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Does dropping the NRA really make a difference?

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Since the Parkland school shooting on February 14th, the National Rifle Association has received a lot of bad press. The shooter used an assault rifle, and the media and public have blamed the NRA because the public believes it is the NRA’s fault that the shooter obtained the weapon. Companies are even dropping their associations with the NRA because of the public backlash. But does this effect the companies or the NRA more?

 

from KOTA TV
NRA logo

“I saw some posts that people can’t get through to the NRA’s subscription service because there is so much activity. They’re going to gain a million members now. No one ever joined for the benefits. It’s more of an advertising scheme for the companies than anything,” said NRA member Mr. Steve Spencer.

The companies are dropping the NRA to make sure their public perception is exactly what they want it to be.  NRA member Mr. Phil Bengel expanded upon this by saying, “It affects the perception of the companies more than anything else because nobody joins the NRA to get a discount on their airline travel. You don’t pay your dues for that. I’m a member of the NRA, and I didn’t even know we had discounts. I was unaware until this came about. It doesn’t bother me at all. I think it’s just about perception.”

Spencer agreed with Bengel and built upon his statement by saying, “Those benefits are just icing on the cake or something. Nobody cares about them. It makes me more likely not use those businesses.”

The companies are being negatively impacted as shown by this poll. The companies that dropped the NRA are doing much better with Democrats but are doing significantly worse with Republicans. There are not making as much money overall. “That’s the other thing that’s happening. Now that the lists are out there of who has dumped the NRA, well, the NRA people are now dumping those companies. The bank that sponsors the NRA visa card (First National Bank of Omaha) is getting pounded. I think (dropping the NRA) is detrimental to companies,” said Spencer.

from the Daily Caller
NRA First National Bank Visa card

The reason the NRA is being blamed for shootings including the Parkland shooting is because the NRA is an extremely vocal organization. This along with the fact that there are millions of members means they are easily blamed. “They have five million members. Some of these polls of NRA members result in 12-15 million members because people will join and then just let their membership lapse. Maybe they’ll be sporadic, or maybe the husband is a member and the wife feels the same way about it or maybe his kids (feel the same way).  When you say five million, that’s really a low estimate. The numbers multiply,” said Spencer.

A lot of people just put the blame on the NRA because they think they understand the NRA’s full message. The main issue with that is that the NRA does more than just support gun rights. Bengel said, “I think it’s pretty unfair. I think you’re taking one single issue, one single incident, and kind of placing the blame on one group because it’s easy because of the size of the group. I think the influence social media has now and how quickly people can see the news cycle has really given an unfair look at the NRA because a lot of people don’t do their research. Sure, the NRA supports gun rights, but they also do a lot for gun safety and legal gun ownership. They do a lot of safety training classes. They lead a lot of safety training classes. They train law enforcement. They work with the military in training. My barber in Saylor Park was an NRA instructor, and he taught safety classes. He typed out a 236-page rifle safety manual for a class he was going to teach to the boy scouts when they were going for eagle scout. It was a very high level class, and it was all about teaching them safety. They had to read the manual, understand the manual, and pass a test on the manual before they could hold a weapon. There is a really big side of the NRA that is for the safety, for the legal, and for the responsible use of guns that is being overshadowed by a single issue of the second amendment and gun ownership. The NRA gets the image that they’ve allowed people to own these weapons whether they have been obtained legally or illegally. It doesn’t matter to people.”

 

from NBC News
Here are just three of the companies that have cut ties with the NRA since the Parkland shooting

A lot of people want stricter gun control, and obviously they are fighting the NRA when they argue that. The companies, by dropping the NRA, are saying they want to stay within the good graces of the people in support of stricter gun control rather than the people of the NRA and other gun rights supporters.

Other companies like Kroger, LL Bean, Walmart, and Dick’s, that were not NRA sponsors, are also making statements about who they side with by raising the age needed to buy guns and ammunition within their own stores.

Another reason companies are dropping the NRA and supporting stricter gun control is because there are being protests being lead against the NRA in the form of marches, social media campaigns, and everything else in between. “A lot of the protests are AstroTurf. They’re not real, and even if they are real, they’re probably people that didn’t use those services anyway,” said Spencer.

from newsmax.com
a sign at a protest against the NRA

The companies dropping the NRA is affecting the gun lobby. It just depends on you talk to or story you read as to how much they are being affected. Some people will say that the companies dropping the NRA is good for the NRA. Spencer said, “It’s just gotten people more fired up. The membership rolls are exploding. People are upgrading.”

Other people think it will do both. They think it will drive some people away because they do not want to be involved in controversy. They also think some people will be more inclined to join or upgrade to make statement as to which side of the argument they’re on. “It’ll do both. You’re going to have some people that will join that have never been in the NRA before that are going to join as a, ‘Well I’m going to join this side of the argument. I can manage $35 a year.’ There will also be some people who don’t want to be a member anymore. It won’t have to do with the discounts, but it could have something to do with the perception of the NRA,” said Bengel.

There also those who believe the NRA is going to get clobbered because the companies are no longer giving their members discounts. They think people will drop the NRA because the members can no longer save money at some retailers with their membership.

This has been the most popular news story since the shooting. People are forming their own opinions, and they are debating with each other online fueling the fire of the story. “I think much like everything the news cycle will wind down on this, and it will disappear. The shooting itself is bigger than the beef with the NRA, but the beef with the NRA has gotten larger because that’s what people know about and they can comment on. No one wants to comment on the Parkland shooting. That’s the shame of it that people like news stories that they can understand easily without knowing much about, and blaming the NRA is easy,” said Bengel.

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About the Writer
John Keehan '18, Co-Editor
Co-Editor of The Purple Quill. I once met sometimes starting quarterback Daniel Nieman. “I was gonna kick your a**.”- Daniel “Hardball” Nieman.
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