evils of the organization, the National Rifle Association has at least willing to sit down and talk.
GOA and other Second Amendment groups aren’t. They’re not going to accept defeat. They’re going to fight even harder and make life for anti-gunners so much more difficult.
They thought they knew what they wanted, but they really didn’t.