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Sorry Folks, But the NRA Ain't Going Away.

              Over the past few years, especially since Mike Spies did his great reportage on  the hi-jinks going on in the NRA’s home office, I find myself again and again having to take some of the wind out of Gun-control Nation’s sails regarding whether America’s ‘first civil rights organization’ will find a way to stay afloat.

              And my belief remains unchanged that the NRA will continue to function even if the organization’s current trial in New York on corruption charges ends in a verdict which hits the group smack in the middle of its organizational and financial geezer, okay?

              And by the way, I don’t notice any great departure of the membership since Wayne LaPierre resigned from the leadership position he’s held for the past 33 years. In fact, the news that he’s decided to ‘retire’ was greeted, organizationally-speaking, with a big yawn.

              What has always bothered me about my friends in Gun-control Nation who see the NRA as America’s great bogey man is that I can’t find one of them who has even the slightest idea or experience about what the NRA is or what it does. After all, if you’re actively trying to reduce gun violence, why would you cough up a whole, big $45 to join the organization whose activities you need to at least understand if you’re going to make an assault on 2nd-Amendment ‘rights?’

              I am a member of 5 or 6 other advocacy organizations, including the Wildlife Fund, the National Parks Conservancy, and a couple of other tree-hugging groups. None of these outfits do a smidgen of the care and feeding of their memberships compared to how the NRA deals with its members through emails, monthly magazines, all kinds of product and service discounts, and most of all, through an extensive network of clubs and activities which reach just about every active gun owner in the United States.

              Estimates vary, but every year there must be somewhere between 4,000- and 5,000-gun shows. My state alone, which is not a big gun state, has 5 shows every year. Walk through the entrance into the show, and the first thing you see is a big banner announcing sponsorship from the NRA. There’s usually a booth where an NRA rep sits, talks the talk, and encourages gunnies to join right then and there.

              The organization also has a program known as ‘Friends of the NRA,’ where people can get together, have dinner, listen to some gun nuts shoot the breeze, enter a raffle for a gun and other toys, and just have an evening of fun and good times. Right now, there are 11 such events scheduled this year within easy driving distance of where I live.

              The big deal each year is the annual show, which attracts between 50,000- and 60,000-gun nuts who walk around, eat a hot dog, buy a t-shirt but most of all have an annual get together with the same people they’ve been meeting at the show for the last umpteen years.

              The NRA show reminds me of the way the Shriners have their annual celebration in New Orleans, and I don’t know of any gun-control organization which thinks in these terms, never mind actually holds this kind of event. For all the talk about how the NRA is so dedicated to lobbying for gun ‘rights,’ what the organization really does is find ways for similar-minded folk to get together with other similar-minded folk which creates a sense of belonging and community that transcends anything having to do with guns.

              That all being said, last week I received an email from the NRA which made me sit up and pay attention because it wasn’t just another solicitation to send them some dough, or another reminder about how those goddamn liberals want to take away all your guns. The email was an invitation to apply for admission to a Youth Education Summit that will be held for six days in Washington, D.C. – all expenses paid! The summit is for high school juniors and seniors with the goal being to become active and knowledgeable U.S. citizens by learning about the Constitution and Bill of Rights, the federal government, and the importance of being active in civic affairs.

              In other words, the NRA has decided to build a following by training the next generation of advocates who will become community leaders and spread the ‘gun rights’ gospel far and wide, obviously including advocates for gun ownership who will run for public office when an opportunity arises in their nek of the woods.

              And just to how you how serious this is, the application requires a high school transcript showing at least a 3-point GPA and requires the applicant to write and submit an essay about the 2nd Amendment and the importance of Constitutional protections of freedoms and basic rights.

              Incidentally, if you’re 20 years or older, you can apply to be a chaperone at this year’s summit event, which will include visits to various D.C. monuments and the requisite tour of the Capitol with stops at the offices of Congressional friends.

              If any of the gun-control organizations are reaching out like this to recruit and develop the next generation of advocates, they’re keeping it a very good secret, believe me.

              Want to reduce gun violence? Take a page from the NRA playbook and start trying to develop a following by doing something other than sending me the monthly letter or email asking me for cash.


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