Oliver North to Become President of NRA

Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website Yonder and Home. Andrew is the host of Heard Tell podcast.

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110 Responses

  1. Mike Dwyer says:

    Complete figurehead and everyone knows LaPierre runs the organizaton.Report

    • Correct. And interesting symbolism; if anything cranking up the confrontational, partisan form they have been selling as public image the last few years. Almost picking a fight with the scrutiny this will bring to a mostly ceremonial position.Report

      • Chip Daniels in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:

        I’m partial to the Rachel Maddow’s theory that the NRA is the “heat shield” preferred by gun manufacturers to be the noisy public face absorbing all the attacks, while they conduct business in the background.Report

        • Mike Dwyer in reply to Chip Daniels says:


          I think that’s a fair assessment. Even as a gun owner that seems to be farther and farther from the NRA’s message, I know they are also doing me a service in a way because they keep the wolves away.Report

          • Kazzy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

            That is an interesting point. But to what extent does the NRA also create new wolves or otherwise bait them? Might be a bit of a chicken-and-egg thing as well.Report

            • Mike Dwyer in reply to Kazzy says:

              I don’t know that there is anyone who would have normally been neutral that became anti-gun due to the NRA. Honestly, the biggest enemy is the un-educated on the topic, not the small number who are actively anti-gun.Report

              • I think there is a real argument to make that the NRA is making a long term mistake being so openly political on matters beyond 2A. I understand it, but I think it is a mistake. With the political heated rhetoric comes a lot of attention and money, and those funds come quicker and easier than just membership drives. But there is a price to that. It wasn’t that long ago NRA was pretty bi-partisan. Their stated goal of 2A defense in not helped with some of their more over the top political stuff, especially the NRATV spots. To point, the ad where the guy smashed the TV comes out right before Parkland. They have nothing to do with each other but the optics of “crazy person smashing TV” doesn’t help a week later when you are called upon to discuss serious gun issues.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:


                I don’t disagree with you. Sometimes I honestly think there a few loons at the top of their leadership calling all these decisions. Honestly, I see some of the same stuff in my own company. The tail end of the Baby Boomers are still in charge in a lot of places and they are losing their marbles (LaPierre is 68). Time for them to go to the retirement home IMO.Report

              • My first take when reading the headline was something to the effect of “Jeez Louise, how long are the Boomers going to be in charge of schtuff?” (Paraphrased)Report

              • They do tend to re-tread, don’t they.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:

                Don’t re-tread on me.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:


              • Chip Daniels in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                I don’t know that there is anyone who would have normally been neutral that became anti-gun due to the NRA.

                Hello my name is Chip Daniels.
                I grew up around guns, went hunting as a boy, taught shooting classes as a Scout leader, and bought my son a rifle when he turned 18.

                It wasn’t the NRA solely, but it was the gun culture that is intrinsically interwoven with it.
                I used to be able to accept the gun nuts are the fringers who could be kept at arms distance, but like Republicans in general, the fringers ended up being the mainstream, the defining characteristic of the culture.
                Even when we were at the range with the Scouts in 2005-2008 we kept a wary distance from the nuts that inhabited the place.

                When I visited the gun shop to buy my sons rifle, I had to bite my tongue as the Travis Bickels there bonded over fantasies of what they would do with their Colt Python .357 to the guys who would make their day, by God.

                I just can’t, anymore.
                I know there are people like my kindly gentle uncle who went up each year to hunt elk, but he is gone now, and there are fewer and fewer of him every day, and more and more Travis Bickels.

                I’m done.
                I’ve gone from being a gun owner to questioning the entire existence of a right to own one.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Chip Daniels says:


                I don’t know that the type of guys you describe are a direct result of the NRA. I honestly think it’s a lot of other cultural factors. Hollywood, prepper culture, 9/11 and the lack of people with actual military experience.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                I agree.
                I think it goes the other way- the Travis Bickels made the NRA what it is.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                You are probably right. The tail is wagging the dog. We could speculate about the lack of masculinity in America too.

                At the same time though, I consider myself a Preparedness type also, but it’s somehow different. I keep a gun near the bed for home defense, but also a pair of flex cuffs because (God-forbid it ever happens) I would much rather cuff an intruder for the police that kill someone. Many of my coworkers, who appear to be the nicest people in the world, also seem to relish the idea of gunning down a home intruder.Report

              • veronica d in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                +1 to what @chip-daniels said. After all, not only have I owned guns, I used to shoot steel sihloettes that me and my roommate would weld up in his metal shop. I owned a black powder gun, a flintlock! (None of those damn modern precussion caps for me!) I’ve cast my own bullets from lead wheelweights I took from work.

                I’m not quite an insulated “bi-coastal” liberal type. (Although I am bi!)

                But yeah, the “Travis Bickel” type — yeesh! In my day there were a lot of (what I called) “paramility wannnabes.” You know the types: guys tripped out in tactical black with their dark sunglasses and various “military style assault rifles.”

                Meanwhile my only firearm less that thirty years old was a lovely Remington target .22.

                Blah. Those guys were the worst.

                [insert gender stuff here]

                Anyway, we can always debate how much the NRA “causes” this stuff, versus “contributes” or “reflects” — but the leadership is supposed to lead.Report

              • Black powder rifles are sacred where I come from, so respect for that.

