Where Does The “Powerful Gun Lobby” Get Its Power?
Article first appeared at Shooting Illustrated.
This feature appears in the July ’16 issue of NRA America’s 1st Freedom, one of the official journals of the National Rifle Association.
Through singular focus, relentless determination and unparalleled organization, the 5 million members of the NRA have become one of the most powerful political forces in history.
Since I first came to the NRA more than two decades ago, ILA has vastly improved our ability to communicate with legislators, governors and non-elected officials throughout the country. We have also greatly enhanced our ability to communicate with NRA members about the vital issues that we face at all levels of government.
NRA-ILA has also made giant strides in our ability to organize NRA members and supporters into a powerful electoral force. That force, which is made up of millions of voters, volunteers and donors, has made the NRA into one of the most powerful—if not the most powerful—civil rights organizations in American history.
And while I want every gun owner to be actively involved in every election, this year we face the biggest threat we’ve ever seen.
Bigger than Barack Obama.
Bigger than John Kerry.
Bigger than Al Gore or Bill Clinton.
This year, we face the specter of Hillary Clinton as president of the United States. We also face the real possibility that Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., will be elevated to majority leader of the U.S. Senate if the Democrats win a majority in that chamber.
Just consider that for a moment. If NRA members do not become fully engaged in this election, Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer may be in a position to achieve all their anti-gun goals.
Semi-automatic ban, check.
Gun owner licensing, check.
Anti-gun lawsuits renewed, check.
Firearm import bans, check.
Senate consideration and even ratification of the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty, check.While joining or donating to the NRA is a great first step, the NRA-ILA Grassroots Division offers a number of programs and resources to help you make a difference.
And perhaps most important of all, the nomination and confirmation of two, three or even four extreme anti-gun jurists to lifetime seats on the Supreme Court.
Using Obama’s approach as her template, Clinton has already said she will abuse her executive powers to impose gun restrictions. She has repeatedly promised to go much further than Obama has. And if her ally Schumer leads the Senate, there will be no way to slow her down.
In fact, Clinton has publicly announced that she intends to take on the “gun lobby” “from day one” if she is elected. Put simply, she has made the destruction of our Second Amendment-protected rights her No. 1 goal.
Please don’t consider these idle threats. Clinton has declared the NRA and the “gun culture” as her enemy. She says we have “too many” guns in our homes. She has consistently made passage of gun laws the centerpiece of her campaign, and while she has proven herself to be untrustworthy in many ways, on this issue we can take her at her word.
Why am I running through all the ways Hillary Clinton is a threat? Because we can, and we must, stop her. As I wrote last month, there are many ways for all of us to get involved in campaigns and elections. One of the most important ways is through ILA’s campaign and election programs.
When it comes to the defense of our Second Amendment-protected rights, people often don’t know how to effectively get involved. With everything that is at stake this year, this is something we cannot afford to let happen. While joining or donating to the NRA is a great first step, the NRA-ILA Grassroots Division offers a number of programs and resources to help you make a difference. Establishing and maintaining a strong grassroots network through these programs is a critical component of NRA’s fight to preserve our Second Amendment-protected rights.
NRA members have proven time and time again to be the gold standard in the voting booth. Let’s prove them right once again this year.
NRA’s strength comes from 5 million-plus members and their reputation for taking action when called upon in defense of the Second Amendment. For many NRA members who want to take a more active role, this means being part of our FrontLines™ program. This program provides volunteer activists a direct line of communication with ILA for regular and continuing updates of our grassroots activities, events and overall volunteer efforts in a specific geographic area. By going toNRAILAFrontlines.com and signing up for the FrontLines™ program, you are letting us know you are ready and willing to take the next step in becoming a true Second Amendment activist.
Election Volunteer Coordinator
For those with an even greater desire to get involved and wanting to take a leadership role for volunteer activities in their areas, we offer the Election Volunteer Coordinator (EVC) program. EVCs are leaders in their communities who selflessly take the time to guide our membership and mobilize pro-gun networks. Established primarily to aid in our election-related activities, the role of the EVC has expanded over the years to the point where they are now a critical component of everything we do throughout the year, even in off-election cycles.
Second Amendment Activist Centers
Taking our message beyond the NRA membership remains one of our biggest challenges during elections. This is where our Second Amendment Activist Centers come in. These centers are critical in overcoming communication hurdles, especially in battleground states or congressional districts where Second Amendment issues can mean the difference between winning and losing an election. Often located inside gun shops and other retail locations, these centers serve as distribution points for election messaging and information. In turn, we help these businesses by promoting them through our website, through email and our activist network in the FrontLines™ program.
Educating future generations is something we take a lot of pride in at the NRA. As we all know, this is the key to protecting our firearm freedoms for the long haul. The NRA University program was designed to engage college students in the fight to protect our rights by providing them with the tools they need to get and stay active on Second Amendment issues. Throughout the year, Grassroots Division staff travel to college and university campuses to provide grassroots training on what it takes to be a Second Amendment advocate and how to effectively protect our freedoms. These seminars also provide a key networking opportunity for students in college environments that can otherwise be openly hostile to Second Amendment values. Students who start in our NRA University program often take on other activist roles after graduation.
Campaign Field Representative Program
To help ramp up our efforts during election cycles, we employ a number of paid field staff called Campaign Field Representatives (CFRs). CFRs are placed in key battleground areas to help turn out voters and make sure our members and pro-gun supporters elect candidates who will protect our firearm freedoms. Their efforts are directly tied to recruiting and managing volunteers on myriad campaign activities such as phone banks, knocking on doors and hosting campaign events. In many ways, our CFRs are the direct link between NRA headquarters and our grassroots efforts on the ground.
All of our Grassroots programs can be accessed through our website, nraila.org, or by calling (800) 392-vote (8683). From these sources, you can learn who in your area is organizing action and how you can get involved. I urge you to take action now and learn how you can contribute to our historic victory this November.
Our opponents know that gun owners are among the nation’s most powerful political forces. In fact, both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have voiced frustration that their supporters don’t prioritize gun control when they vote, while NRA members have proven time and time again to be the gold standard in the voting booth. Let’s prove them right once again this year.
And so you do not lose focus on what we are fighting, just imagine this: President Hillary Clinton, Majority Leader Charles Schumer and—if we believe what Hillary Clinton says—Supreme Court Justice Barack Obama.
That is enough to keep me motivated. I trust it is for you as well.