NRA Board Member Duane Liptak: An Open Letter

By Bob Campbell published on in News

Duane Liptak is a NRA board member and Executive Vice President of Magpul. Recently, he penned an open letter on the importance of the midterm elections and the potential affect the outcome may have on the fight for our gun rights. It is not only worth a read, it is worthy of being read and shared. Although Liptak is a board member of the NRA, his message is pro gun, period. The Second Amendment is not a red or blue issue. However, the difference of whether we expand our rights to include the true meaning of the Second Amendment or continue to fight as the anti-gunners chip away at our rights hangs in the balance.

Pile of NRA Stand and Fight hats

The best way to show your support, is to show your support…

I’ve just completed some meetings and other duties with the NRA, and I wanted to get some of these thoughts out there, in case anyone finds them useful. There is a lot of work going on, and I’ve never been so encouraged by the efforts I’m seeing move forward. As a disclaimer, these opinions are mine, personally, and I do not speak for the NRA or anyone else in this statement. This is long, and potentially a bit repetitive on points of significance, but I felt it important to say.

We are nearing midterm election time, and a lot is at stake. I don’t have any particular love for many of the positions of either of the two major parties, but the reality is that the Democrat side is embracing socialism and statist oppression so openly that it is hard to ignore the potential consequences of Democrat legislative control of either chamber at the federal level and losing ground in the states. The candidates in the NY State AG race are actually arguing over who will more voraciously wield the power of the state in trying to drive the NRA out of business to silence the voice of their political opposition. We have some favorable odds to retain a Republican U.S. Senate just with the luck of the draw with the seats that are up, but we still need good turnout to retain it. Dems only need to gain about 24 seats to flip the House, and there are between 65 and 75 or so contested races that are within a few points, nationwide. It’s close. In addition, Governorships and legislative races at the state level could affect redistricting that would make it very hard to have anything other than a Democrat majority in the House for years to come, so those races are just as critical.

Personally, I am something of a gun rights single issue voter, in that regardless of the merits of any other positions of a candidate, I weigh support for 2A rights as a prerequisite before even looking at other issues, and most of my friends and associates fall in that category as well. I believe those rights to be too important to do otherwise, especially at this time in world and national events. Fortunately, a candidate’s stance on gun rights usually follows along with many of the other positions that are appealing to me as well, and if I can find a pro-gun, fiscally conservative, social libertarian, then I’m fairly happy. If you fall in that category of voter and are disappointed that we’ve achieved no forward legislative progress in the past two years of a Republican-held House and Senate on gun rights, I’m with you. But, I also spend enough time lobbying and working with lobbying efforts to understand that our simple majority by party is not a majority on many issues that I hold dear. Personally, I’d love to see the NFA gutted, or at the very least, Hughes repealed and silencers and SBR/SBS completely removed from NFA purview, nationwide no-permit carry, as well as many other positions that might be considered “extreme” by anyone who doesn’t understand or love freedom quite so much, or understand that these measures actually increase the safety of our country. On the side of “just give us a common sense inch,” I’d love to see basic nationwide reciprocity passed without poisoned amendments, and that shouldn’t be hard—one would think. (That one is the fault of current Senate leadership for not having the fortitude to bring it to a vote.)

NRAStandAndFight.com

NRA Stand and Fight

The unfortunate reality is that we were actually dangerously close to additional ANTI-gun legislation this year on rate accelerating devices and “bump stocks” that could have effectively banned all replacement triggers that was steamrolling toward the legislative floor and had enough bipartisan support in both houses to pass due to the emotion of the moment and not actually understanding what the legislation actually was banning—a common theme. There were some even worse bills on the table including the possibility of another national AWB this year, and the lack of understanding of what printed firearms were all about almost ended up with legislation banning those, with potential far-reaching second and third order effects from that, as well. Without the NRA, these measures likely would have passed. That’s a fact, and I dealt with it through our Magpul lobbyists, as well. It was a steamroller, and disaster was very narrowly averted. Yes, I’m not happy that it was even close, and I’m certainly not happy with some of the other legislative shenanigans in other areas, but the alternative would be far worse with Dem control of the legislature and the committee chairs, even if we had the hope of a Presidential veto to hold the line.

