I’ve never been interested in guns. I grew up with guns. I went hunting. I own a gun. But I have no real interest in them as many of my friends and family do, who will talk my ears off about guns in much the same way many talk about cars or fishing or football.
I’ve never been a member of the NRA. Never sent them a dime. When I was a lonely conservative in a sea of liberals while working at daily newspapers in the ’80s and ’90s, I had an NRA bumper sticker posted in my cubicle for everyone to see. But that was just to drive my colleagues bananas, which it did along with the Ten Commandments plaque.
However, I’ve long understood the Second Amendment. It is clear it was the Second to buttress the First when there were eight other slots for it in the Bill of Rights. The framers considered the right to bear arms as both the natural right of humans for self defense and as a last line of defense against a government intent on destroying the rights enumerated in the First Amendment and the rest of the Constitution. A well-armed citizenry is very difficult for a tyrannical government to subjugate.
The National Rifle Association is the nation’s preeminent defender of the Second Amendment. I sometimes have thought they were too rigid in their slippery slope concept, but generally supported what they did. I just never joined.
I can’t really explain why. It’s certainly not any antipathy towards guns. It’s not any misunderstanding that the Second Amendment is about hunting. Perhaps, it was partially as a single-income family with eight children — I’m a lifelong tightwad. But really, 20 years ago, surrounded by newsroom liberals and fighting those battles on every issue, perhaps even I didn’t want to be painted as an “extremist” on just one issue.
All that has changed.
Watching the now abusive nature of the militant and dangerous part of the left in this country, willing to use emotionally traumatized teens to further their autocratic government agenda to weaken this indispensable American right, it’s become clear that the NRA, and as importantly, its membership, is a bulwark against the further diminution of American civil liberties.
This is a straightforward response to the wild and irresponsible reactionary Left since the Parkland shootings. From the vicious attacks on NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch at the CNN “townhall” and afterwards, to the abusive use of emotional teens to pursue a radical leftist agenda by professional activist organizations such as the Women’s March and Black Lives Matter, to the Democrats smelling another opportunity to regain power — their issue du jour — I realized that the NRA has become one of the indispensable front lines of defense for Americans and our ultimate ability to defend ourselves against attackers and our rights against a coercive government.
The NRA’s actions are about more than just gun rights. They are about the rest of the Constitution, too. They suffer the slings and arrows and absorb the blows that the Progressive Left and their propagandists in the traditional media would otherwise be aiming at individual, traditional Americans.
They form a front line of defense and they can rally a deep reservoir of traditionalist Americans like few other groups. While their focus is Second Amendment, their impact is much broader and far reaching.
At its core, the NRA is a civil rights organization. Sure, the media and rest of the Left will scoff at that. But then they consider Al Sharpton and the Southern Poverty Law Center civil rights leaders. So they obviously don’t understand actual civil rights. But that is exactly the role the NRA is now playing in our country: Defender of American civil rights. And it may be one of the most indispensible such organizations out there because of its focus on the amendment that acts as a fists-up defense of all the others.
So if the NRA has been defending the Right that is the last-line defense for all other Rights — which is essentially what the NRA has been doing for the past 100 years, but much more so in recent decades — then the reality is that their only real extremism is in defense of liberty. And as Barry Goldwater said: “Moderation in the protection of liberty is no virtue; extremism in the defense of freedom is no vice.”
What’s may be most meaningful about the NRA is that, unlike many leftist groups funded by the likes of George Soros, its strength is not in its money, whether through campaign contributions or other promotions. The NRA has donated less than $4 million to congressional races in the past 20 years. That is essentially a rounding error in the total amount spent on congressional races in that time. Even the liberal Vox has figured this out and reported it honestly when talking about the donations to Sen. John Cornyn, who is one of the top recipients with $30,000 since 2002:
“But it was a drop in his much bigger ocean of donations. In 2014 he raised $14 million, including $57,000 from Exxon alone. The NRA was nowhere near his top 15 biggest donor contributors. All of the money the NRA has given Cornyn for more than a decade might pay for about 1 percent of his fundraising for one election cycle — and Cornyn is one of the biggest recipients of NRA cash in Congress.
No. It’s strength is in its people, in the millions of members that it bands together to protect this essential right that the framers raised up to second in line. These members vote in high numbers and they vote heavily on this issue. That is where the NRA’s power comes from — the power of democracy in action by an activated electorate.
But knowing all this, I still had not joined. Until now. Watching the now abusive nature of the militant and dangerous left in this country, willing to use emotionally traumatized teens to further their autocratic government agenda to weaken this indispensable American right, it’s become clear that the NRA, and as importantly, its membership, is a bulwark against the further diminution of American civil liberties.
And for that great and noble cause, today I’ve joined the NRA.
Rod Thomson is an author, TV talking head and former journalist, and is Founder of The Revolutionary Act. Rod is co-host of Right Talk America With Julio and Rod on the Salem Radio Network.
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