Regardless of what I think of some of the NRA’s policy decisions and their leadership, the NRA is still the giant elephant in the room. They are, for better or worse, the one organization working the most on the political/legislative battles at the national level. All the other organizations are more focused on the legal and local battles. Additionally, the average politician is likely unaware of most of the other groups, the fact is in Washington D.C. gun rights and NRA are synonymous in most politicians’ minds.
I know some pro-gun activists are’ burn down the NRA’ and it will be replaced with something better. But I think we forget the NRA used to be something ‘better’ but as it became the main 2nd Amendment organization, and focused more and more on national politics it became an organization about raising money (national politics, like it or not, is about money) and compromising between the better of two political evils when needed. If the Gun Owners of America (GOA) for instance replaced a deceased NRA they would likely look very much like the modern NRA in less than 10 years in my opinion as they face the reality of national U.S. politics.
The NRA is the most visible ‘marker’ of defense of the second amendment to everyone in the U.S., When it is strong (numbers) it is harder for the anti-gunners, no matter what the NRA is currently doing. If it is weak and gone, it will be seen as open season to pass more gun laws. I honestly believe some of the laws we see being pushed today would not e getting as much traction if those opposed to gun rights did not perceive the NRA as weakened and embattled from within. Also the hard core ‘thou shall not infringe” gun owners (I count myself as one) are really only a minority of the members of the NRA. It is those millions, to use a term getting more popular, Fudds that give the NRA its political strength. That same majority of hunters, sports shooters, and sometimes home defense owners would not be likely to join the more stringent other gun rights groups. Remember after the last shooting President Trump met with the NRA, not the other organizations we all might like (including me) more.
I honestly think ‘we’ (gun owners) are eating our own tail in ‘our’ current attacks on the NRA. Does it need to change? Yes. It will, but like any large and established organization, it will be slower than anyone would like to see. Does the current CEO, Wayne LaPierre need to leave, likely, but most CEOs of non-profits demand high salaries and perks and there are many who may be even worse. Honestly, again, time will take care of this, he will likely step down naturally in 5-10 years.
So what do I suggest, Wait for a discount or payment special, become a life time member of the NRA (keep the numbers strong). Enjoy the magazines and vote in the board elections (not much effect, but keep trying to get younger change minded individuals in, it will make a difference over time). Do not increase your membership or donate anything else unless you are happy with the direction the NRA takes. With the rest of any money you would give to the NRA join the GOA, FPC, local groups, etc.
Conflict of Interest: I am a Patriot Life Member of the NRA as well as a Golden Eagle contributor and an NRA Instructor (I am also a Life Member of other organizations).