3 Myths about the NRA Debunked

I’ve been hearing a lot of chatter about the NRA on Facebook, Twitter and this Blog. So, I decided to take three of the most common myths and shed some light on the conversation.

“The NRA supports Universal Background Checks”

Though I wrote about this several weeks ago, I feel I need to address this topic again. Recent news articles claim the NRA is having closed-door talks with politicians in order to work out a background check deal. Though these articles typically come from less-than-reputable news sources, they have created quite a buzz. The NRA stated on multiple occasions they are not in the business of Universal Background Checks and they staunchly oppose the implementation of Universal Background Checks or anything that could lead to a National Firearms Registry. Though I am not behind those closed-doors on the Hill, I can speculate that any background check discussion would be the NRA’s push for strengthening and improving the current system. As it stands today, the NICS system is imperfect, incomplete and unenforced. Obviously, there is the occasional problem with false positives—letting a restricted person, such as a convicted felon, purchase a gun—and false negatives—mistakes made that cause a legal gun owner to be rejected for purchase of a new firearm. However, and more importantly, felons attempting to purchase weapons through the NICS system are not usually prosecuted, though it is a federal felony to lie on Form 4473. Also, adjudicated mental disorders are not regularly reported to NICS, allowing the person in question to purchase a firearm despite federal law. The NRA supports measures to improve the system, so people who shouldn’t have guns can’t purchase them. Let’s look at the official numbers:

  • In 2010, over 6 million NICS checks were made. 98.8% of those were legal gun owners.
  • 1.2% or 72,659 people were rejected in the NICS system as not able to purchase firearms.
  • 34,459 of those were felons and 13,862 were fugitives (others were domestic abusers, drug addicts, and those with restraining orders against them).

How many of those people were prosecuted for their felony gun crime? 62. And how many of those were convicted of their crime? 13. Judging by the numbers, it is clear our background check system could use a bit of improvement. If the NRA does come out backing any type of “background check deal,” I’m quite certain it will involve actually enforcing the laws on the books and improving the NICS system to ensure that people who shouldn’t be allowed to purchase guns can’t actually buy them.

“The NRA sold us out then, and they’ll do it again!”

I have seen and heard many comments along this line. The NRA pushed this way or that on some bill or another that restricted gun rights. Is it true? In some ways, yes. The NRA-ILA and the CRLDF take on hundreds if not thousands of cases every year. And though we would love to “never give an inch, never surrender,” sometimes the best or only option is to compromise; such as in the 1986 “Firearm Owners Protection Act.” This bill prevented the BATFE from repeatedly harassing or intimidating FFL dealers and gun owners, prevented prosecution for transporting across state lines, prevented a national firearms registry and prevented prosecution for transporting a firearm through a state with restrictive gun laws. However, the law also added that fully automatic weapons had to be registered or they could not be owned or transferred. Despite the added “machine gun ban” amendments, the NRA still backed the bill because the benefits to gun owners were great strides in gun rights. Automatic weapons were already highly regulated by this time, so it was worth it to the lobbyists to let registration of automatic weapons go. So, in a way the NRA did turn their backs on gun owners. However, the NRA did so only to gain more rights for gun owners in exchange for a little extra hassle for automatic weapon ownership. To put it in a contemporary setting, if Congress was voting on bills for an assault weapons ban, magazine ban, universal background checks, and a national firearms registry, the NRA would resist those bills and push a less intrusive “One percent extra firearm tax to pay for better school security” bill. (I must note however, that the above is only an illustration, not any sort of accurate estimate of the NRA’s legislative agenda. It is merely an example of how the NRA would compromise with Congress to push actual common sense solutions that would have more effect in the real world.)

“The NRA is just a shill for the gun and ammo manufacturers!”

This is something I’ve heard too many times. There is some truth to it, but not much. The NRA is made up of members who love shooting, collecting, hunting, and everything else gun related. People who love guns and want to keep their rights to own and use those guns join the NRA to join the largest lobbying and interest group in the nation. People who work for the shooting sports industry, such as myself, my colleagues, gunsmiths at Beretta, ammo manufacturers at Remington and the gun cabinet guy at Cabelas, all join the NRA because they defend our firearm passion and livelihood. Companies often donate money to the NRA to protect our RTKBA. But is the NRA just taking orders from all gun companies? No, the NRA takes orders from the members of the association; the guys and gals who love guns and want to keep their rights. If any group is a “shill” for the firearm and ammunition companies, it would the NSSF, but even that is a stretch. The National Shooting Sports Foundation is the trade organization that represents all of the companies that make up the shooting sports. Their job is to protect and defend shooting industry companies and rights. However, in this industry, the views of the NRA and the NSSF almost always are directly tied if not the same. “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander,” the old saying goes, and what is good for the gun owner is good for the gun industry.

I hope I have cleared some myths up for you. If I haven’t, or if you have other questions you want answered, please tell me in the comment section. I will field whatever questions you have regarding the NRA or current legislation and I will try to answer them to the best of my ability.

