The NRA’s identity crisis

How can change be create with the NRA, instead of against it?

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The NRA’s identity crisis

James Szalkie, Writer

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The NRA was founded by union veterans Col. William C. Church and Gen. George Wingate, who were disappointed in the lack of marksmanship shown by their troops. So, they built a shooting range in long island New York, and the program grew.

So what is the NRA’s purpose? One could summarize it as “to protect the rights established by the constitution (mostly regarding the right to bear arms).” This is, by definition what the purpose of March For Our Lives was intended to oppose. So, clearly we see the conflict between the two movements. But, when everyone is so focused on the differences, why don’t we break down the similarities?

Beyond securing one’s right to a gun, the NRA has more than just gun toting, black powder lusting, shooting individuals–they have a number of auxiliary programs. Beyond the political side of the NRA, they offer a large number of programs on gun safety, knowing one’s gun laws, hunter safety, and more. These programs make it as far as 4-H, American Legion, Royal Rangers (a Christian based scouting organization), National High School Rodeo Association (a rodeo entertainment based youth organization), the Boy Scouts of America, and more.

Image result for nra programs bsa

Here is the point we all should remember: nobody wants school shootings. The NRA even has a “school security” program being produced called National School Shield. And the fact is, there are no real bad guys here, because life is a matter of perspective, per the purpose of debate. This is a national, daily debate being had across the country, and we can break it down right here.

  • March for our lives/ stricter gun laws: Sees guns and their accessories as liabilities, and wishes to remove the issue at it’s source
  • NRA/ minimal gun laws (many in support of the NRA are also in support of more gun laws, just not the idea of no guns whatsoever): Sees guns as a symbol of freedom in their country, and believes there are less constitution-conflicting approaches to ending gun violence

The real issues that presides is this. First, two conflicting approaches to an issue cannot coincide, one must be chosen, either by compromise, or democracy. Second, and this is the issue many people face with their politicians, the NRA is essentially cheating, compared to the opposing movement.

It is widely known that the NRA makes “donations” (or buy outs) to many members of congress, and other representatives. They spent over three million dollars in lobbying in 2013 and 2014, and nearly one million on campaign contributions. Long story short: money wins elections. That is why many supporters of the gun opposition movement have repeatedly asked their representatives not to accept money from the organization.

So then comes the first issue, how to coincide. The issue may lie in compromise. Guns are, as gross as it may be to some, a highly integrated part of our culture, and will never be fully eliminated. That is why, rather than condemning the NRA, it should shift its priorities more from politics toward its auxiliary programs, and educate people on the safety of guns, and other program goals.