I really don’t want to start another gun thread. But I do have a question relating to all the endless gun threads we’ve all seen.

Whenever the debate about guns in the US hits the news, it gets some coberage here in Europe. Without fail, the article (or news story on TV) will carry a comment about NRA. It will be somthing like: “But president Clinton might not do that, due to preassure from the powerful Gun Lobby of the US.”

Finally coming around to my question. They are always refered to as being powerful. How come? Why do (liberal) politicians fear NRA to the point of not taking action against guns, even if they want to? It’s not like they have all the old J Edgar Buddha files handy, do they?

If you in any way read this as being an attempt to start a pro/con gun thread, it’s my mistake, I just want to learn more about NRA

When in trouble or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout

Regardless of whether you support or oppose their viewpoints, you have to acknowlege the NRA is a powerful lobby. They have a lot of active members, they are well-financed, they have a skilled public relations organization, and perhaps most importantly they are willing to openly use their lobbying muscle. Because of this, many politicians seek NRA support or at the very least seek to avoid open opposition.

IN addition to what Mike said, I’ll add the following:
The National Rifle Association is member supported through contributions and membership dues; these monies are not tax deductible, by either the members or the organization.
The reason we “flex our muscle” pulicly is that we can; we have nothing to hide, no political agenda aside the protection of the traditional interpretation Second Amendment.
“We” are American citizens, banded together in common cause and unifying purpose.
“We” are 3.2 million strong and growing.
“We” are ably led by duly elected officers, who locate and retain the services of some of the finest legal minds available; not just “hired gun” schysters, but believers in our cause.
Politicians are afraid of crossing “Us” because we start at what is known in America as the “grassroots” level; not just the rich, influential and privellaged, but everyday citizens from all walks of life.

The Nationl Rifle Association
The NRA-Institute for Legislative Action

In addition to the NRA, here are some other organizations with political clout:
The Second Amendment Foundation
Gun Owners of America
Citizen’s Committee On The Right To Keep And Bear Arms
Jews For The Preservation Of Firearm Ownership

And if you are looking for some of he leading legal scholarship on the issue:
The Second Amendment Law Library
This is a well-rounded site that credibly represents all sides of the issue.

The NRA is not the lone voice of reason (or discord, depending upon your politics) in the fight to preserve the Second Amendment from extinction.
We just get picked on the most and seriously misrepresented and maligned by our political adversaries because we’re one of the largest and best organized groups out there.

In case you are unaware, the blue highlighted texts are hyperlinks; rest your cursor over them, click and go!

“In case you couldn’t tell, I’m a member of the NRA”

“We” are also very good at assuming that anyone with a different opinion is an ignorant fool who just cannot know the TRUTH when it is served from Above.
“We” speak with absolute knowledge and authority, and we are good at quoting from the approved manuals, but are reduced to childish name-calling when left to “our” own devices.

“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”
Hunter Thompson

Here “We” go

“We” are running away from this thread and not looking back.

Senor Tan, I’ll try and keep my reply at least somewhat judgement-free…

In the US, the NRA is a powerful lobby (like any other) because they can deliver $$ and votes in blocks, and all on the back of a relatively binary issue, to politicians who need all three. NRA has more money to give a campaign than say: Straight Dope aficionados, who also are generally to sparse to court as a voting block for any given politician anyway (except perhaps in Chi-town), and cannot express their common purpose in sound-bites.

Think “Anti-drug !” “Pro-gun !” “Anti-gun”, etc… as opposed to “I, Senator DeepPockets, support the democratic joint electronic efforts to research topics of mutual interest to…”

If you’re a pol in say, Alabama, NRA support nets you a mess of votes and money. Anti-gun might net you a mess of votes in Connecticut. A Straight Dope lobby (or often an environmental lobby) can’t deliver such targeted support.