If you would like to join the NRA, please take advantage of the discounted membership.

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 (19)

  1. To those who belive in the right to keep and bear arms, but will not support the NRA, what group DO you support? Talk is cheap. What are you doing?

    1. Gun Owners of America; Second Amendment Foundation, any group but the NRA. I am frankly surprised at this articles lack of detail with regards to the specifics surrounding gun-control legislation and the NRA’s HISTORY of support for such law. It appears that Scott (author) has based this note on almost pure speculation. This link should put things into perspective for the non-believer:
      If i was asked to describe the NRA in two words, those words would be, “controlled opposition”. At least there is some consistency to all this, the little guy always seems to get it in the rear while others (manufactures) always come out just a little further ahead. Putting all you eggs in the NRA basket is reckless, and it is foolish. The Founders were all to aware of that fact, thus creating about a gazillion different separations of powers. Just the facts, make of them what you will.

  2. I realize we(the NRA) need “brighter minds” in management, but it seems to me the administrative costs are excessive. I don’t expect the upper management folks to work for free, just because they are successful business people, most with substantial income from other sources, but if they want the support of “grass roots” gun owners, it be better not to see them on african safari’s and high dollar banquets and such. I just think the image that is projected not the best for gathering financial support
    from the “general public”. I think this is affecting the “shift” to NAGR. I appreciate all that the NRA has done, and continues to do. I wouldn’t want to have to deal with polititions, lobbyist, and the like. I will continue to support the NRA to the extent I am able, but I am retired, and my income is shrinking all the time, so my support will also shrink.

  3. #12 “DOUBLE HELICAL” You have said a mouth-full! A divided house will never stand. The government loves dissension, and “divide and conquer” is their mantra. Stick together folks, or we will all go down together. Swallow your pride….just a little bit.

  4. To #11 G Man. You are right, I only read a few posts before I respond. Given there are more than 200 posts on different Blog sites (and more as you input), I do not have a chance to read every Blog. I am unfamiliar with NAGR, but will be looking at their site and probably joining, along with my NRA membership. I realize you do not believe in compromise, but many times that is the only option. Compromise involves getting as much as you give. I suspect you view compromise as surrender, which I do not subscribe to. Thanks for the heads up on NAGR. I subscribe to the NRA with one year memberships. If I feel they are headed in a direction I do not agree with, I do not renew. The same will be true with the NAGR. These days, numbers count. We should all belong to as many pro-gun advocacy groups as possible, until we win this war.

  5. Hey all you guys! If you want to join any other group, fine! Go ahead! But one thing the anti-gunners want is US fighting amongst OURSELVES! Say anything you want about the anti-gunners, the media shills, etc. BUT don’t say ONE WORD against any other pro-gun organization. Even if you don’t like what they do: button your LIP! We need to stand UNITED. As good old Ben Franklin said, “Gentlemen, we must all hang together, or we will certainly hang separately!”

    AND: be especially wary of posts and blogs that PRETEND to be pro-gun, but try to get us fighting amongst ourselves. Think about what you hear or read, and ask yourself if this post might just be from an anti-gunner in disguise.

    BE Skeptical. Be wary. Be wise. And most of all, stick together.

    And let’s not have any more of this foolishness!

  6. @ james west (comment #8). I guess you don’t read other’s posts, you just write. Please read my post (G-Man comment #4) above. Millions are defecting to the NAGR for the very reasons you’ve mentioned. We do vote – with our donation dollars and put the money where we feel they are most effective, which is not the NRA.

  7. IMHO it is better to give my money to the the NRA today than having to donate my blood to save the 2nd amendment tomorrow!

    Death before slavery!

  8. Shame of it all is,If only they were after our right to own, sell, or drive a car.Maybe take our right to a phone.All of us know they both kill in the hands of a bad person.A phone call can set off a bomb that could kill who knows how many innocent people.A Car is killing people every minute.Most people own a car and a phone and would be affected soo everyone would be on the same team to stop stupid LAWS..

  9. My deepest regret to CTD Scott’s response is that Mr. LaPierre does not have the time to respond to us members, which only fuels the “shill” allegations. As far as the points addressed, I think the responses were good but not fully adequate. Let’s hope Houston brings some more clarity.
    As far as the issues discussed, I think some of us are either overlooking important points or fail to see them. We should be very gratified that we support an organization that can afford to “buy” their way behind closed doors. DC runs on lobbyist money. Why else would you run for such a piss poor job. If you want through to get through the more prominent doors for a meaningful discussion, you better bring your AmEx Black Card. We may or may not like all of what is said at those mtgs. but remember, DC is the land of compromise (among several other unmentionable acts) and it is rare that anyone in DC gets everything they want unless it is a non-polarizing matter, which gun control definitely is not.
    Did the NRA REALLY sell us out or was that the best compromise they could get given the adversity they were facing. Remember, we are dealing with the land of compromise.
    Is the NRA a shill of the Gun Industry? I hope so. They are the people who keep us armed while we are allowed to be armed. They also tend to hire brighter minds than mine and probably come to better results than a cross section of our membership would. I certainly hope the industry people would listen to us and that someone, somewhere would address our suggestions, recommendations…even our carping. I have been a member of several trade organizations and believe me, those who pay the highest dues get the most attention. Just look at any trade convention. Tell me you cannot tell who the five biggest contributors are by booth size and placement. Sorry folks, it’s just a fact of life.
    In closing I would like to make a suggestion to my fellow NRA members. We opposed Obama and lost BIG. We elect our NRA representatives. If you don’t like what is being done, change your horses. We choose to pay our dues (one of the traps of a lifetime membership) which keeps the NRA operating. If you do not like what is being done, simply drop out. Do not make contributions to NRA-ILA. Do not round up your purchase so small change and dollars which are sent to the NRA. If you are not willing to take these steps, you must not be that dissatisfied with your organization.