One thing we are winning at, and that has potentially saved the Republic in my eyes, is in judicial appointments. We are about to finally have an actual solid 5/4 court on the basic individual right to own a firearm in the U.S. Supreme Court (USSC). We have been extremely close on that in previous decisions. We are likely not ever going to turn NY, CA, NJ, and other liberal enclaves legislatively back to more firearms freedoms, so the path to that is through the courts, and we could potentially get AWBs, magazine restrictions, etc., declared unconstitutional with the right court composition and granting cert to the right cases. We will need the USSC and Trump’s appointees to do that, and in the background, Trump and the Senate have confirmed 60 constitutionalist-leaning judges in federal courts across the country, changing the balance in two district courts, with 40 more appointments planned before the midterm and another 40 or so after. This is important to the fight for ALL freedom with more judges who interpret the constitution rather than attempt to legislate statist ideals from the bench. If we had lost the 2016 Presidential election to the Dems, this option would be dead, and we would potentially have the basic individual right to own a firearm (incorrectly and unconstitutionally) struck down by the courts. Like Trump or not, without him being the one making appointments right now, the Second Amendment may have died in this decade.

So, we need a strong showing this fall to keep, and ideally, expand control of both chambers. Please get out and do your part, and encourage others to do the same. The anti-freedom groups are motivated, organized, and well-funded. Bloomberg has pledged to spend $80 Million in house races alone.

Second Amendment Foundation logo and address

Just as a reminder, as they are sometimes bad at talking about things like this effectively, we likely would have had some of the previously mentioned negative legislation passed were it not for the NRA, and we certainly would have ZERO chance of having any positive legislation without them. I know it’s fashionable these days to accuse the NRA of not being “hard core” enough, and yep, some of the statements have left me a little disappointed. Folks need to understand that there are plenty of people within the organization and staff that are very aligned with my viewpoints. There just isn’t the political possibility of achieving those things right now, and that’s a real, and unfortunate, fact. We were very close to having the votes for HPA passage, although not many of our elected officials want to take that up right now, and we are still very close to national reciprocity passage, but the legislative vote numbers on repealing NFA, ditching all provisions of GCA ‘68, repealing Hughes, etc., aren’t even close. That’s unfortunately not something we can change without changing the entire political and public opinion landscape right now—which will take some time, and a lot of effort from all of us. We all need to work toward that.

Please understand that “taking a hard line, no compromise stance” publicly is great for fund raising and grass roots activation—and the goals behind the scenes can be exactly those no compromise positions, as they are in the offices of the NRA—but if a legislator doesn’t believe it’s in his or his constituents’ best interests or will keep in office to support something… your stance isn’t going to sway him. The facts may… but they also may not. That’s the wonderful thing about lobbying—some of the folks you are talking to couldn’t care less about the facts. That’s right… some don’t care. At all. Show them a 4-foot pile of evidence that their anti-gun or even lukewarm stance on guns is detrimental in every measurable way, and they still might not care. Some of them only care about how things poll for their next election, and that’s it. Republicans in purple districts are hard to get to support pro-gun measures sometimes because they know it will potentially lose them their seat to a Democrat challenger—and there may be no better candidate in that district that has any chance whatsoever of beating a Democrat challenger, so you’re stuck with either the soft R or the hard D. House and Senate leadership don’t want to tackle issues like that that may lose them control of their chamber due to the lost seats, and thus the ability to control the legislative agenda at all, plus the loss of the ability to support judicial appointments, pass budgets, etc., which is worse for the entire country, and can immediately undo anything that they DO pass. It’s a messy, flawed system. But, it’s what we’ve got to navigate. When you demand a mile and refuse to take a foot when one is offered, you’re not going to move forward in this environment. All or nothing nearly guarantees that we get nothing. The antis actually LOVE it when we draw lines in the sand that prevent any progress at all for our side, and LOVE it when we are bickering among ourselves as to who is signalling more 2A virtue.

The reality is that the NRA is your only real viable voice in the fight for gun rights in these circles. Other gun groups are great at promoting “hard line” positions publicly—and BZ for them doing so— because they aren’t risking policy achievement by doing it, as they don’t have the horsepower to even be included. They publicly state a hard line position, file a few amicus briefs maybe, send out some emails to fire up the grassroots base (which actually is an important factor) and they cash your check. I’m not saying don’t support them, because that grassroots activation is effective, as are some of the legal efforts! We need their efforts, also. The NRA, however, actually gives you a voice in this jacked up circus of the DC beltway, in the best way to actually influence policy—because they actually have a seat at the table. Unfortunately, sometimes that requires, at least to all public appearances, taking a certain position in order to achieve certain ends. Believe me when I tell you that it’s extremely frustrating to many of the staff to have to do this, just as much as it is for many members to see it. This is how change is effectively achieved, though, when larger movements are impossible. Everytown and other anti-freedom groups absolutely want all guns banned, period, and this has been leaked or reported on in one form or another for some time. But, in most cases, their public positions are for “common sense safety measures” and “reasonable restrictions,” and having the tactical patience to take our freedoms an inch at a time helps them to get to where they want to go. We have to be willing to win our freedoms back in the same way from a legislative perspective while we also charge forward with the legal strategy that may transform the national landscape for the better in a far more immediate fashion if we can get enough people on the bench that actually believe in the founding documents of our nation.