                Travis Bickel types are the extreme of course, but I think there is legitimate criticism of what some have dubbed “Gun Porn”. It gets so over the top. Wannabes is a good term for a lot of them. I can remember editing and cropping weapons out of pictures I sent home from Iraq specifically for the (then very young) children to see. Not that they didn’t know what weapons were or had a respect for them, with the connotation of me being gone it was just unnecessary. I have plenty of them but not for showing off. I grew up hunting, surrounded by and frequently carrying weapons, and I think it is very clear the “selfie” “facebook” generational shift of promoting your own personal brand at all times has brought out the worst in some gun enthusiast, as it has in all niche genres.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:

                The selfie with a firearm bugs me (much in the same way a selfie with a car does) as it’s highly suggestive that the object one poses with is tightly tied to one’s identity.

                It’s different from a picture of a person using an object, which is more of a “this is what I am doing right now” instead of a “this is who I am”.Report

              • More specifically, the selfie of a firearm in what otherwise would have nothing to do with it but the weapon is there to get the attention, such as the “graduation photo” thing a few weeks ago. The point wasn’t your right to carry, it was to get attention. “I’m at the range working on my skills” is very different to me than “I’m going to go viral, watch this”.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:


              • veronica d in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:

                Yeah, if someone posts pics of their “day at the gun range,” that seems totally cool to me, and no different from any other “lifestyle” shots. But this seems to contrast with the “posing with a gun” style shots. It’s just … different.Report

              • InMD in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                The range I frequent prohibits photography. Not sure if it is for safety or reputational reasons. Either way I approve.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Aren’t the uneducated the most susceptible to the NRA? In both directions?

                If I don’t know squat about guns and look for the most accessible public voice on the pro side and the NRA pops up, I could accept them as “the norm” and be turned off.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Kazzy says:

                That’s possible, but I think the general public reaction to mass shootings is the primary force driving anti-gun policies these days. The NRA is complicit in the sense that they are viewed as an impediment to legislation that could (in theory) reduce gun violence.Report

              • Road Scholar in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                I have to echo @chip-daniels here, @mike-dwyer. Unlike Chip, I’ve never personally purchased or owned a firearm, but I grew up around them and people who hunted. Every farmer I knew had at least a couple around for the varmints if nothing else. Gun racks in pickups were pretty much standard equipment. So while I’m not an enthusiast I’m also not a “gun grabber” by any means either.

                But I gotta tell ya, I’m really bothered by the yahoo faction of the gun owners and the NRA really seems to be stoking that contingent. I don’t know whether the NRA is following or leading that parade and I don’t know if it really matters anymore. But the hyper-defiant, not-so-vaguely threatening rhetoric coming from them has really turned my opinion against them.

                In the past I was supportive of gun ownership rights at least in an abstract, libertarian sense. Now? I gotta be perfectly honest; I don’t really give a good hot damn about your second amendment rights anymore. Frankly, I think the 2A argument is legally weak and ahistorical. Heller was wrongly decided IMHO. I’m not going to be leading any charge for abolition and confiscation, but neither am I going to stand in the way. And I’m certainly not going to vote Republican, or withhold my vote for a Democrat over gun rights.

                The NRA has cost you at least one potential ally.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Road Scholar says:


                I get how you might feel that way, but I also know you are smart enough to understand that those people you describe are a very small % of gun owners AND while they may talk a lot, they are generally some of the most law-abiding people you will meet. I’m not sure how that leads you to abandoning support for gun rights all together.Report

              • pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                When people who own a lot of guns talk about how eager they to shoot Democrats, “some of the most law-abiding people you will meet” is a lot to take on faith.

                Sure, you can say, there are crazies everywhere, and shouldn’t be taken as representative.

                But if that sort of crazy person isn’t representative, why is he sitting on the NRA board?Report

              • InMD in reply to pillsy says:

                Because tribal group masturbation is a lot more gratifying than reason and principle, no matter the inherent indignity of it.Report

              • Pinky in reply to Road Scholar says:

                I’m not confident in the stats about this, but it looks like NRA membership has been trending up over the past 20 years. I’ll admit that, even though I’ve never owned a gun and don’t ever plan to, I nearly joined in the past month.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to Pinky says:

                If so, they are at odds with the percentages of households with guns (either declining or roughly flat, depending on who you listen to) or % of Americans that own guns (as in “This is my gun” not “There is a gun in my house that might belong to someone else”) which has been declining per about everyone.

                Then again, IIRC, the NRA gives away lifetime memberships willy nilly, which is how my FiL and my father are both “members”, despite neither actually joining and one having not owned a gun since the early 70s, and not having fired one since about 85.Report

          • Maribou in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

            @mike-dwyer I haven’t gone from neutral to anti-, but the NRA is sure as shootin’ (heh) a big reason why I’ve gone from pro- to neutral. Starting as early as the 2000s.

