The National Rifle Association broke all previous records at its Annual Meeting and Expo last weekend in Houston. Over 86,000 NRA members and friends showed up during the four-day event, and NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre announced during the Saturday members meeting that membership in the organization had, for the first time ever, topped 5 million.
A personal highlight for me during the meeting was the adoption of a resolution I authored calling for unwavering opposition to any and all efforts to expand gun control restrictions or infringements on the Second Amendment. The resolution was adopted with a unanimous vote of the members present, prompting Matt Gertz, research director for the “progressive” (read loony left) web organization Media Matters for America, to comment on how “out of step” the activists in attendance are with the American people and the broader NRA membership.
Mr. Gertz apparently bases this observation on carefully worded and selectively fielded polls conducted shortly after the atrocity at Sandy Hook School in Connecticut, which claimed that 90 percent of the American people, and some 75 percent of self-identified NRA members, supported the idea of expanding background-check requirements to include private transactions. It’s interesting to note that sales of guns and ammunition skyrocketed, as did NRA membership, during the same time frame – clear evidence that the polls were probably more than a little skewed. It is also telling that recent polling shows that senators who voted against the latest gun control scheme are enjoying a spike in popularity since the vote – contrary to early claims by the media that they were down in the polls.
I suppose Mr. Gertz assumes that we had armed guards at the doors of the members meeting to make sure that none of those 75 percent gun control supporters got in. Or perhaps he figures that the “moderates” were there, but afraid to express their dissent because, well, you know, us radical gun nuts carry guns and are notoriously unstable, so the dissenters might have feared that an opposing vote could set us off. After all, gun clubs, NRA meetings and firearm training facilities are frequently the scenes of rampaging gunmen and mass murder – right?
It’s particularly gratifying that Gertz and his ilk would use the discredited claims that NRA members support gun control schemes while reporting on my resolution, which was specifically aimed at refuting such bogus claims. The resounding support from the crowd and eventual unanimous vote to approve the resolution prove that NRA members who understand the issues do not support any expansion of background checks, or any other expansion of gun control laws.
The full text of my resolution can be found on The Firearms Coalition’s website.
In short, the resolution says that, even though anti-rights groups, politicians and the media exploited the Newtown tragedy, played on people’s emotions and had passage of some sort of gun control measure by the Senate virtually guaranteed, all of those efforts were defeated by the steadfast efforts of NRA-ILA working cooperatively with other national, state and local groups. It goes on to point out that none of the proposals would have prevented or impeded any of the recent high-profile atrocities, and that even the most “moderate” gun laws have historically been used more to harass regular gun owners than to prosecute real criminals. Finally, the resolution expresses the assembled members’ appreciation to NRA leadership and staff, exhorts them to continue to stand unwavering on the principles of freedom and to reject any and all expansion of firearms laws that would or could put honest Americans at increased risk of prosecution or would in any way infringe on the constitutionally guaranteed right to keep and bear arms.
The resolution ended with a call for the entire resolution, along with a brief report on how enthusiastically it was received by the membership, to be published in the Official Journal of the association so all members could see where their fellow members in Houston stood. Unfortunately, that last portion was amended out prior to passage, so NRA members will not get to read the resolution in their American Rifleman or other official publication. That was done on a claim of avoiding the expense of the printing, but I think it was more because the leadership didn’t want to see the Knox name in print in their magazines.
It’s no secret that members of the Knox family have often been critical of NRA leadership and some of the strategies and tactics the organization has employed. We were deeply offended when, just months after my father’s death, the organization celebrated the “Heroes of the Second Amendment” and completely omitted Neal Knox’s name, even while talking about matters in which he played a pivotal role.
Those sour grapes aside, I was very pleased with the resolute stand NRA took on the most recent action in the Senate, and I wanted to express my appreciation, give credit where credit was due and, as previously stated, give the membership the opportunity to refute the widespread assertions that they support expanded gun control. I believe I accomplished those goals.
This fight is not over by a long shot though. Anti-rights groups are putting immense pressure on senators who they think might switch their votes. Misguided Republicans continue to search for a compromise – muddying the waters and compromising principles. Harry Reid will soon be back for a second swing at the piñata, and House members have begun to debate the issue as well.
Supporters of liberty need to be in constant contact with their elected servants, reminding them that no expansion of gun control is acceptable. We’re in for a long fight. Dig in.