Should libertarians join the NRA?

Someone recently sent an email asking for a post on whether folks should join the NRA.  Jason, probably knowing how much of a gun guy I am, asked me if I was interested in expressing my thoughts.  Being the shy, unassuming person who never shares his opinions with a living soul…oh wait, that’s not me at all.  Of course I jumped at it.

The National Rifle Association is a group I’ve been pretty critical of for some time.  Their compromises gave us background checks for firearm purchases, among other things.  Over the years, they have tried to compromise rather than digging in their heals for our Second Amendment rights, so there’s plenty to be critical of.  However, that was the past.  What about the now?

To me, all the questions about the NRA can be summed up with their argument against Senator Rand Paul’s proposed amendment that would restrict law enforcement’s ability to look at firearm purchase records.  While the NRA was correct that district attorney’s could get grand juries to subpena the records in question, what was missed is that the grand jury is a form of judicial oversight.

Instead, the NRA pretend that law enforcement being able to demand access to records is preferable to a panel of American citizens deciding if there is probably cause to access those records.  Anyone purchasing a firearm from a licensed dealer has to fill out this paperwork, and the NRA’s position turns this paperwork into a de facto form of registration.

Way to go NRA.  No suggestions on how to tweak it to make it more acceptable, just cover for allegedly pro-gun members of Congress to vote against the amendment in question without being labeled as anti-gun.

Many people are willing to forgive and forget when it comes to the NRA, arguing that they are our largest pro-gun lobby.  That’s true, but only because people are willing to “forgive and forget” how the NRA - who is supposed to defend our rights - is willing to destroy our rights if it makes them think they’ll get ahead.

So, do I think libertarians should join the NRA?  I can’t speak for everyone, but I sure as hell won’t.  While I think a single issue group should focus on that one issue, I can’t believe that the NRA is truly interested in defending my right to keep and bear arms.  Instead, I believe they’re interested in nothing more than playing the Washington game.

In other words, I personally recommend that libertarians looking to join an organization to defend our right to keep and bear arms not join the NRA.  There are many other groups that do quality work in that arena as well, and are less compromising with our beloved Second Amendment rights than the NRA.  Gun Owners of America is one such group.

So what do I saw to those who argue that the NRA is the largest gun rights group in the nation?  I simply tell them that all things change in time, and it’s way past time for that fact to change.


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