            And I am a gun owner. Still if I look at “NRA keeps NRAing” vs “keeping our guns”, the calculus gets more muddy every year.Report

            • Mike Dwyer in reply to Maribou says:


              Less than 10% of gun owners belong to the NRA. Of those, what % are the Hard Right folks that bother you? Half? So we’re talking less than 5% of all gun owners. If that is enough to swing your opinion from pro to neutral, I’m not sure how solid your support was before.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                @mike-dwyer They are dangerous, they are a toxic force, and they are dangerous in ways I had not, previous to moving to the US in the 1990s, imagined gun owners’ advocacy groups being dangerous. My previous conception of “gun owner advocacy” was based on stuff like Ducks Unlimited, for pete’s sake. (Yeah, I know they’re international. But in Canada you actually heard about them regularly. Here I only heard about them because I went to look them up and realized a) they’re international, b) they’re kinda doing the ‘gun porn on covers instead of shots of people actually hunting’ thing themselves now. Though not on the most recent cover. Maybe they had negative feedback. That would be great. )

                But it’s not the mere existence of the NRA that swayed me. It’s the fact that, in the face of the abysmal things they’ve been saying for nearly 20 years now (maybe longer! I wasn’t here!), gun owners – for the most part – have no interest in *opposing* the NRA, politically or rhetorically. And the 5 percent that you speculate aren’t the people who scare the f’ out of me, do nothing to oppose the 5 percent that you speculate are. So 95 percent of gun owners are largely content to let the NRA speak for them. There is no equally vocal, equally active, equally well-funded (because, yes, it matters to me where the money is and who it is coming from) movement for responsible gun ownership. Not politically, not working on a local level to educate kids and new gun owners. It’s a leadership void and the NRA are the only ones moving in that space.

                THAT is what scares the crap out of me and swings me from pro- to neutral. I mean, the NRA didn’t get me to move all the way to anti. They probably *can’t* get me to. But the near-silence and the lack of oppositional leadership to the utter ridiculousness of the NRA, as observed over 20 years and showing no sign of slowing? Yeah, that’s working on me. I haven’t changed that far yet. But I can see how I could.

                I know you wrote a whole post on a related topic…. is it so hard to believe you were right, maybe righter (or on a more accelerated schedule) than you thought?Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Maribou says:


                I think the reason why so many gun owners are not ‘actively’ opposing the NRA is because we have other battles to fight. As someone said above, the NRA is fighting a rear-guard action which allows me to focus on conservation, which is much more near-and-dear to my heart. The NRA also does a lot of good work on the gun safety/education front, but of course there’s no PR on that.

                And if we’re really being honest, the only gun violence the Left really cares about is mass shootings and to my knowledge the NRA has not opposed any legislation that I believe would reduce the number of mass shootings. So, what are we complaining about?

                I think it’s also important to note that the Left helped create the monster that is the NRA and now they are challenging gun owners to reduce its influence. Seems a bit unfair.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Mike Dwyer says:


                I was telling you my experience. My experience which includes a half-dozen gun suicides of people I cared about, and some threats of such that kept my mother in an abusive relationship for 25 years. Contra your claim that “the only gun violence the Left really cares about is mass shootings”. And, unlike you, I didn’t make partisan generalizations. I honestly don’t care what side of the blue/red fence the NRA sits on, that’s not why I find them terrifying and I think a lot of the stuff they are terrifying about is much less “partisan” than folks think it is. They give plenty of money to Democrats.

                You can take or leave this information, and the information (that I think you know) that the NRA has become the public face of gun ownership, but I think by leaving it, gun owners are making a tactical error. And I wasn’t talking only about legislation, but also about the kind of culture war stuff the NRA is so happy to do. Y’all, collectively (not saying you personally – you seem more conflicted than indifferent) who always have “other battles to fight” are letting them own that. Most people who don’t own guns, and increasingly a lot of people who do, but maybe don’t use them very much, see the NRA as “the public face of gun ownership”. And they see gun owners as “people who are happy to let the NRA be the public face of gun ownership”.

                Heck, as ambivalent as I am, part of the reason I say I own guns all the time, often in contexts where it risks making people worried about me in ways they wouldn’t be otherwise, is to *combat* that stereotype. I’m not anti- yet, as I said.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Maribou says:

                I think the problem is not only that the NRA is the 900 lbs gorilla, but that it will not tolerate any not as extreme as it is. Start a gun rights group that favors regulation the NRA disagrees with and the NRA will paint your group as carrying water for the Brady’s or Bloomberg (which will kill your fundraising before you can even get going).Report

              • Maribou in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                @oscar-gordon Yes, that is a big part of my concern as well, thank you for pointing it out.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Maribou says:

                Like, where is the nationally-powerful gun owner’s advocacy organization sticking up for Siwatu-Salama Ra? And lending their voice to a thousand other similar situations? *That* advocacy organization I could respect, possibly even in cases where I disagreed with it strongly.

                Even as I respect the ACLU (and sometimes give them money) even though they work to make things happen that I don’t like, all the damn time. Because they have *integrity*.

                I am not saying that you, or I, is the person to start such an organization. I’m not “blaming” gun owners, really, even.

                I’m saying that the fact that there is NOT such an organization, operating loudly and on the national level, and that no one has risen up to create one, says a lot to me about where America is in its relationship to guns and how much power the NRA holds.

                And all of that weighs too heavily on me for me to be pro-gun in this context.Report

              • InMD in reply to Maribou says:

                I was just ranting about the Siwatu-Salama Ra situation over the weekend. I find it endlessly frustrating that there’s no one sticking up for people in her situation. I’d probably become a member of the NRA if it took up a cause like that. She’s the epitome of why I think there should be a right for citizens to arm themselves and she’s in prison.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to InMD says:

                The NRA finally tweeted about it… but, as far as I can tell, that seems to be the limit of what they’ve done about it.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Maribou says:


                I guess I would paint the progression I am seeing like this:

                1) NRA does 8 good things for gun owners and 2 bad things
                2) Gun owners keep their mouths shut for various reasons
                3) NRA critics tell the mouth-shut folks that they should join them in criticizing the NRA
                4) Mouth-shut folks see a bit more nuance to the situation and feel obligated to point out that the NRA isn’t all bad (see 8 good things in #1)
                5) NRA critics choose to ignore the 8 good things and accuse the mouth-shut folks of passively endorsing bad behavior on the part of the NRA

                So…I can tell you that while there is definitely a lot of internal debate among gun owners I’m sure as hell not going to be provoked into participating in a civil war within the gun-owning community. I saw the same thing happen in the hunting community and it took us 20 years to get back to a point where debate is tolerated.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Can you point to 8 good things?Report

              • Maribou in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                @mike-dwyer I’m not trying to convince you to change your mind. I’m telling you what, again, *as a gun owner who used to be pro-gun before I moved to this country*, the situation looks like to me.