See what I mean, Charlie T.?
Sorry you had to step into the crossfire; Slythe is a gun-prohibitionist who likes to launch emotional appeals and personal attacks rather than cite legal scholars, court rulings and such.
But you didn’t want to be drawn into the pro-con argument, you just wanted to know who we were and the foundation of our political clout; thus I provided the links to our website, and a few others that might be interesting to you.


I’ve been away for a week, so it was just on returning home tonight that I could check the replies.
I did not want to troll and start a gunthread, but was seriously interested in background material to better understand the ongoing debate on guns. I have a copy of the Constitution in my World Almanac, so I can read 2nd ammendment myself. That alone does not provide enough information.

When in trouble or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout

I think that the NRA should rename their organization the NHGA because that’s what they fight so hard to protect, their “rights” to own and carry concealed hand guns.

I and many others don’t have a problem with rifles and shotguns…they are generally used for hunting and skeet shooting, etc. Hand guns on the other hand are predominantly used to kill humans and that’s what the NRA kooks really want to protect!

Rename the oganization for what it really stands for and quit hiding behind rifles!

Contestant #3

There are lots of “powerful” lobbies in the U.S., they form a critical part of government. Other than the NRA, there’s the old-people’s lobby (AARP), the tobacco lobby, etc. The “power” of a lobby is (generally) directly related to it’s ability to help in elections: either by delivering votes, or by supporting with funds, or both.

Tank, you’ve made some interesting comments on the NRA. I think the NRA has got a reputation of being extremist, of taking a hard line position that doesn’t ever bend, of opposing any proposed legislation that even vaguely hints of controlling weapons. If the NRA wants to change its image, methinks it would be appropriate to once in a while recognize that some weapons controls are helpful to society. I think the popular image of the NRA is that they would favor individuals being able to own nuclear weapons, as protection against terrorists with nuclear weapons… same as the handgun argument. (Warning: joke)

Anyway, my point is that the NRA (sort of like the ACLU) has got a reputation of being extremist. It would be interesting to see whether there is any desire to change that image.

I suspect that one of the reason the pro-control people take such extreme positions (like outlawing ALL weapons) is because the anti-control NRA takes such an extreme position. The one side taking an extreme position forces the other side into an extreme position. I personally would like to see a little more compromise on both sides. People need to be able to hunt and to protect themselves, but the gun murder rate is entirely out of hand. There are surely compromise positions – for instance, required education or training in gun safety (similar to automobile licensing, requiring a test to show minimum competence.) Such compromise can surely lead us to a safer and healthier society, which still allows its citizenry to bear arms.

As much as I am against guns, I can’t believe much will change no matter what we legislate. The gun thing is so much a part of American culture, you can’t erase it. The same thing with Clinton’s violent movies. Sure they pushed a few kids over the edge, but it took much more to get them there. So the politicians will legislate and appease a few with their laws. Nothing will change.
You can legislate and control the activities of highly visible organizations, corporations, institutions of various sorts. You can’t easily control the individual.

Please see “People hunting” thread in the BBQ Pit

Thanks, Dex.
Prime example of smacking the nail directlly on the head and driving it home in one hit.

I personally don’t know which came first in the realm of extremity, pro- or anti-gun; but you are absolutely correct that the NRA looks suspiciously upon any gun-control proposals; that isn’t to say that they fight or oppose any and all gun-control legislation.

If only because there are some in the gun-control groups (I don’t know how many or what proportion of the opposition they represent) that have emphatically stated that they want to ban private possession/ownership of all firearms in America.

I too believe that training and education on safety of firearms should be a key factor in anyone’s decision to purchase a firearm; and that such training and education would raise the awareness of gun-owners to the possible dangers and social costs of misuse of firearms.

Whether it need to be a law or not? I would be very interested in the wording of such a law, and the planned implementation of that law. But in theory, at least, I’m not opposed to it.

And neither, I belive, is the NRA.
If it weren’t a stepping stone to further, more restrictive gun-control laws.