By Paul Valone, Charlotte Gun Rights Examiner
As conservatives battle to wrest control of Congress back from the left, liberal news organs like The Washington Post, National Public Radio and even “The Gray Lady” herself have cheered the NRA as it endorses Democrats across the country.
And rest assured the NRA’s efforts are systematic. Take, for example, an e-mail I got yesterday from “Marge”:
“Isn’t it strange that the NRA has supported Shuler, but you, based only on the answers to a survey can support some one [sic] else. Perhaps you should do your ‘due diligence’ and look at the voting record of the incumbent. Or, is that too much trouble. Anyone can say anything in a survey — voting record stands for all to see. Organizations like yours do nothing but dilute the effectiveness of the ‘real’ gun support activists. Get your act together!!!!”
This was in response to a multi-thousand-piece postcard mailing done into North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District against incumbent Democrat Heath Shuler and for opponent Jeff Miller. I explained to Marge that Shuler’s low marks weren’t based on just a survey and that he didn’t really have a voting record on a strictly gun-related bill, but had brokered House passage of HR 5175, the misnamed “DISCLOSE Act,” a piece of legislation designed to muzzle gun groups by requiring them to disclose membership information if they so much as mention a candidate prior to an election.
I also explained that Shuler cut language to exempt the NRA – and only the NRA – while leaving other gun groups to hang, after which the NRA sat on its hands and cheerfully withdrew opposition to the bill. But I doubt I made much impression: The “NRA do or die” crowd is not often swayed by logic.
THE ROOTS OF NRA COMPROMISE
In recent weeks, pro-gun forums have buzzed with complaints about NRA endorsements. Fellow Gun Rights Examiner David Codrea questioned how the NRA could endorse California’s Dan Lundgren, despite his having been the architect of one of the original “assault weapon” bans. David also wrote, “Gun owners must consider more than NRA grades,” while Jews for the Preservation of Gun Ownership branded NRA ratings as “illogical.”
And although flawed NRA ratings are just now becoming a common topic of concern, they have been lamented among hardened gun rights activists for years. Indeed, an entire site, called NRAWOL, on which you can find an excellent (albeit dated) piece by former NRA board member Russ Howard called “Sleeping with the enemy? No more A grades for gun-grabbers.”
In my sixteen years of gun rights leadership, I can cite myriad examples. Misleading NRA ratings were, in fact, the reason my organization, Grass Roots North Carolina, created its “Remember in November” system of objective candidate evaluations. I’ve been nose-to-nose with Tanya Metaksa at the Velvet Cloak Inn in Raleigh when she came to North Carolina to tell (yes, tell) gun rights leaders to support anti-gun Governor Jim Hunt. (I think her words were, “Do you want a war? Is that what you want?”)
And then, of course, we had the endorsement of incumbent NC Governor Mike Easley. Having been promised by then-NRA state and local representative Jeff Freeman that the NRA would never support Easley, he did indeed get an “F” on his first run. Once elected, however, he signed a bill for (get this) NRA commemorative license plates and his “F” magically morphed into an “A” and endorsement, even against proven gun rights defender (and eventual Congressman) Robin Hayes.
[Writer’s correction: Memory failed me. Hayes ran against Hunt in Hun’t second term, precpitating the split between NC activists and the NRA which brought Metaksa to Raleigh. It was state senator Patrick Ballantine (100% pro-gun voting record) who ran against Easley in Easley’s second term. The NRA supported Easley, causing yet another split with state activists. The NRA commemorative license plate bill was SB 464, which passed in 2004, just prior to Easley being upgraded from “F” to “A.”] Read more
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