                Believe me, I tried to find some good in the NRA when I moved here. But even their so-called gun-safety etc programs – at least out here in Colorado – are basically excuses to propagandize their political point of view. Reasonable people (here) go to gun shops, etc., for their gun-safety and education work instead. Because Dragonman (a locally notorious gun shop owner) may be pretty damn eccentric by normal standards, but he’ll teach you how to take care of your guns and how to keep people safe without trying to make you part of his weird worldview. He gets the difference. The NRA (again, at least out here but also in their national media stuff) do not get the difference.

                The progression I see having happened is:
                1) NRA goes increasingly off-the-rails without losing influence
                2) People foam at the mouth about how crazy the NRA is (kind of dumbly but also kind of justifiably given that they’re going off the rails in really weird, scary ways)
                3) Gun owners feel (for a variety of reasons) that targeting the NRA is the same as targeting them, and hunker down
                4) NRA goes increasingly off-the-rails without losing influence
                repeat-ad-infinitum for 20 years

                Which isn’t so much a progression as a pretty darn terrifying positive feedback loop.

                Which is how I went from pro- to neutral.

                I guess the only thing I’m trying to convince you of is that the NRA has alienated more people than you realize, in response to your original claim that “I don’t know that there is anyone who would have normally been neutral that became anti-gun due to the NRA.” Now you do know, there are several people here who have said they did, whether you’re willing to accept their statements of having done so, or not. And I offered my experiences as someone who isn’t anti-gun, but who was actually *pro-gun*, not neutral, despite plenty of reasons a person might expect me to not be pro-gun – and is now well along a slide to anti-gun. If you’re just going to respond by telling me I wasn’t all that pro-gun to start with and/or arguing that we are mistaken in being alienated, I don’t think you’re getting the point. And you’re not going to change my (or others’) alienation by dismissing it, either. But perhaps next time you go to make a claim that you don’t know anyone who…. you’ll remember these conversations?

                That’s all I was shooting for.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Maribou says:


                If it will satisfy you, let me offer a mea culpa: Clearly the NRA has turned off some people here. We can agree to disagree on whether or not that anger is justified.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Also, probably because it is on my mind due to Em’s framing of the West Virginia coal situation plus the Schneiderman thing, the “8 good things and 2 bad things” framing really rubs me the wrong way and makes me feel more alienated, not less.

                Like, that’s the exact argument my mom used about my dad, “sure, some of what he does is bad, but he does so much good. You’re just not being *fair* to him.”

                It is very possible for the few bad things – even if they are few, which I am ceding for the sake of argument, not because I agree – to *outweigh* a million good things. It’s not a checklist. Not every good or bad thing has equal moral weight.

                If I could wave a magic wand on this topic, I’d make it so people would listen to their moral disgust at the NRA’s bad things, and not their list of justifications that somehow are supposed to balance out the awfulness. I’m sure people would, from there, take different actions depending on their other beliefs. But we’d be out of this weird push-pull distancing/defending thing.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Maribou says:


                Just so I am clear, the things I describe as ‘bad’ policy are often just a matter of perception. Every time there is a mass shooting certain people demand new laws. When no new laws happen, the NRA gets blamed. From my perspective, we don;t get new laws because legislation can’t prevent mass shootings. Period. But people need a scapegoat and the NRA makes a nice boogeyman.

                Beyond that, yes, they stir up the tactical crowd and military wannabees, but so what? As I stated above, those guys are actually some of the most law-abiding citizens we have. If they want to LARP about the zombie apocolypse and vote for Trump, I could really care less. They are not making us any less safe.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Mike Dwyer says:


                That is the crowd most likely to hit the phones and rally against any kind of registry, or waiting period, or TRO, or whatever ideas are put forth, good or bad. They are the ones who see Jade Helm and FEMA camps and whatever new ‘the government is gonna get you’ conspiracy is making the rounds.

                So they are seen as a boogeyman less because they are dangerous in a violent sense, and more because they stop the ball from moving anywhere.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Oscar Gordon says:


                Does the ball need to move in the direction being proposed? Calling them dangerous assumes that the proposals being rallied against would actually reduce gun violence and I just don’t see that. Plenty of gun owners limit their own rights every day in the form of taxation and hunting laws, not to mention many, many guns being bought through documented channels. But not getting onboard with kneejerk proposals in the wake of the next mass shootings seems like calmer heads, not blind obstructionism…doesn’t it?Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                To date, the ball has been mostly moving towards gun rights, and I’m generally OK with that. Heck, there’s plenty on the books that is flat out useless that I would like to see removed.

                But there are other ideas, be it TROs, or a registry, that could be useful for getting guns away from dangerous people, or tracking illegal sales. The problem is that the radical types, rather than taking the lead on crafting such ideas so they are useful AND protect rights, instead just scream SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED! and call it a day. Which is fine when you have sufficient majority to keep others from moving the ball.

                But the assumption that they will always have those numbers is a weak assumption, and at some point relatively soon I fully expect the gun control side will get to move the ball on their own terms, and that is not going to be good for gun owners across the board.

                The NRA used to be proactive in these things, they used to get into those committee meetings and use their clout to make sure their version of the regulation got voted on. They don’t seem interested in that much anymore.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Oscar Gordon says:


                I agree with your assesment but I think we’ve entered a stage where gun owners feel so persecuted that they can’t do anything but circle the wagons. I keep seeing parallels to the hunting community. We were so beat up in the late 90s and early 2000s that zero dissent was tolerated in our ranks. No debate on any topic. That has just started to thaw. I also don’t see mass shootings slowing down, so the persecutions will continue.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                How much of that feeling of persecution is because of actual malice towards gun owners, and how much is because the NRA/GOA have been stoking the rhetoric? Everyone starts hating on the NRA/GOA for being intransigent rather than taking leadership, and gun owners get painted in the process.

                I mean, yes, the AWB was a huge mis-step by the GC crowd, and few on the GC crowd have any solid ideas, but they have some kernels of good ideas, that the NRA could turn into meaningful regulation if it decided to take ownership and run with it.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Oscar Gordon says:


                I agree the NRA could take those ideas and turn them into something constructive BUT we’re unfortauntely locked into a stalemate. The non-gun owning public seems to know less and less about guns (or anything related to them) each year, which means worse and worse proposals, and it starts to feel like the NRA has become the enemy of my enemy that I must make peace with.

                I was also just reading a post from a prominent hunting podcaster yesterday and he was talking about how much it sucks when you want to talk about conservation issues but keep getting dragged back into the gun discussion because you use them in your sport. It’s almost akin to asking an Olympic skeet shooter for their take. We’re pretty divorced from the type of gun concerns that so many other people have.Report

              • J_A in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                @mike-dwyer ; @oscar-gordon

                The non-gun owning public seems to know less and less about guns (or anything related to them) each year, which means worse and worse proposals, and it starts to feel like the NRA has become the enemy of my enemy that I must make peace with.

                This is becoming another example of “Only the Left has Agency”

                There are, apparently two kinds of proposals:

                1- Proposals from non the gun-owning public, which are “worse and worse” very year

                2- Proposals from the gun-owning proposals which are ……? nonexisting

                We know there will be another shooting sooner rather than latter. Until then, plenty of toddlers a will accidentally hurt themselves or others, plenty of “never reported as stolen” guns will be found out in gangs’ hands, etc.

                And we also know that no single reasonable proposal will be put forward by the representatives of the gun-owning public. And the non gun-owning public will get more frustrated, and bring forth worse and worse proposals.

                And one day, politicians will discover that the non gun-owning public is a more important -for them- constituency, and they will quickly approve the really bad proposals…..

                …because they will be the only proposals, because …”Only the Left has Agency”Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to J_A says:


                Exactly my point. The NRA has agency and is choosing not to exercise it in a constructive manner. The membership has agency and is choosing not to exercise it at all to influence the direction of the NRA.

                If the tacticool types truly are a minority & don’t speak for the bulk of NRA members and gun owners, then that majority needs to get active and stop letting the minority run the show.

                PS the same can be said of the gun control side allowing their extremists control their messaging.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to J_A says:

                @j_a @oscar-gordon

                When people complain that the NRA isn’t participating in the discussion what is really being said is that they think we have a gun problem and we need new/reformed gun laws to stop it. And if the NRA doesn’t participate, someone like Sam would say they are endorsing the murder of children (or some other kind of hyperbole). The problem is, I’m not even remotely convinced we have an actual gun problem in the U.S. What we do have is a bunch of other cultural and systemic problems that lead to violence, and guns are the easiest tool to use.

                For the sake of discussion, let’s say we take away guns completely. Does that change things? I don’t think it does. Vehicles are increasingly being used in mass killings.

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                So, let’s say the NRA proposed a bunch of new laws aimed at reducing violence. Legalizing drugs to reduce gang crimes. Banning teens from the internet to reduce bullying. Giving psychiatrists and therapists legal cover to report patients. Etc, etc. Nothing actually related to guns themselves. Don’t they get slammed for shifting the focus, even though those suggestions are c;oser to root cause that a universal registry or limits on magazine capacity? So it kind of seems they are in an unwinnable position. A lot of people are convinced guns are the problems, even when they probably aren’t. If the NRA doesn’t play along with pointless regs though, they are the bad guys. Report

              • pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:


                And if the NRA doesn’t participate, someone like Sam would say they are endorsing the murder of children (or some other kind of hyperbole).

                Yeah, it’s incredibly unfair. The NRA doesn’t endorse the murder of children, they just endorse shooting Democrats like coyotes.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

                Really? One board member does not an organization make.Report

              • pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Oh, OK. Only one member of the NRA board endorses murdering Democrats with guns, so clearly people on the left are being completely unreasonable when object that the NRA doesn’t think people being murdered with guns is a problem.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

                That’s honestly a yawner for me. One prominent person from an organization says something dumb and we assume that is an endorsement from the entire organization? That sounds more like recreational outrage than anything else.Report

              • pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                I assume that if the entire organization didn’t find Nugent’s comments acceptable, they would have removed him from the board.

                But yeah, keep on wondering why the Left hates the NRA, and the gun culture it represents to people who don’t have personal contact with it. It’s a complete mystery given the way the organization is clearly run by reasonable, decent people who we’re just offended by for completely irrational reasons.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:


                I tend to feel like part of being an adult is the ability to look past unsurprising comments from sensationalist people and actually focus on issues themselves. The NRA is clearly losing the PR battle but that doesn’t mean I am obligated to critique their legislative priorities. We can certainly all point to politicians we have endorsed who either said problematic things, have engaged in questionable behavior or all of the above. The NRA has not supported any legislation I am opposed to, nor have they opposed any legislation I strongly support. As I stated earlier, they may be the necessary evil I have to endure to allow me to focus on other things.Report

              • pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                I tend to feel like part of being an adult is the ability to look past unsurprising comments from sensationalist people and actually focus on issues themselves.

                As always, everything is the fault of the Left, because we’re the only ones who have to live up to any expectations. We aren’t being adults because we notice when a board member of the premier organization devoted to the interests of (allegedly) law-abiding gun owners enthuses about murder.

                At the same time we’re being unreasonable to expect that the leadership of the NRA behave like adults by not enthusing about murder, and ensuring that officials in that organization who do enthuse about murder don’t remain officials for long.

                And if those people on the Left get the wrong idea about how damn responsible and law abiding gun owners are, well, it’s their fault for… what, not ignoring the NRA?Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

                As always, everything is the fault of the Left, because we’re the only ones who have to live up to any expectations.

                @pillsy If it makes you feel any better, the Left hasn’t lived up to my expectations for at least 20 years. I certainly don’t hold them to a higher standard.

                I also think it’s important to clarify here: Are you saying that your perception of the NRA if formed by the comments from Ted Nugent or is this a more general assesment of the less-policy-aware public?Report

              • pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                I believe that Nugent’s statements are very much in line with their public relations strategy of relentlessly insulting anyone who isn’t on the Right, and what he’s saying is just a quite-parts-loud version of Dana Loesch’s “fist of truth” stuff for NRATV (which is very much an official message).

                Now, their policy approach is not obviously bankrupt the way their public relations strategy is [1], and I really can’t blame Sam et al. for looking at them and the way they conduct themselves and come to the conclusion that they’re fundamentally depraved people who love violence. Because, well, they sure talk that way.

                Now, even fundamentally depraved people who love violence can be right about gun control, but it’s not exactly the way to bet.

                [1] But it’s also not simply rejecting gun regulations, given their extreme enthusiasm for things like Stand Your Ground laws.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                It doesn’t much matter that it is a yawner for YOU if the question is why do opponents have the issues they have.Report

              • J_A in reply to Mike Dwyer says:


                I feel that whenever we talk about measures that would reduce gun deaths you go for the -I agree- mostly useless proposals- , argue that they are indeed, useless, and therefore, nothing can -or should- be done.

                By doing that you ignore several -probably good- proposals that could have a significant impact in the aggregate on gun violence. They would not stop the Parkland Massacre, or the Pulse Massacre, but would more than nibble the daily body count of gun-related deaths and accidents, such as:

                1- Universal registration of guns- you know, like cars
                2- Mandatory liability insurance
                3- If you lose your gun, or sell your gun, you have five working days to notify XXXX gun is no longer in your possession. Failure to do so, you are still responsible for it. If the gun appears in the hands of a bad guy, while still registered to you well you are guilty of gross negligence.

                You might think the above are bad, bad, bad proposals from someone who doesn’t own a gun, but I’d appreciate an explanation of why none of this can be done, according to the NRA, or to you?

                As an aside, almost every single gun used in crimes in the USA started its career as a gun legitimately bought at a store. And yet, thousands of those mysteriously appear in the hands of criminals every year. Either they are knowingly sold to criminals, or there’s massive burglary combined with a “why would I report my gun was stolen and is now in the hands of criminals”.

                So, no, not only criminals don’t follow gun laws, many gun owners/sellers apparently don’t, eitherReport

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to J_A says:


                It’s not that those proposals have no value but I don’t believe in top-down reform. My whole day job is built around root-cause corrective action. The root cause of gun violence is not guns. But that’s an easier conversation for people to have because A) Less and less people actually own guns and B) Dealing with the actual root cause requires a lot more work.

                So yeah, we could all join hands and call for universal background checks, etc and yes, that might put a dent in gun crime, but it’s a band-aid, not a solution. And honestly for me, I see gun crime, specifically mass-shootings, as one symptom of a larger disease. I see other symptoms of that same disease every day. Our workforce is crumbling. Many of our youths seem woefully prepared for adulthood. Adult men seem to be seething with rage. We’re losing our connection with each other. I’m DEEPLY concerned about all of this. Talking about gun law band-aids instead of having tough decisions about our society itself is missing the ball completely IMO.Report

              • J_A in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                I’m sorry @mike-dwyer , but I fail to follow you here. Let me explain:

                1 – You don’t believe in top-down reform, but you also don’t believe a grass-roots organization like the NRA should propose reasonable policies on gun management. You’d rather that all proposals come from the top, and basically reflecting the Anti side of the debate. Proposals that then can be ignored as urrealistic, or top-down.

                2- You don’t believe in top-down reform, but you don’t seem to believe making a dent at gun violence is a worthy objective, in itself and would much rather focus your energy on “having tough decisions about our society itself “. Who is going to debate, decide, and implement these tough decisions?

                3- So while we wait for a mechanism to bubble up, bottom-up, to address the tough decisions, do we need to do anything about the gradual improvement? Or just refuse to do anything because it’s not bottom-up enough or grand enough?

