July 18, 2019
Firearms News has not turned a blind eye to the controversy surrounding the NRA. Rather, the opposite. We launched an investigation to delve into just what is going on behind the scenes within this important gun rights organization. This is the first article in a multi-part series. The genesis of this initial piece came while looking into how one could determine if bureaucracies, especially governmental, had become corrupted and were no longer serving the interests of the public. An internet search came across an analysis from the Mises Institute published on March 23, 2012 by Harry E. Teasley Jr.. The Institute is a think tank regarding policies involving economics and freedoms. The main “rules” described provoked a surprising insight that this could also apply to private organizations as well. The NRA has been a serious topic of discussion in the 2nd Amendment community and yet there is little solid analysis being done. The purpose of this article is to begin a structured discussion about their situation. It will be the first of many investigative reports about the NRA by Firearms News. This discussion by the gun rights community is unavoidable. Many people within our community actively call out government cronyism, and we must do the same when it appears within our midst. Any human endeavor is only as honorable as the people who are involved. This goes back to an old statement about power and those who wield it.
Rules of Bureaucracy
Rule #1: Maintain the problem at all costs! The problem is the basis of power, perks, privileges, and security.
By their very nature bureaucracies exist to either promote, manage or prevent an issue. The bureaucracies which are advocacy groups have two options. Either be involved in a issue so large that it will never end or simply prevent an existing issue from only getting worse. This gives the bureaucracy a reason for its continued existence. Take the March of Dimes as an example. It was founded to combat the polio pandemic focusing on child victims, once that was accomplished the organization shifted to fight all severe childhood ailments. This is an example of how an advocacy group should operate. Most other organizations operate in small, controlled measures in order to maintain their existence and power, rather than completing their underlying mission.
Rule #2: Use crisis and perceived crisis to increase your power and control.
This point is very simple. In the Wayne LaPierre era, the NRA has always made itself the ‘center’ of the gun rights community. Whenever an incident takes place, the NRA brazenly makes its view known as quickly as possible in the media. The NRA aggressively seeks the spotlight with the tone of its rhetoric, deliberately making itself a target by the opposition. This increases its influence and perceived position within the 2nd Amendment community. This is absolutely by their own design. In comparison, if one were to ask the general populace who the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) was, most have no idea. (NSSF represents gun manufacturers and dealers as their primary focus.) This organization has been around for decades and has just as much of a stake in gun rights as the NRA and yet they maintain a very low profile.
Rule #3: If there are not enough crises, manufacture them, even from nature, where none exist.
The NRA doesn’t need to manufacture any crisis for their gain. The opposition willingly does all that by itself. The NRA uses this to their advantage in order to collect more money and publicity for itself. Just think about how many calls you receive soliciting for money after any major negative news story, or even just during the normal election cycle.
Rule #4: Control the flow and release of information while feigning openness.
This is currently one of the biggest issues the NRA has created between itself and its members. For many years, the general membership simply relinquished proper oversight to the organization itself. The NRA only publishes information it wants to be made public through its own media channels and carefully controls its inner workings. Simply try and find out what business the leadership does for the organization, or an actual disclosure of its finances, and see what the response will be.
Rule #5: Maximize public-relations exposure by creating a cover story that appeals to the universal need to help people.
It doesn’t create cover stories, but as previously stated, the NRA actively forces itself on to the center stage when defending gun rights. It wants to be perceived as the bane of the gun control movement. By being their bogeyman, the NRA gets more publicity and support. There is no way that Ackerman McQueen, and the personalities they employed, would be conducting themselves as they did without at least tacit approval from the NRA leadership. Until the recent lawsuits, the NRA had print, internet and television outlets under its control to deliver its message.
Rule #6: Create vested support groups by distributing concentrated benefits and/or entitlements to these special interests, while distributing the costs broadly to one's political opponents.
This has been clearly done in the case of creating vested groups, as the NRA has expanded its lobbying efforts into all areas of the firearms community. They make the claim to speak not only for the general community, but also subgroups like hunters. There is a multitude of dedicated conservation organizations in the USA, and yet the NRA has personnel dedicated to wildlife conservation and hunting policies. The NRA uses independent state pistol and rifle associations to create an image of controlling a broad front for its opposition to fight.
Rule #7: Demonize the truth tellers who have the temerity to say, "The emperor has no clothes."
This is a serious note and is part of the very dynamic situation that is currently unfolding before us. The narrative being supplied by the NRA and its opposition groups are at complete odds with each other. There is no way to tell with a superficial glance as to who is being more truthful. That is why the gun community must perform its own inquiry.
Now again, this is only an opening statement. In future articles there will be specific examples and explanations to flush out the argument being made. The 2nd Amendment must be protected from all antagonists, both from within, and outside of, the firearms community. All of the information contained in future articles will be from publicly available sources and directly from the NRA itself. It's the goal of this, and subsequent articles, to provide each of you with accurate information about the current state of the NRA. Unfortunately you will not like everything you read here, but it’s time all these issues come to light. The firearms community must be made aware of what is happening behind the scenes within the National Rifle Association.