  10. Everything we email is now being recorded and stored by the government, or other media organizations. I’m not being paranoid, it’s a fact. This president now has an ever growing list of those who oppose his so called fundimental transformation away from freedom to enslavement. I really don’t know why he bothers. Socialism is already here and the final steps that complete the transformation will happen. Why? Because we the forgotten people do not have a political party that supports us. The greatest problem both mainstream parties have. Is trying to create some way the end of America and our way of life is the fault of the other party, not their’s.

    1. Is the government recording what I post about my rights, including my gun rights? Good! I will live as a free man and stand for what I believe. If there is some kind of list of free, unafraid, patriotic Americans who refuse to cower and bow to the powerful, I want to be on it.

  11. I do not believe that the NRA is a schill for the gun manufacturers. I do believe that every gun manufacturer here and abroad better start digging deep into their bank accounts and begin supporting the NRA’s efforts. After all, it takes millions to buy the support of the elected officials we already pay to support us, but do not. You have to bribe them. If the gun manufacturers fail to buy off the crooked so and so’s. They’d bettter start re-tooling their plants so they can make toys or washing machines, etc.

  12. Just one note: “never give an inch” is always the best way when it comes to ANY unalienable rights. “compromise is the best way” is only the beginning of letting someone else (usually the Government) begin to take away your rights though negotiation and “compromise”. If NO compromise had been the stance since the beginning, there would not even exist a need today to protect our “RTKBA” or any other right. WE don’t “negotiate” or “compromise” in the first place, we wouldn’t have to “defend” our rights from further erosion. “Compromise” and “negotiations” are just a way for some entity (again, usually Government) to “negotiate” some kind of authority over your rights that they don’t have, and never will have, unless you decide to “compromise”. BATFE haz ZERO authority in the several states of the Union, and is a good example of how “we” “compromised” or “negotiated” them into some kind of imaginary “authority” to tell us what we can and cannot have. BATFE has authority in areas exclusively controlled by Congress, i.e. the territories; Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, Puerto Rico and District of Columbia, and ZERO authority in the several states until the People “compromise” or negotiate”. Thomas jefferson is doing flip-flops in his grave, I am sure…

  13. “Where there is smoke, there is fire” – I always say; which is why I chose to no longer support the NRA. I, along with millions of others have switched our support dollars over to the NAGR (National Association for Gun Rights). They understand that even the slightest bit of compromise is what whittles away at the core of the Second Amendment. Like each grain of sand carried away by a small stream to eventually form the Grand Canyon, every bit of compromise will undoubtedly lead to the complete demise of our Second Amendment rights. The NAGR understands this and takes a no-holds-barred approach against those that would trample on our rights. The NRA has outlived its usefulness, whereas the modern grass-roots NAGR maintains a philosophy that is more conducive and effective towards combatting the increasingly unscrupulous tactics of the left.

  14. You are wrong on the 1986 laws.
    At that time machine guns had to be registered because of the NFA of 1934, each transfer required a $200.00 tax from 1934 to now!
    The gun control act of 1968 gave amnesty to those who held unregistered NFA weapons, allowing them to be registered. The 68 act also eliminated mail order firearms by the general public. This law also created the 4473 form. The act also classified any bore size above 50 cal in a repeater as a destructive device. The British Boys 55 cal A.T. bolt gun fell into the definition.
    With the 1986 law, the NRA did not even oppose the nfa section, they said they had no interest in automatic weapons, the atf took the ball and ran with it. This eliminated any new manufactured full auto weapons from ever being entered into the public market and eliminated the importation of any such weapons.
    I was in that market at the time, I was disgusted with the NRA at the time and dropped my membership. I did last year, rejoin because of the great threat to our individual freedoms presented by this corrupt, socialist administration.
    Their long term goal, as pelosi said is the elimination of ALL firearms.

  15. The government is now controlling the distribution of ammo, so no need for any new laws. See if you can find any ammo out there for handguns or rifles anywhere close to military calibers.

  16. Sadly, the National Association for Gun Rights (NAGR) has been perpetuating many of these myths. Seems that they are jealous of the press the NRA receives.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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.