That legal fight is what can’t be forgotten. Other groups, like FPC, etc., do some great work, as well, but the legal battlefield on which the NRA plays is incredibly significant. Heller and MacDonald, getting the anti-gun ballot measures stricken from the Oregon ballots, the cases which have expanded concealed carry around the nation, injunctions in CA, ad nauseum—all of these had the hand of the NRA, and with the change in judicial landscape, more will come. The NRA is currently fighting what is potentially one of the most important First Amendment legal battles in our nation’s history, fighting a State supported effort to drive an advocacy out of business because of its beliefs, and the NRA will prevail. Even the ACLU has backed the NRA in this effort, as it’s SO critical to preserving freedom of speech and preventing government from killing opposition using the power of office. This case may have far reaching effects on government censorship that affects the very ability to speak out in opposition of government at all, and could potentially be used to shut down the entire firearms industry by denying basic business services, should we lose.

Join or Donate to the NRA Today

Join or Donate to the NRA Today

Want the NRA to be able to get more done? Want things to actually get passed? Want to get more real pro-gun legislators elected? The way to achieve that is with numbers. The NRA is at its highest membership numbers, ever, but there are around 6 Million NRA members and over 100 Million U.S. gun owners—conservatively. If just another 5 percent of U.S. gun owners were members, the ability to influence policy would improve significantly. As powerful as 6 million members can be, a lobby with the power of 10 or 12 million members is so significant as to not be able to be ignored. The NRA is currently under attack, because the anti-freedom opposition knows that the NRA membership can affect elections. The enemies of freedom are doing everything they can to force the NRA to the sidelines in this midterm, because they know the effect the NRA can have.

What can you do? First, become a member of the NRA. Become a five-year or life member if you are already an annual member, so you can vote in the board elections, also. Then encourage family, friends, neighbors, people you see at the range, co-workers, etc., to also become members. With membership, we have more say on the national stage. Join other groups you believe in, as well. Support other efforts, or start one yourself. But…it doesn’t cost much to be an NRA member, and just the publications and other benefits make it worthwhile as a gun owner, let alone the cause you are supporting. So, do that first.

Then, become active this fall. Vote. Don’t be apathetic, even in races where you think we’ve got an easy victory. Every vote does count, and the enemy is motivated. Encourage others to vote. Help to educate others on the issues. Support a candidate if you can. This could potentially be one of the most important elections in the history of our nation, and it is absolutely imperative that we all do our part to promote a victory for freedom.

What action will you take to secure our gun rights in the midterm election? Do your state’s senators and representatives have a pro gun or anti gun record? Share your answers in the comment section.

Tags: , , ,

Trackback from your site.

The mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, "The Shooter's Log," is to provide information-not opinions-to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (39)

  • Retired Navy Spook

    |

    If the Democrats win back the House in November things could get very ugly, but to say that the 2nd Amendment will be gone in a decade presupposes some things that are just not going to happen. Starting with its next term in October, the Supreme Court is not likely to rule in favor of the gun control nuts, and the GOP is not only likely to hold on to the Senate, but could very well pick up a few seats. But, at the end of the day the only way the 2nd Amendment ceases to exist is if it’s repealed by Constitutional Amendment. That requires a 2/3 vote of Congress plus a 3/4 vote of the states. Not gonna happen! And if a Democrat Congress arbitrarily decides to just ban all guns, I don’t think 100 million gun owners are going to just throw up their hands and say, OK, we give up.

    Reply

  • cath8r

    |

    Lifetime member here. I’m not seeing anything in this article that shows what rights the NRA has given away. It’s like, “We will give a little now, then come back later and win it back.” Chris Cox caved under pressure and said that bump stocks needed to be reviewed…and look at the mess that has caused. Bump stocks were deemed legal by the ATF, and now they are trying to say that a bump stock is a machine gun. Any opposition to their stance on the matter results in a “we disagree” response and that’s the end of it. Nice job, Chris. And here’s another issue I have….as an example, we all get emails that say that the NRA “Is just $25,000 away from its goal….”. LaPierre makes 4 million dollars a year. Is there some reason why HE can’t chip that 25K into the pot? Why are you asking US to do it? If you are that close to a goal, why are you begging us for money when Wayne has millions, millions that WE gave to him?