                As an aside, I’m a bit disappointed you didn’t comment on the fact that (almost) all illegal guns started their life as legal guns, until a law-obeying gun owner decided to ignore the lawsReport

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to J_A says:


                If we support any restrictions on guns that are aimed to prevent violence…and that violence isn’t reduced…do you think anyone on the Left will support rolling back those restrictions? No. They will say we didn’t go far enough. And I firmly believe those restrictions will fail because they do not address systemic root cause.

                It sounds like you are saying that the anti- crowd is going to keep proposing crap solutions so the only sensible thing to do is to counter with less-crap solutions from the pro- side…but again…that assumes guns are the problem. If the pro- side counters with some kind of legislation we can tolerate, isn’t that really just giving the anti- crowd what they want? We give a little and they can then repeat the same exercise again down the road.

                Let me put this another way: A business technique I learned long ago is that when you want someone to accept your proposed solution to a problem, you give them three options. The first two should be obviously wrong and the third one is the one you want them to take. A smart manager will select the good option and so you get what you want, and he still feels like he had a choice. It really feels like that is what you are advancing here. You all want new gun laws and we can either create them ourselves or you will keep pushing for them yourselves. Either way, the anti- crowd gets something and pro- crowd gave somenthing up. You aren’t even entertaining an option where gun owners don’t get new regulations, are you?Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                I will also add that Progressivism (the kind I subscribe to not the synonym for liberalism that is popular today) attempted to address societal ills at the ground level. They wanted to reform society itself, not apply band-aids. I would 100% get onboard with any attempt to do that.Report

              • J_A in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                See where we disagree is that I believe that reducing the availability of guns to criminals by attaching liability to the last legal owner of that gun (a subject you still don’t address) will if fact have a measurable impact in reducing gun related deaths in general even if they won’t impact future Parklands, and you apparently believe there will be no impact at all and thus people will ask for bigger measures

                An alternative explanation is that you do believe such a measure will have a measurable positive effect, and you are worried it will only give gun opponents ammunition (pun intended) for going for stronger measures.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to J_A says:


                There has been insufficient enforcement of trafficking laws for a long time (I was having the same arguments with people about this during the Clinton years). Rather than proposing new legislation, isn’t it a better idea to provide adequate funding for the laws already on the books? This is where I think liberals just always think the right solution is a new piece of legislation away.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                isn’t it a better idea to provide adequate funding for the laws already on the books

                You need to show that this is a funding issue, rather than a priority issue.Report

              • Link

                “There are other administrative issues: Funding has been relatively flat, and the agency has roughly the same number of agents today as it did a decade ago.”

                To be certain, lack of priorities is also an issue.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                To be fair, the BATFE brought a lot of that on themselves for behaving like a rogue LEA for a long time. There have been a lot of calls to dissolve the agency and move it’s duties and budgets to the FBI, which tends to have a more responsible culture.Report

              • pillsy in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                The NRA has a pretty long history of opposing proposals to scrap the BATFE (which totally sucks and deserves to go).

                In general, their exhortations that we should enforcing laws already on the books rings hollow.Report

              • J_A in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Again, I am proposing a bottom-up solution, which you say you support

                If everyone has to have liability insurance to own a gun (you know, like a car), and insurance companies start paying damages to victims of improperly guarded guns, gun owners will have a great incentive to actually take care of their guns, rather than have to rely on top-down enforcement and prosecution, which is what you are apparently propossingReport

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to J_A says:


                It’s pretty widely accepted that liability insurance is intended to place an additional financial burden on gun owners, thus reducing ownership rates. I don’t even remotely consider this a bottom-up proposal. It does nothing to address the reasons why people want stolen guns in the first place.Report

              • J_A in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                It does nothing to address the reasons why people want stolen guns in the first place.

                It does nothing to reduce the reasons why people want to rob or murder other people, for sure. It would go a long way to make sure the supply of stolen guns go down

                It’s pretty widely accepted that liability insurance is intended to place an additional financial burden on gun owners

                Is not widely accepted, though it might be widely repeated. After all, if gun owners are above average law-abiding people, which handle their guns carefully and safely, there shouldn’t be any reason why there would be any significant liability payouts.

                …thus reducing ownership rates

                … and we get to the crux of the matter. The -IMHO- real mission of the NRA is not to protect gun owners, it is to protect gun sales. Including gun sales that will go into the illegal market. Hence the opposition to anything that reduces the flow of guns from manufacturers to end customers, including criminals.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to J_A says:


                I don’t think you’re following what I mean by ‘ownership rates’. What I mean is, the goal of GC folks is to make gun ownership more difficult in whatever way they can, thus hoping many people will opt out. I’m not talking about reducing gun sales. I’m talking about people selling their guns.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                It is widely believed by GC activists that requiring liability insurance on firearms will increase the cost of ownership. Their fantasies, however, consistently fail to have any basis in fact. I’ve gotten many quotes from insurance companies with regard to large balloon policies to cover myself for accidents or intentional (but justified) use of a firearm, and a $500K balloon bumped my home owners policy up a whole $50/yr (on average).

                That’s the cost of a box of ammo. Per year.Report

              • Em Carpenter in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Band-aids aren’t stitches, but they do stop the bleeding.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Mike Dwyer says:


                Most mass killers are ‘known’ as volatile to family and/or law enforcement before they finally pop. Some thing like a Firearm RO can give law enforcement a tool to intervene before a person starts killing. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than what we have now.

                And a registry can go a long way toward stopping new firearms from entering the black market (along with liability requirements).

                I DO NOT trust the left/GCs to craft such things with the care necessary to protect gun owners rights, but no one else is even entertaining those ideas in a responsible way. And such changes are coming, whether we like it or not. We can either take control of those changes, or be ground under them.Report

              • pillsy in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                I DO NOT trust the left/GCs to craft such things with the care necessary to protect gun owners rights, but no one else is even entertaining those ideas in a responsible way.

                I mean, I am the Left, but the Left has few gun owners (I’m not one), and even if we try to get it right we’re unlikely to actually do so if gun owners have no input into the process.

                But try to say that in leftward spaces and people think you’re (a) talking about the NRA and (b) that the NRA are a bunch of total shitheads, and neither reaction is entirely unfair.Report

              • Road Scholar in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                I have. Do you remember my F.O.R.T. proposal? Combined with an endorsement on your DL after a one-time background check that clears you to purchase firearms at your leisure and can only be revoked by judicial decree (and is appealable and reversible)?Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Road Scholar says:

                My apologies, but I don’t. Can you link to it?Report

              • Road Scholar in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                I think it was something I laid out in a comment when we had the gun symposium a few years back. I could try to work it up as a GP if you’re interested I suppose.Report

              • veronica d in reply to Oscar Gordon says:


                I DO NOT trust the left/GCs to craft such things with the care necessary to protect gun owners rights, but no one else is even entertaining those ideas in a responsible way. And such changes are coming, whether we like it or not. We can either take control of those changes, or be ground under them.


                The fact is, I wouldn’t want to write such laws. I want such laws to exist, but I wouldn’t trust myself to see all the edge cases and unintended consequences. I simply don’t know enough.

                And actually, I’ve learned this kind of humility by being transgender, and getting a front row seat regarding how terribly stupid, stubborn, and awful most cis people are when it comes to transgender issues. They’re ignorant as fuck, clumsy, and harmful. But more, they don’t even want to know how ignorant they are. They don’t care if they cause harm.

                So I assume I must be ignorant also, but unlike the broad cisgender public, I don’t want to cause harm.

                But dammit guns — those who are not ignorant need to fucking do something.

                Or else we will. Eventually.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                ” but so what?”

                @mike-dwyer You yourself wrote a whole post about some pretty important “so what”s … that’s what I find so baffling about your previous claims.

                And yes, I accept your mea culpa re: your original statement. Though generally one doesn’t append “If it will satisfy you,” to mea culpas.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Maribou says:

                Did you write a whole post? Maybe you didn’t and I’m misremembering. But you have certainly addressed them at times. In depth.Report

              • J_A in reply to Mike Dwyer says:


                The NRA also does a lot of good work on the gun safety/education front, but of course there’s no PR on that.

                Why isn’t there PR on that? What is stopping the NRA to run TV ads campaign describing all their good work and trying to change their image?

                The leadership has decided that, for tactical reasons, the best way to achieve their objectives is to raise up the confrontation.

                Which makes me especulate what their objectives are. To the casual observer it doesn’t seem the objectives include fostering a bigger acceptance of guns in the community.Report

              • bookdragon in reply to J_A says:

                Amen and amen.

                Once upon a time, way back when I supported the NRA, they actually did. But since they went full-bore socon culture war and started elevating nutjubs (c.f. Ted Nugent) and fear-mongering (c.f. Dana Loesch) I want nothing to do with them.

                The NRA has not turned me anti-gun*, but they have turned me anti-NRA. And I notice among teens my kids’ age, even among those whose parents have guns, the NRA is starting to be viewed the way my generation came to view the Tobacco Institute. So, imho, gun owners who allow the NRA to be the public face of gun ownership – and reflexively defend them and bristle at any criticism – are digging their own grave.

                * Though I’m sure the NRA would define my views on comprehensive background checks and requiring people to show they have some clue about the rules of gun safety and how to properly use a weapon before they can walk out of Walmart with an AR-15 to be horribly anti-gunReport

    • Kolohe in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      I didn’t realize until reading this article that North isn’t replacing LaPierre.Report

  2. Jaybird says:

    Enough with getting arms for hostages, now we need to get arms for the American people!

    send tweetReport

  3. Kolohe says:

    The NRA has an amazing amount of directorsReport

  4. Damon says:


    The previous guy was the CEO of a company. Frankly, I only recognized his name since it was well know in the industry–I don’t even recall it now.

    I’ve encountered some of those gun “crazies”. Spend any amount of time on the range and you will to. They seem no more different that some on the other side. You know, those guys who think that a marxist utopia wouldn’t end up with their own asses in a shallow grave. But I digress….

    Like was said above–figurehead. I’d prefer it not be North, but watcha gonna do?Report

  5. Rufus F. says:

    You know, at some point, one of these groups is just going to nominate a box of dog turds with the argument that “it might not do much, but it’ll drive them liberals crazy!”Report

  6. Jesse says:

    To steal a line from the Internet, “Russian-backed terror group selects noted international arms smuggler as its new President.”Report

  7. pillsy says:

    So glad the NRA isn’t run by irredeemable fucksmears who earn every scintilla of scorn the Left heaps on them and then some.

    “They’re not activists—this is civil terrorism. This is the kind of thing that’s never been seen against a civil rights organization in America,” Oliver North told the Washington Times. “You go back to the terrible days of Jim Crow and those kinds of things—even there you didn’t have this kind of thing.”