Criticizing the NRA’s “carveout”

updated 6/18/2010, 6/20/2010
Note: Upon further consideration, my position regarding this issue has changed. I have chosen to leave the original parts, and simply add new material at the bottom of the article.

Redstate is among the many voices criticizing the NRA for their decision to take the “carveout” in the latest attempt at campaign “finance reform.” Indeed, many NRA members, myself included, do not agree with the decision to take this exemption from a bad and unconstitutional piece of legislation. Even a member of the NRA’s board has joined in the criticism.

It looks as though the leadership of the NRA decided to take the first offering instead of holding out for something better. Though I do not agree with their actions here, I do understand them. The NRA may be mighty (and this shows that the left fears them), but they do not have unlimited resources. They would prefer to spend their time and money fighting for the second amendment and allow other single issue organizations to fight for the first. Therefore, they took the first small victory rather than hold out for the better victory they could have attained. While I understand why they took that action, I heartily disagree with it. First, there is no guarantee that the “carveout” would survive into the final version signed into law. Second, the ‘carveout” would not protect other champions of the second amendment like the state affiliates of the NRA as well as its “rival” organizations. This does not serve the cause of our second amendment freedoms. Third, the law is, itself, unconstitutional and an affront to all free people.

The problem, though, is that this actions has led to people cancelling their NRA memberships and calling on others to do the same. This is not a good idea. I will NOT cancel my NRA membership.

To abandon the NRA because they are not perfect is not wise. If you support the right to keep and bear arms, you should be in the NRA if you can afford to spend the $35/year. If you prefer another group, such as the GOA, then join BOTH. The NRA has something other “purer” groups don’t: numbers. The left doesn’t fear the GOA, JPFO, or any other gun group. They do fear the NRA. The NRA has serious clout because of their history, their reputation, and their numbers.

Despite this disagreement, I will continue to be a proud member of the NRA. They are my best representative on second amendment issues in DC and nationwide.

Let me clarify, I’m glad that the NRA participated in the fight for the first amendment. I just know that when negotiating from a position of power, one does not take the first offer of the weaker party. Am I overestimating the power of the NRA? If this exemption were all they could get, then I could see doing that, but this is the name that makes liberals go into a cold sweat.

I understand that the NRA is not a first amendment organization. They only got into this fight to protect themselves and got out as soon as they were protected. They want to reserve their resources for the second amendment. I understand that. I just think accepting the first offer from the surrendering party is not the best strategy. The NRA is exempt, but what about their state affiliates. Besides, the exception could easily be repealed and allowing the law to pass sets a very bad precedent.

Anyway, that was not intended to be the main point of my post. The point was that I am still a proud and loyal member of the National Rifle Association. Those who would leave the NRA over this would only weaken the cause of our Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

6/18/2010 (addendum)
The Washington Post reports that the NRA’s exemption to the DISCLOSE act has caused disunity within the Democratic party. This may have the effect of killing the bill. I sincerely hope so.

Upon further consideration of the issue, I no longer oppose the decision by the NRA to accpet this exemption. Don’t get me wrong, there is still a part of me that objects to this, but overall, I believe this is the right decision. I had considered deleting this post as I no longer agree with my original position regarding the exemption, but decided to leave it and add to it so that my reconsideration of the issue might be a part of this record.

As to the people who are leaving the NRA over this issue, my position has not changed. The NRA is the largest and most effective organization defending our second amendment. Leaving because of one or even many disagreements is not a good idea (unless you no longer agree with the right to keep and bear arms). I don’t agree 100% with anyone, even my wife, who I love beyond words. If you believe in our right to keep and bear arms, join the NRA. If you want to join other “purer” groups as well, then do that too. I believe that we need all of our organizations. They help each other (even if they don’t admit it) though they could do a better job at cooperative effort.

6/20/2010 (addendum)
What made me change my mind was thinking of the TV show M*A*S*H. The 4077th is a battlefield hospital in a war, not a civilian hospital in a quiet little town. When mass casualties arrive, the doctors there must engage in triage and meatball surgery. There are more patients than surgeons or time. Now, a TV show is not going to be consistently accurate in their depiction of medical procedures, but these procedures (as depicted in M*A*S*H) are instructive as we are engaged in a (metaphorical) war for our second amendment rights.

Triage is separating patients into categories and priority levels. Basically, some patients will live even if they have to wait. These patients can be ignored for the time being until the more urgent patients are taken care of or if their condition worsens. Other patients will die no matter what can be done for them or would require a level of care that could not be provided due to the number of patients and limited resources. As unpleasant as this is, these patients must be ignored in a crisis situation. Patients with an intermediate level of need are seen first.

“Meatball surgery” is a colloquial term for battlefield surgery. It is done quickly with the goal of stabilizing the patient enough to survive. This would allow the surgeons to move on to save other patients or transport the patient to another hospital where the surgical “fine tuning” could be done.

In this “war” to preserve our liberty we must triage or pick our battles. Some fights are more strategically important or even easier to win. Other fights must be avoided or postponed.

Similarly, we sometimes must perform “meatball surgery” – not putting full resources into a worthy fight in order to have resources available for other fights. The 4077th would “patch them up then send them out” to another hospital in order to maximize resources. The NRA joined this fight, achieved its objective, then handed the fight to other organizations – ones that are dedicated to preserving the first amendment. The NRA is mighty and greatly feared by the opponents of liberty, but it does not have limitless resources. The forces of statism are fighting this war on many fronts with the resources of wealthy progressives behind them. Unfortunately, there are more battles than can actually be fought at any given time.

Just as any physician who values the Hippocratic Oath will be pained at having to follow these emergency procedures, I and others are not completely satisfied with the outcome of this situation. However, I now believe that the leadership of the NRA made the right decision here.

The NRA’s statement regarding the “DISCLOSE Act.”

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