    Reply

  • Rik Goodell

    |

    Division among the ranks is the strength sapper of any movement and the quiet effective weapon of the opposition. Whether it be a patriotic war or achivement of family goals a separated force is a weakened force. “United We Stand” is a cry dating to ancient times that, for our purposes, might be better stated, “United We Win”. When will we learn the truth of it?

    Listen to us. We are like children on the playground who will take our ball and go home unless everyone plays our exact way. So we go home proud of our stance but nobody, including ourselves, gets to play ball.

    For years I voted libertarian and felt good about upholding my principles. One day I came, grudgingly, to accept that our government, on every level is a game of compromise and if I wanted to realize an inch of gain I would have to (not in my individual speech nor in my heart but in my public action and financial efforts) settle for a slice of pie rather than no pie at all. It doesn’t always swallow well but the body is actually being nourished rather than being starved on pride and principle.

    I remain an idealist at heart and still persist in my hardline, strict constitutional position when in discussions or arguments but I have finally endured enough years of loss and failure that I have joined the realists when in the public forums.

    Compromise feels a lot like surrender and that is no more palatable to me than to many of you yet it is the hand we are dealt. We must Unite, Improvise and Adapt if we are to Overcome.

    Reply

    • cath8r

      |

      Do you know why compromise feels like surrender? Because IT IS SURRENDER. It’s not a “hand you are dealt,” it’s a position you accept. Why take a “hardline, strict constitutional position” when you talk, but compromise when crap hits the fan? How does that translate into overcoming anything?

      Reply

  • Chuck Cochran

    |

    Life member here, and I agree with most of the points in your letter. I take the hard stance, in that we have given much more ground than we’ve ever received, and that needs to stop. I say no to any further infringements. I say no to any more knee jerk legislation that serves no useful purpose but infringement. I say no to allowing the ATF to dictate their definitions as legislation that we’re forced to accept. They’ve exceeded their mandate many times over.

    Reply

  • Kirk B Mullins

    |

    The NRA does not need a new platform to toot it’s own horn, which is all I out of this article.Also, I believe the NRA is taking more credit for things that were not solely theirs to claim. I am a Life Member of the NRA. I have major issues with their willingness compromise on our rights. Like supporting Kavanaugh for the SCOTUS. I look at the man & see a crook. The NRA applauds him. His stance on our other rights, the 4th in particular make him a very poor choice. The NRA should not only be defending our individual right to bear arms. It should be defending our collective right of a well regulated militia and our other rights. I believe with a well regulated militia we would not be dealing with the anti-gun establishment because the militia would have a call to arms anytime the legislatures of our state & federal governments tried to trample on any of our rights. The main reason for the 2nd Amendment is to prevent the government from becoming tyrannical. So in this respect we have all failed. So NRA, stop tooting your horn, look at your short comings & work at improving them. You lack the foresight to embrace the well regulated militia as the more important part of the 2nd Amendment. Because of this we are constantly having to keep fighting for our gun rights as well as our other rights.

    Reply

  • Karl

    |

    I ALSO WILL NOT FINANCIALLY SUPPORT THE NRA UNTIL THEIR EXECUTIVES TAKE SIGNIFICANT PAY/BENEFIT CUTS.PAYING EXECUTIVES $250,000/YEAR IS OUT OF LINE AND OBSCENE.THE AVERAGE NRA MEMBER MAKES FAR LESS.
    I AM BEING SCREWED BY NY’S [UN]SAFE ACT AND THE NRA HAS BEEN DERELICT IN OUR ATTEMPTS TO REVOKE OR RESTRICT THAT TYRANNY.

    Reply

    • CinciJim

      |

      Just a curiosity, Karl; do you support the NFL, or for that matter, any of the major sports organizations? Now there is where I see “obscene” pay scales.

      What about any of your elected government officials? Actually, you are supporting them (with your taxes) whether you agree with them and their platforms, or not.

      Do you belong to a labor union? If so, here’s another area where you don’t have much choice. If you want to keep your job, you have to pay the “dues”. Have you ever looked into their pay scales?

