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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Economist: "NRA's Star on the Wane"

The writer of this story must not have been at the same NRA Annual Meeting I attended.
One also has to wonder if the organisation has a winning strategy for the future. Although the number of firearms in the country continues to rise, most of these sales are to repeat customers. Over the last three decades the number of households with guns has steadily declined. Changing demographics are blamed. For one, America has become more urban (gun ownership is less common in cities). White males, the gun-loving sector of American society, also make up an increasingly smaller percentage of the population. What the industry actually needs is more Latino, black and female gun enthusiasts. But the NRA isn’t delivering these.
The people who turn up to NRA conventions, like the one held this week in St Louis, remain older white men. At this year's event, the main sign of women in the hall were the skimpily clad girls advertising guns. The NRA's magazines feature ads for leaf mulchers and Viagra, but not apparently the "sexy, fast and practical" bra gun holster.
I'm not going to address what has become boilerplate text for the gun ban crowd and their lap dogs in the MSM - that all those gun sales are being bought be repeat buyers.  In fact, Bitter does a much better job of debunking that line over on Shall Not be Questioned anyway.  And while the Economist may have a point that the NRA (and pro-rights organizations in general) need to do a better job of reaching out to blacks and latinos, I saw a lot of women attending the exhibit hall the three days I was in town, many with children in strollers or walking with mom and dad.  A number of the Women on Target clinics put on by VSSA affiliated clubs sell out.  So, I think we are doing a pretty good job of reaching new female shooters.

But the point of the post on the Economist web site is that the NRA's political clout is not what we are told.
But Paul Waldman, of the American Prospect, has recently argued that the NRA's dominance is a myth. He has looked closely at the figures and writes, “Despite what the NRA has long claimed, it neither delivered Congress to the Republican party in 1994 nor delivered the White House to George W. Bush in 2000.” He also argues that NRA money has no impact on congressional elections, as it spreads its money over so many races, and that NRA endorsements are “almost meaningless” as most go to incumbent Republicans with little chance of losing.
Most of those endorsments go to incumbent Republicans because increasingly, Democrats are anti-gun.  And on those rare occassions that NRA (or VSSA) endorses a pro-rights incumbent Democrat, more times than not, the organization(s) gets an ear full from members. Furthermore, in 2000, gun owners were energized like never before since I have been involved in pro-rights politics, so show me the evidence that gun owners did not make the difference in states like Tennessee.  Had Gore carried his home state in 2000, he would would have won the election.

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