The NRA: Friend of Freedom, or Foe of Firearms?

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February 8, 2008

From a recent solicitation letter I received from the National Rifle Association in order to increase membership, I excerpt the following quote: 'We actively work to fight anti-gun media bias by encouraging law-abiding gun owners like you to stand tall and defend our freedoms without apology or compromise.'

For our purposes, let's set aside the misnomer of defending freedom while remaining 'law-abiding.' Thoreau, I suspect, among others ' myself included ' might have had a thing or two to say about that all by itself. It is also arguable that from a Voluntaryist standpoint, being a member of any organization that actively lobbies government in any form is counterproductive and antithetical to freedom. Insofar as this is true, I must admit that for several years I have been a member of Gun Owners of America, which prides itself on being 'the only no-compromise gun lobby.' In all the time I've been a member, I've seen nothing to dissuade me from the contention that the staff at GOA are genuine in this assertion. It's what, in part, makes the aforementioned quote from the NRA so breathtaking. Let's have a look at some additional recent events:

In the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings, Congress ginned up the so-named 'Veterans Disarmament Act.' This bill, in essence, expanded the infamous Brady background check law. To anyone who knows anything about government, this should come as no surprise. What is shocking is that this bill had the full backing and blessings of the NRA. In fact, the NRA staff worked very closely with none other than Senator Chuck Schumer and Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy ' both long-time and rabid attackers of gun ownership ' in order to get the bill passed. To quote Schumer in speaking with the Associated Press on September 27, 2007 , he said: 'When the NRA and Chuck Schumer agree, that tells you it's something worth doing.'

Here's something just as maddening. Congressman John D. Dingell, in actually speaking before an NRA audience, told the assembled crowd, 'In times of great stress, it is permissible to walk side by side with the devil to get to the other side of the bridge.' In so saying, he was quoting his self-proclaimed 'hero,' Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who had originally made the statement in defense of working hand in hand with Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin in World War II.

But here's the kicker, the thing that should make everyone stand up and take notice. In a letter from Iloilo Marguerite Jones of the Fully Informed Jurors Association (FIJA) to Larry Pratt, Executive Director of GOA, published in the Winter 2007 issue of American Juror, in which Ms. Jones refers to a recently produced FIJA jury nullification brochure focusing on gun rights, she had the following to say: 'Because you, Larry, had the courage to distribute this brochure, other groups, knowing you had done so, have been distributing the brochure as well, including Liberty Belles and JPFO (Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership [sic]). NRA has ignored our offers and correspondence regarding the brochure, which we offered to provide them to mail to their entire membership, more than once' (italics are mine).

I first received a copy of the brochure in question because of my GOA membership. It is of the highest possible quality, and upon subsequently contacting Ms. Jones to congratulate her for having done such an outstanding job, she graciously provided me with a large quantity of the brochures, and has subsequently sent me even more jury nullification materials at no cost to myself. So I can arrive at no other conclusion than this: The NRA, for all of its hyperbole, does not even want its own membership to be aware of the concept of jury nullification, even when an innocent gun owner may be standing in the dock. I can think of no legitimate excuse for that kind of behavior from a gun rights organization that claims to encourage defending freedom 'without apology or compromise.' None. Can you?

I must admit that, as a Voluntaryist, I remain a GOA member not to engage government, but because I enjoy staying informed, and also as an insurance policy: GOA has been known on numerous occasions to assist its members who run afoul of government thugs. Not just in high-profile cases, either; often just regular folks like you or me. Having said that, I'm not going to go so far, necessarily, as to accuse the NRA of being little more than a front organization for the forces of gun control ' although one might, based on the evidence, well make that assertion. What I am going to say, however, is only that which should be obvious by now: The NRA is no friend of freedom.

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Alex R. Knight III's picture
Columns on STR: 113

Alex R. Knight III is the author of numerous horror, science-fiction, and fantasy tales, including Tales from Dark 7.  He has also written and published poetry; non-fiction articles, reviews, and essays for a variety of venues; and is former Communications Director for the Libertarian Party of New Hampshire.  In 1998, he was awarded Activist of the Year for that organization.  He now lives and writes in rural southern Vermont where he holds a B.A. in Literature & Writing from Union Institute & University, and looks forward to living in a governmentless society of liberty.