      Do you work at a large company? If so, do you ever wonder about the compensation paid to the CEO? Like it or not, you are supporting his/her salary and benefits with your labors. Sure, you are earning an income and benefits as well, but know that if the company wasn’t making profits above and beyond what it takes to compensate all employees (including the CEO), it would not be there for long.

      With nearly every dollar we are allowed to spend on those items we choose to purchase supports some highly paid executive(s). No matter how carefully we choose, we almost always end up “supporting” some company or organization with which we have philosophical disagreements. And those companies or organizations have highly paid leaders.

      I’m not condoning overpaid top-level positions, not by any means. I merely wanted to point out that this seems to be the way our systems work. We don’t have to agree with it, but we can be aware and we can try to pick and choose those we wish to support – for the greater good.

      I say, let’s fight the battles that are raging now, with the resources currently available. We can choose to fight those less important battles (e.g., overpaid executives and officials) at a later point in time.

      On another note, I sympathize with you living in NY. In my humble opinion, your governor is clearly overstepping his power with some of his policies. Yet the majority in NY keeps voting to the left. Yes, I know the spiel: “it’s all NYC”, And yes, large metropolitan areas can and do have significant influence on an election. But NYC has roughly 8M people, not all of them vote, and of those who do, not all vote left. NYS has roughly 18M people. Basic math suggests that if the voters in upstate NY could be fully motivated to get out and vote right, the left could be defeated.

      No matter how you look at it, Left ain’t Right, and Right ain’t Wrong. Personally, I support those who are on the Right side of the issues. Is it reasonable to expect them to win every battle? Of course not. Will the Right win the proverbial war? I pray to God we will.

      The 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is arguably the single most important sentence in the entire document. If the Left is ever successful at repealing it, the rest of the Constitution becomes optional. It will have no teeth; it can not be effectively defended. The leaders of government will then have the ability to do whatever they want without repercussion.

      Reply

  • Norm Morris

    |

    I’m also a Benefactor member, and to the three guys who commented before me, it’s like you didn’t read Mr. Liptak’s open letter before commenting, or if you did, you certainly didn’t get the points he made laboriously. I’ve been as hard core as they come, and will never give up my guns, but that’s besides the point.

    The NRA isn’t perfect, and being in California with our horrible expanding gun laws, I think they could have done better in this state, but the NRA is the best friend we have, and the more they are supported, the harder that they can push back like Harlon Carter did decades ago, which by the way was a completely different time and political reality.

    You guys qualify your support until they take all the hard line stances you want, and you won’t get anything. Half the people that hold out on the NRA are just too tight to pony up a few bucks in my opinion, and justify if by arguing the NRA compromises. Yeah, that’s the unfortunate reality, as the author said here at least a half-dozen times, if you had read it.

    How frustrating it must be to write all this and have the first three guys who respond completely miss the points made.

    Reply

    • Bob

      |

      It ought to be clear that we read Mr Liptack’s letter. However, we are tired of the same old “but political reality” shtick, and sellouts like Uncly Wayne; and the “I even own a gun” members who support their own right to a bird gun, or deer rifle, or .38 in the night stand, but that’s as far as their pro gun position goes.

      Reply

  • Karl

    |

    NY is hopelessly hoplophobic -both in Albany and DC and the NRA has NOT done an adequate job here.SCOPE[state board and some individual chapters]is also in disarray.
    I don’t know if Gun Owners of America has any influence?.
    I do remember and I WILL VOTE.
    Several local Republicans are not worth voting for i.e.Rich Funke[senate],Brian Kolb[assembly.They only provide lip service

    Reply

  • Vaughn Winslett

    |

    Benefactor member here, when the NRA returns to the Harlon Carter way, and forsakes the weak way of Lapierre, I will return to financing them. Meanwhile, if democrats want my guns come take them. We will die together.

    Reply

  • Bob

    |

    Mr. liptack, your views come very close to mirroring my own. But, tell me, why are there, apparently, so many members and individuals in leadership positions alike, in NRA, that are not in alignment with your views? Why does NRA still tolerate the stench of Wayne LaPierre in it’s hallowed halls, after the damage he has done to gun rights, with Hughes for example? When NRA goes public with a push to indict Charlie Rangel over that fiasco, I will rejoin NRA. Even your position makes our full gun rights optional, and I cannot stomach that.

    Reply

Leave a comment

Your discussions, feedback and comments are welcome here as long as they are relevant and insightful. Please be respectful of others. We reserve the right to edit as appropriate, delete profane, harassing, abusive and spam comments or posts, and block repeat offenders. All comments are held for moderation and will appear after approval.

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.

%d bloggers like this: