Welcome to Common Gunsense

I hope this blog will provoke some thoughtful reflection about the issue of guns and gun violence. I am passionate about the issue and would love to change some misperceptions and the culture of gun violence in America by sharing with readers words, photos, videos and clips from articles to promote common sense about gun issues. Many of you will agree with me- some will not. I am only one person but one among many who think it's time to do something about this national problem. The views expressed by me in this blog do not represent any group with which I am associated but are rather my own personal opinions and thoughts.
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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

NRA "membership", Part 2

Well folks, I rest my case. Since I wrote my post the other day about the false membership numbers proclaimed by the NRA, I have been told that you can get a complimentary NRA membership when you attend a gun show. Also, the NRA gives memberships away on it's website. I wrote about my friend who is now considered to be a member of the NRA by mistake since he filled out a survey in protest and mailed it in. Now this, from another friend. She took a photo of her new NRA membership on her computer screen. This came to her unsolicited. I know that, in order to belong to some gun clubs, you must become an NRA member even if you don't want to. I have a friend who shoots at a local gun club and had to buy a membership in order to belong to the club. He regularly sends the organization his comments since he does not agree with their extreme views. But he is a member nonetheless by necessity and not by choice. Seriously folks, this is more proof that the NRA has had to inflate it's numbers by giving out unsolicited and/or free memberships to the organization that claims to be a powerful and uber lobbying group.


I have a theory. It is that the NRA has actually lost a lot of members in recent years. Because of it's extreme positions and it's very political nature, many reasonable gun owners have opted not to have an NRA membership. That is the case with a lot of gun owners who I know. One way to bulk up your numbers is to give away free memberships and even make people who don't want to be members of your organization. Then when you lobby Congress, you get to say that you have 4+ million members and you remind them that they shouldn't mess you with you because you represent that many people. 


So, if the NRA is as powerful as they claim, why would their Executive V.P. Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox, Executive Director of the NRA-ILA ( the lobbying arm of the NRA) write this petulant letter to President Obama refusing to participate in meetings about gun issues and reasonable measures to stop American citizens from being shot? The tone of the letter is rude and impertinent- something unusual in a communication with the President of the United States. But the NRA doesn't  respect anyone who disagrees with them. Rudeness and provocativeness is the way of the NRA. And why are they afraid to meet with gun control organizations and the President? Here is the claim-" We welcome any serious discussion on policies that focus on prosecuting criminals and fixing deficiencies in the mental health system. Any proposals to the contrary are not a legitimate approach to the issue." Well then, Oz has spoken. What happens when the curtain is drawn and Oz is found to be just an ordinary little man, in costume, with no more authority or integrity than any one else about this issue? I believe there is a crack in the curtains and we are getting a peek into who is pulling the strings. It is not Oz- it is an organization that refuses to engage with the other side and refuses to consider any measures whatsoever that dare to even mention the word gun. It is an organization that operates to fund itself and buy influence and power in the halls of Congress and our state legislatures. And do remember that the "Wizard of Oz" leaves Dorothy's dream land in a hot air balloon. Such was not a coincidence. Filled with "hot air", Oz is revealed as someone who does not have power after he fooled his kingdom as well as Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, and the Scare Crow for quite a while.


Further, the NRA is afraid of something else. Could it be this? "Now conservatives do their best to delay meetings at the White House, or they just outright refuse, as LaPierre did. Why? I think it's partly because Obama scored such obvious public opinion wins at both the retreat and the summit. He's mastered the art of controlling the conversation and sounding like a voice of reason in settings like this, and conservatives — especially tea party conservatives — don't trust themselves any longer to come out ahead when they're negotiating with him. They now consider even closed-door meetings at the White House to be traps, and they are, to put it bluntly, afraid of Obama."


Remember how the Wizard of Oz ends? Dorothy clicks her ruby slippers with intervention from the good witch and "goes home" to Kansas. This isn't Kansas, Dorothy, and we don't have any magical ruby red slippers. We also know that Oz is not who he says he is and can't stop progress. Something is going to come of the President meeting with organizations who care about gun violence prevention. I hope the President will be emboldened by the NRA's letter and refusal rather than retreating from the issue because of fear of the "4.5 million" member strong organization. If the NRA and it's members are wise, they will be involved with the solution. If they decide to sit it out like a stubborn and revengeful child, they may not like the solutions. Common sense just might actually prevail. 

62 comments:

  1. The NRA is happy to grab all the "members" they can.

    As far as the gun clubs go, that's an insurance thing. Since NRA members have AD&D included, it helps the gun club's insurance rates when all club members belong to the NRA.

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  2. Does that membership card have a membership number and an expiration date on it?

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  3. a message to asdf- your comments will not be published on my blog. I don't accept name calling and rude remarks directed at me personally. Don't bother to send any more.

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  4. Hmmm. Most people actually "make" a case before they rest it.

    Nice try, though. Even if NRA's numbers were only 1/10th of their claim, they still have orders of magnitude more than Brady, VPC, and MAIG combined. And they don't need a Joyce Foundation sugar daddy to survive, and indeed thrive.

    McCarty's bill is DOA, as well it should be. I know it. You know it. The President knows it. And all the huffing and puffing in the world won't change it.

    Here's a simple question: do you accept that the 2nd Amendment protects (NOT "grants") a human right to "keep and bear arms?" Until you can honestly answer that one an unequivocal "yes," we frankly have no common ground at all.

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  5. First of all, it's McCarthy and just because you say it doesn't mean it's true. You may be right but we'll see. Secondly, the NRA has a lot of sugar daddies of it's own. Those "members" can't fund the life style of the 3-4 people at the top of the organization and the large office building.

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  6. For those wondering, let me direct you to actual, ummmm, facts; something japete is so often in such short supply of.

    http://www.snowflakesinhell.com/2011/03/16/no-such-thing-as-an-nra-membership-giveaway/#comments

    Read both, and decide who has more credibility . . . .
    assuming, of course, japete has the stones, so to speak, to publish this. If she's doing her usual self-serving censorship, of course, then japete is the only one who will read this.

    - your friendly "anonymous lawyer"

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  7. Interesting anonymous lawyer- " Associate Members do not receive a magazine, " My friend has been getting the NRA magazine. And I assume these "associate" members are counted as members by the NRA for the purpose of inflating their numbers.

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  8. Let's address some of these comments:

    "I have been told that you can get a complimentary NRA membership when you attend a gun show"

    Some gun shows work with recruiters. You've got a $25 show entry price, and the exhibiter waves the entrance fee for those who sign up as first time NRA members.

    It is the gun show that is sacrificing some of it's profits to support the organization.


    "Also, the NRA gives memberships away on it's website."
    The NRA has from time to time offered promotions for free Associate Memberships. These are non-voting memberships. And basically, are for the purpose of getting the individual connected with the NRA, receiving newsletters, etc.


    "I wrote about my friend who is now considered to be a member of the NRA by mistake since he filled out a survey in protest and mailed it in."

    Actually, they're not considered a member of the NRA. If the NRA counted every expired membership, every survey contact, etc. They'd have tens of millions of members and not just 4 million.


    " I have a friend who shoots at a local gun club and had to buy a membership in order to belong to the club. "

    As the NRA does more for gun clubs and shooting sports than any other organization in the world. It is not surprising that many clubs mandate joint membership. Beyond the mere political scope, the NRA is also a marksmanship and training organization. In fact, a huge proportion of our police and law enforcement are trained through NRA affiliated programs. The vast majority of citizens who carry are trained through NRA affiliated programs. The NRA also provides hundreds of thousands of dollars in the form of grants to ranges, 4H clubs, Boy Scouts of America and other youth programs.


    "But he is a member nonetheless by necessity and not by choice."

    He can always choose a different gun club. Or simply choose NOT to shoot.

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  9. "I have a theory. It is that the NRA has actually lost a lot of members in recent years."

    I wouldn't bet on that theory. Just from the recent growth of NRA Annual Meeting attendance one would be hard pressed to buy into that theory. Especially, with the growing numbers of women joining both the NRA and shooting sports.



    "Because of it's extreme positions and it's very political nature, many reasonable gun owners have opted not to have an NRA membership."

    Ironically, the number one reason I've heard gun owners complain about the NRA is not, as you would put it, it's extreme positions. But rather, many criticized the NRA for compromising too much in the past.


    "write this petulant letter to President Obama"

    Because, the NRA sees nothing to gain from sitting down at a table surrounding by anti-gunners who are simply going to bash them and try to collect sound bites.


    ---

    Lastly, might I ask what difference it makes?

    If NRA membership were free. How would that change any relationship at all. They'd still be members.

    As for the associate memberships, why shouldn't they be counted. They still chose to join.

    What should scare the likes of the Brady campaign is just how many NRA members are actually dues paying members.

    Free, associate - it doesn't matter. They chose to join. And if a few individuals have joined reluctantly because their gun clubs require it. Clearly, their views against are not strong enough to motivate them to give up said club in exchange for standing by their views and not joining the NRA.

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  10. Just a couple of responses to NUGUN- first- my friend would not be an expired member until he tells the NRA to take his name off the list. I suspect that they use those members anyway. Who's checking? As for my friend who likes to shoot at the local club- it is the only one in the area. You guys would say that everybody needs to have access to these places to exercise their second amendment rights. How do you square your answer with that idea? I thought you wanted as many people as possible to be shooting their guns.

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  11. You must have missed my point NUGUN- the NRA uses all of these "members" no matter how they procured them- as a lobbying tactic. They want to "impress" Congress with their large numbers. That is the point. My theory is that the NRA does not have as many true members as they say they do.

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  12. Well I can only say I have never heard of a free membership in my 35+ active years. I have 6 members in my home, 2 life and others are annual at 25 bucks a year. I bought a couple memberships for some US Coast Guard members a couple years ago, so it was free for them, I guess, but I put membership in their name, with my credit card for one year. I only kept in touch with one, he is still a member.
    Each member gets a membership number, even the Life/Patron/Benefactor members. The number is prominently displayed on the membership card.
    But there is tons of ways to give extra money and I do my share each year after tax time.
    I think you might be wrong, Miss.
    Does your friends card have a membership number on it? Easy to check.

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  13. So your hypothesis is that the NRA is a paper tiger? OK.

    As long as they continue to represent my views in the federal and state legislatures, and as long as they continue their established record of successes (ie. blocking legislation that would infringe our right to arms, and passing legislation that would restore our right to arms) ... it is fine by me that you think they are a paper tiger.

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  14. Joan:

    I would direct you to NRA's form 990 for 2009. It's rather long, but you will note a section on page 9 of the form titled "Membership dues" and it is listed as income in the amount of 113,969,660 dollars. An NRA membership is 35 dollars. If you do the math, that comes out to 3.3 million people who paid dues in 2009. Not all NRA members pay annual dues. I paid for a life membership, so I don't pay annual dues. In addition anyone buying 5 years up front won't show up on the balance sheet every year. I don't know how many life members are out there exactly, but I know it's at least several hundred thousand. Lots of members also pay for more than one year at a time. So this also does not point to NRA inflating its membership numbers.

    Your friend did not receive a free membership. Not even an associate membership. NRA can't create a category of free member. If they did, I could sue them for violating their bylaws. So could any other member in good standing. NRA has done promotions where people had their first year's membership deferred, but there's no such thing as an NRA membership where you don't have to pay dues, or a buy a life membership.

    Your friend might be confusing a newsletter with their magazine (American Rifleman, American Hunter, or America's First Freedom), though it's possible they are doing a promotion I'm not aware of. NRA recruiters do work gun shows to sign up members, but you have to pay for them. NRA does do lots of promotional gimmicks to attract members.

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  15. A 'Theory' has evidence to support it and has been tested and reviewed.

    You have a hypothesis w. made up of personal beliefs.

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  16. I have not checked about a membership number. One friend got the card in the mail after returning a survey and the other received it via the internet for some reason. It shows, as you can see on my post, in the photo. I don't think I"m wrong. These are free and unsolicited memberships. They also give them to some people at gun shows and on their web site.

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  17. Sebastian- I would think that these could be one year trial memberships but my point is still that they get counted on the rolls- paying or not.

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  18. Yes- all right- a hypothesis.

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  19. japete said... "I don't think I"m wrong. These are free and unsolicited memberships."

    Joan, I am an NRA member. I was for years as a kid (I liked the hunting magazine), and then let it lapse, and now have been a member (again) for years. Although I have heard of unsolicited membership offers, I have never, ever heard of free memberships. With all due respect I also think you are wrong on this.

    As an aside, what would be the consequence if you are wrong? That the NRA would have a somewhat larger membership than you would like to believe? In the end, I don't really comprehend the significance of your hypothesis.

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  20. There are really no consequences one way or the other. I am just offering my hypothesis based on what is happening with some of my friends. It leads me to understand that the NRA is not actually as large and powerful as they claim to be. I am writing this for many people other than you guy guys so I am trying to get an understanding of who the NRA really is.

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  21. Joan,

    You do realize, don't you, that the item you have displayed at the top of this post is not a membership card. It's the same kind of advertisement as when a credit card company sends you a pre-approved card with a demo graphic of how it will look, or a check that can be cashed conditional of accepting the credit card.

    That picture in no way, shape, or form represents a membership.

    I would like you very much to respond to this, as I think it's important to understand.

    Thanks,

    R.R.

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  22. Thank you, R.R. If it is not a membership "card" it sure as heck looks like something that indicates that she now has a temporary membership, which was unsolicited. How does something like this get sent to someone? I realize that credit card companies and other businesses send things like this. Usually this does not come from an organization soliciting membership. I am writing an opinion here based on the experience of some of my friends. I know you don't agree with my opinion. That goes without saying.

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  23. I get so many cards from the NRA and NRA-ILA that I probably now have a full deck. I also got a free coin once and a free DVD. The NRA does like to mail stuff. I also buy my membership in five year increments, so I wouldn't appear on the above form 990.

    If your friend's card has a membership number, and I don't think it might because I tend to agree with R.R., then type the name and membership number on that card into this website.

    If your friend can login, then your friend is a member. Simple way to test your hypothesis. This link will also tell you when the membership expires. Please let us know how that goes...

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  24. Just look at they money figures for memberships. The money doesn't lie, unless you also think tax fraud is a part of this conspiracy to inflate member numbers.

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  25. Sebastian- I am not saying that the figures are wrong on the form. I am saying that the free memberships given out are added to the paid memberships already there to make for an inflated number. That's my theory or hypothesis or whatever the heck you want to call it.

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  26. Maybe this is the reason for declining the meeting.

    "WASHINGTON -- Faced with a Congress hostile to even slight restrictions of Second Amendment rights, the Obama administration is exploring potential changes to gun laws that can be secured strictly through executive action, administration officials say."

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/15/obama-gun-laws-congress_n_836138.html

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  27. Sebastian- I am not saying that the figures are wrong on the form. I am saying that the free memberships given out are added to the paid memberships already there to make for an inflated number. That's my theory or hypothesis or whatever the heck you want to call it.

    NRA claims approximately 4.3 million members.

    The form 990 clearly shows that there are on the order of 3.3 million members before accounting for the others. So at most, 25% of the membership (or 1 million) people need to be accounted for.

    Honorary Memberships: 3 per year * 50 years or so of people alive = 150
    Life Members: I couldn't find good numbers on this. I suppose you could always write to NRA and ask. A life membership costs $1000, or about three decades worth of regular dues (actually, worth more due to the future value of money--I'd prefer to have $1K right up from rather than $35 a year for 30 years, wouldn't you?). That tells me that NRA thinks that the person buying the membership will be around for a few decades. It is not implausible to think that there are tens of thousands of life members out there.
    Discount Memberships: A lot of spouses get associate memberships because the household is already getting a magazine. There are also substantial discounts for junior members, disabled veterans, older people, and so on.

    I don't find the number of ~4.5 million to be terribly implausible. I think there are probably a ton of associate and youth memberships. If even one in five full members also has a spouse and a kid or two on the rolls then that will make up the extra million members quite quickly. We're certainly in the ballpark. The actual number may be plus or minus 10% but we aren't out in left field.

    Re memberships being required to shoot: I have no problem with it. It is an insurance thing. NRA provides a valuable service. People willingly pay for that service. Private ranges can choose who they allow to use their facility. At my range, if you aren't an NRA member, you can also pay a higher daily rate that covers the insurance requirements. It isn't like we're demanding that NRA membership be required for public ranges. Ironically, if your side didn't try to suppress public shooting ranges -- often paid for by shooters by means of Pittman-Roberts funds, at that -- then maybe shooters would have more options to go shooting without having to be members. We have two ranges near Anchorage; the public one run by the state has no NRA requirement (nor should it).

    \\

    Meanwhile, Brady Campaign has around 50K members on the rolls and only around half of those have ponied up money in the last 12 months.

    So much for the "million moms." Back in 2004, the President of the Brady Campaign claimed about "half a million" members. So, either the membership rolls have dropped dramatically since '04, or 90% of the Brady Campaign members were imaginary (and 95% weren't willing to write a check).

    Whereas NRA's members seem to be accurate plus or minus 10%, Brady's numbers seem to be accurate plus or minus one thousand percent. Hrm.

    But that's fine, believe whatever you want to believe. The members will keep writing checks, and politicians can ignore those votes and checks at their peril.

    Cheers,
    Chris from AK

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  28. "As for my friend who likes to shoot at the local club- it is the only one in the area. You guys would say that everybody needs to have access to these places to exercise their second amendment rights. How do you square your answer with that idea? I thought you wanted as many people as possible to be shooting their guns."

    Second amendment rights? If it's a private club, they can make whatever requirements they want, so it's not a second amendment issue. Just like how a business can forbid firearms on their property. Their property rights let them say who or what may enter.

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  29. First off, I think you are probably a very nice lady. I also think you are very sincere about your beliefs. However, I do not agree with your views.

    I think the major groups advocating gun-control are deceitful. They manipulate people's minds by presenting fallaciously reasoned arguments that amount to little more than propaganda techniques designed to persuade people to adopt their cause. They appeal to the emotions rather than reason.

    I am a firm believer in the 2nd Amendment. Up to this point I have refrained from joining the NRA, but have decided to soon join. This is mostly because I came to the conclusion that the esteemed leader of our country advocates the restriction of the 2nd Amendment as much as possible. This, even after the McDonald decision. He obviously shares the same viewpoints as the above mentioned groups because he repeats their ill-defined terms word for word.

    While I do not completely agree with the NRA, they seem to be the only group willing to fight on a national level for salvaging what is left of this Right. They are able to see reality, while the anti-gun groups use artifice to reach their goals.

    Personally, I believe their membership numbers because I think the vast majority of Americans see folly in the gun-control scheme.

    Respectfully yours,

    Mark

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  30. Wow you got a blank member card in the mail, and you will get a real one once you accept yhe terms of membership, i.e. send them a check for yout dues.

    If you truely think this is a free membership, and not just a soliciation for membership. A.K.A. a bulk mail marketing campaign, you are an idiot.

    If this is the case I am got a free membership to all these organizations this year:
    AAA
    AARP
    National Parks Foundation
    Rails to Trails
    Sierra Club
    The Nature Conservancy

    If you think this is an acutal membership card and not a marketing piece, then I respectfully request the next time a credit card company sends you a generic plastic credit card in a marketing letter that you go out and try to buy something with it.

    You people are grabbing at straws like Rosie O'Donnell in a milkshake shop.

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  31. What I take from this discussion is that the supposed 4 million members of the NRA, if there really are that many, are not all acvite and interested in gun rights. This applies to gun owners at large, even more so I would imagine.

    Pro-gun folks are continually citing the 4 million and the 80 million as if they all stand together, but the truth is the guys citing those numbers are a tiny fraction who are extremists and fanatics. They try to give their ideas false credibility with the numbers.

    japete is very right in pointing this out.

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  32. That is not a membership card.

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  33. "What I take from this discussion is that the supposed 4 million members of the NRA, if there really are that many, are not all acvite and interested in gun rights. This applies to gun owners at large, even more so I would imagine."

    Polls that ask people if they're a member of the NRA yield results that would extrapolate to a membership of around 10 million.

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  34. As far as I know, some of the groups that sent you a free membership card to require you to pay for it.AAA for example, costs a lot more than an NRA membership and you have to pay that to be a member. I certainly do. I don't think they give out free anythings. The NRA sends out their magazine to people along with this free membership. Perhaps that will end once this person does not send in the membership fee. But while he is on the rolls, I am quite sure they are counting him as a member for purposes of lobbying and letting you and many others know that they represent millions of people- which they do. There is no denial on my part about that. We know the NRA has millions of members. But what kind of members are they? I am submitting to you that there are a fair number who are there because they must be to be a part of a shooting club or because they received their memberships unsolicited.

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  35. Wow- jdege- you have just inflated the numbers even more.

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  36. The picture of the "membership card" says "Your permanent membership card will be sent upon receipt of your acceptance..." meaning of course that if you send in your dues, you'll get an official card. I'm sure you've seen those before from credit card companies, so why present it as evidence?

    My first year of NRA membership was a gift from a gun magazine for subscribing. When I re-subscribed, I used the gift membership for my brother. We've both continued our NRA memberships since then. You may not be aware but there are several sellers of firearms accessories that offer free or reduced memberships with a purchase. There is also the NRA "Add a buck" program, which allows a buyer to add a dollar or something to their order as a donation to the NRA. A dollar here and a dollar there adds up eventually.

    "But he is a member nonetheless by necessity and not by choice."

    I don't think you know just how right you are with this comment. The NRA helps defend ranges from a wide variety of harassment. There are noise complains from encroaching housing, even though the ranges were often in existence decades before the houses were built. There are also frivolous lawsuits which allege lead poisoning, despite evidence to the contrary.

    Personally I feel that if your friend wants to use the range, he should have to contribute to it's protection. I presume he is one of those gun owners who still believes in the whole "Legitimate Sporting Purpose" of the second amendment, despite all evidence to the contrary. Some of those gun owners we may never be able to pursuade, but if he doesn't like it, go find another place to shoot.

    "Then when you lobby Congress, you get to say that you have 4+ million members and you remind them that they shouldn't mess you with you because you represent that many people."

    Actually what I think persuades Congress the most is the numbers on election night. Really it doesn't matter how many members the NRA has, or even how many letters they write or money they donate...

    What matters is the numbers when the election returns are presented.

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  37. A few more points:

    1. Do you honestly believe that the President and lawmakers are so stupid that they would be afraid of paper tigers? Isn't it possible that the President, with access to the NSA and FBI, can verify the actual membership numbers for himself and independently verify the political effectiveness of the NRA? Surely they must see membership numbers, and political activity, greater than the Brady Campaign, VPC, and MAIG combined, otherwise the NRA would be ignored just like those other groups are.

    2. Jedge is correct. Polls work by taking a statistical sample of the population. If you could poll everyone, it wouldn't be a poll, it would be fact. So for every NRA member out there, there are certainly many more that have decided not to be members but might share the NRA's view, or worse for you, more extreme views. JPFO comes to mind. There's also the more moderate but highly respected SAF. Then there's the GOA, and so on. The NRA does not represent every gun owner that is offended by the Brady Campaign, VPC, and MAIG, but they are the 800 pound gorilla in that crowd. 10 million actually sounds a bit low considering the number of legally owned guns in the country.

    3. I wasn't coerced into my NRA membership and I don't see people signing up at my gun club for an NRA membership on New Members days, most likely because they were NRA members before they decided to join the club.

    4. I just got an NRA-ILA Alert email for an important bill that will be voted on next Monday. A letter to my representative is next after this post. This is exactly why I joined the NRA and why I contribute even more to the NRA-ILA. I think this is what the lawmakers and President truly respect.

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  38. "They also give them to some people at gun shows and on their web site. "

    They don't give anything away at the gun shows. Here is how it works. A gun show will typically have a entrance fee, say $10. The NRA will have a recruiting promotion, where for $30 you get a year's membership plus entrance to the gun show. This is less than the $45 you would pay if you paid the regular $35 for membership and $10 for the gun show entrance.

    It's not the pay $10 to the gun show and get a free NRA membership as you seem to be insinuating.

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  39. Chris from AK- the Brady Campaign does have "members" but they mostly rely on annual donations. We do not have card carrying members like the NRA. That is less important than making sure people donate and sign petitions, send e-mails, etc. which they do in large numbers. So comparing memberships would be apples to oranges. Other gvp organizations also raise money and have supporters but we usually don't call them members. We have e-mail lists and donor lists and mailing lists that include supporters who are not really members of the organization. In that way, we work differently than the NRA.

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  40. Yes, Migo- that is why I am on the e-mail lists as well. I get all kinds of action alerts to contact my reps and Senators from several different organizations. That is a very effective way of getting supporters to let Congress know how they feel. Those polls also include gun owners who support what my side is doing. There are lots of those out there. That is revealed in the polls and in anecdotal information.

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  41. "... the other received it via the internet for some reason. It shows, as you can see on my post, in the photo. I don't think I"m wrong. These are free and unsolicited memberships."

    The screenshot shows that a card, i.e. proof of membership, will be sent upon receipt of agreement, i.e. contract and payment. The New York Times keeps sending me nearly identical offers, but that does not mean I get the Times for free or even that I am included in their subscriber numbers.

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  42. Does the NY Times use those numbers to lobby Congress?

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  43. japete said: "...and the other received it via the internet for some reason."

    Does your friend shop at any online retailers who share their customer lists with the NRA?

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  44. Joan,

    There are 1.5+ million voting (Life and paid Annual for 5+ years straight) members in the NRA that are sent ballots every year. The bulk of the 4+ million are $35 Annual members. The number of "Associate" members, who still have to send in a response to become so not merely receive it, are inconsequential in the total.

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  45. don't know that's a good question, actually.

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  46. japete,

    The polling Chris cites is from multiple sources and was not sponsored by the NRA, (Zogby Google-cached page here)

    http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:jAB_r579KW8J:www.zogby.com/soundbites/ReadClips.cfm%3FID%3D19524+nra+membership+zogby&cd=12&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&source=www.google.com

    It states, and I quote...

    "Now, there are 21 million American voters nationwide who consider themselves to be NRA members, and so an average of nearly 50,000 voters in any district are likely to admire an NRA endorsement. (Note: That 21 million is according to Zogby, Gallup and Harris polling, and does not represent dues paying members.)"

    The actual 4+ million number is hardly any sort of "overstatement" of real influence.

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  47. Yup- this is a trustworthy source all right- "O'Leary's circle of Washington friends reads like a who's who of the GOP power brokers." " and " In addition to authoring travel books, he's authored a number of political books, including Presidential Follies, which Human Events called "as one-sided and impertinent as all getout, and yet it's also acute, knowing and percipient, not to mention wonderfully readable." The book recounts Bill Clinton's 1994 mid-term election disaster – an event which resulted in Esquire magazine in 1995 naming Mr. O'Leary as one of the principal architects of the political defeats suffered by President Clinton that year and led to a Clinton-inspired IRS investigation of Mr. O'Leary."
    and then this- " Most recently Mr. O'Leary authored best-seller, Audacity of Deceit: Barack Obama's War on American Values, and followed up that success with Shut Up America! The End of Free Speech."

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  48. "Yup- this is a trustworthy source all right"

    And you maintain that this is somehow less trustworthy than a MAIG poll?

    It is somewhat puzzling to me, however, that this poll would in fact be so pro-NRA if it is simply a case of right wing bias as you suggest...

    The NRA considers itself a bipartisan organization and supports candidates from both sides of the aisle. Some noteworthy Democrats the NRA supports include Sens. Reid, Tester, and Baucus, as well as Rep. Giffords.

    True, there is more support for GOP candidates than on the left, but whose fault is that? If Democrats want more NRA support, they have only to earn that right.

    This past election brought forth a lot of frustration from NRA members because the organization rewarded pro-gun Democrats with endorsements, despite supporting the otherwise radical left wing agenda in the 2008-2010 years.

    I may not like it either, but when you are strictly a single issue organization, you must reward loyalty where it can be found.

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  49. You're kidding me, right?

    The NRA sends out those black cards in nearly everything they send out. It's the equivalent of those fake credit cards you get in the mail that say, "Your name could be here!"

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  50. Joan,

    So you're saying Zogby, Harris and Gallup are all consistently lying about the polls they took independently of each other, at different times, and independently of the NRA or other pro-gun organizations? (these were election polls)

    'Attacking the source' is only a valid critical method if you attack at the actual source, the polls (or studies), their sponsors and, most importantly, their methodology or lack thereof.

    Merely attacking a given web page on which the results of the poll, or study, etc. happen to be reported is meaningless in judging any study or poll's credibility or scientific or logical validity.

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  51. I know the NRA has had free trial memberships in the past. Regardless of whether or not these are counted as dues paying members--I doubt they are but regardless, there will be more NRA members show up in Pittsburgh April 30-May2 than Brady, MAIG and VPC has in total members on the whole planet.

    And that is part of the reason that McCarthy's bill will not see daylight.

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  52. Matthew- I guess 2 can play the game.

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  53. I think you would be amused to know that the $113,969,660 dues figure that Sebastian mentioned is *not* available to the NRA for political shenanigans. Since it is dues, it goes to things like publishing their magazine, running hunting and gun safety courses, and supporting gun ranges.

    The NRA uses a separate fund (the NRA-ILA), which people must donate to separately, to do overt political things, such as lobby Congress, or support lawsuits, or put out alerts to members. Thus, the political power of the NRA comes from those members who are concerned about such things--and yet, they *still* seem to have a lot of power.

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  54. Joan,

    I'm not sure what you mean.

    When gun-rights supporters criticize factual (mis-)statements made by the VPC, MAIG or Brady we cite to the actual studies (polls, etc), not sponsored by the NRA or other gun rights groups (by DOJ, CDC major universities, etc), done with solid scientific methodology and published and critiqued in peer-reviewed professional criminological and sociological journals so people can go look at the data and math themselves and make up their own minds.

    In the most recent instance, VPC does a Google search and represents it as some sort of scientifically valid "study" of concealed permit holders and crime rather than, oh, I don't know, presenting the actual state-collected data on the subject.

    When they do cite to studies they carefully leave out information that gives context and meaning to the information and typically don't link back to the actual numbers (because that would make the lie obvious).

    It's apples and oranges.

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  55. VPC uses facts in their reports.

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  56. Anecdotes are facts; that doesn't make them statistically significant data gathered in a methodologically sound manner as part of scientifically meaningful, repeatable, published study or poll.

    When policy decisions related to fundamental rights are at issue contextually meaningless, statistically insignificant collections of factual anecdotes should not be given the same weight as rigorous, professionally performed, peer-reviewed and scientifically meaningful studies.

    For whatever it's worth VPC admittedly has the former, but no "common sense" gun control proposal currently at issue is supported by the latter.

    That too is a fact.

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  57. I don't know if anyone else already pointed this out. However, in reality it doesn't matter precisely how many members NRA has. What matters is that lots of gun owners vote on that issue. If NRA claimed 10, or a billion, members it doesn't change the fact that when a politician, outside of certain geographic areas, says "gun control is awesome!" they lose their election.

    Joan,
    I've asked this of you before. Where is the grass roots support for gun control? The rallies? The protests in the street? Where is your vocal support outside of the halls of your organizations buildings and the Joyce center?

    Wasn't it the VPC we took apart in a previous thread? Haven't they already been proven to be a bit... loose.. with their "facts"?

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  58. Atrius- just because you don't see things happening doesn't mean they aren't.

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  59. @Japete "expired member until he tells the NRA to take his name off the list."

    Really, cause I've received lots of notices regarding my wife's expired membership. We're just not in the financial position to renew it the past couple of years.



    "You guys would say that everybody needs to have access to these places to exercise their second amendment rights. How do you square your answer with that idea?"

    Considering the NRA is one of the foremost organizations in helping to preserve access to such facilities. And the fact that it assists with the insurance of such facilities. And lastly, the fact that the NRA is an open membership, so anyone can join. If your friend does not like the stances of the NRA, they can vote to make a difference. Just as we do within the American system.


    "As for my friend who likes to shoot at the local club- it is the only one in the area"

    Another case in point. As anti-gunners and developers try to shut down shooting clubs, usually due to noise and nearby new housing developments. A shortage of clubs has occurred.

    The NRA is one of a handful of organizations helping to protect clubs right to exist where they've existed, sometimes for a nearly a 100 years.


    ---

    "My theory is that the NRA does not have as many true members as they say they do."

    Well, my first question is, what evidence do you have of that. A number of your statements do not seem to add up to my own personal experiences.

    My wife's membership expired. Now she still receives mailings from the NRA. But such does not correspond to membership. I've made donations to charities, been members of organizations - and 10 yrs later still receive their newsletters and solicitations. That's the nature of both sales and fund raisings. You try to never lose a name or contact.


    ---

    Japate - The seemingly free membership card you are referring to is a promotional piece, not an actual card. My wife received one of those, it's basically "You're membership has expired. Send your dues payment and we'll get your real membership card out to you shortly."

    It's kind of like when you get the flyer from the local car dealership and it includes a real key. It's just a promotional gimmick, it's designed to remind you that your old card is expired and it's time to renew.


    ---

    Sebastian has shown you that the NRA's 4 million member number is not off base. He showed you the financials of the dues. Which corresponded to approx. 3 million members. When you factor in how many are "life" members and do not need to pay. I would not be surprised if the membership is actually fast approaching 5 million members.

    The math that Sebastian provides basically equates pretty right on to the NRA's claimed membership levels.

    I wager that if you counted every associate, expired membership that the NRA has on the rolls, you'be be easily looking at 6-8 million.

    --

    "Polls that ask people if they're a member of the NRA yield results that would extrapolate to a membership of around 10 million."

    That's about right. As I'd wager 10 million is about the number of both ACTIVE and INACTIVE NRA members. I was more conservative with my 6-8 million estimate.

    --


    "I am submitting to you that there are a fair number who are there because they must be to be a part of a shooting club or because they received their memberships unsolicited. "

    If by "unsolicited" you mean both "gifted" memberships paid by friends and family, and those who did not want such a gift. And forced, as in "my club requires it" although I oppose the organization.

    I'd wager you're talking about couple thousand at best. Out of 4 million. That's fairly insignificant.

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  60. "We do not have card carrying members like the NRA. That is less important than making sure people donate and sign petitions, send e-mails, etc. which they do in large numbers."

    Well there's half your problems. a) petitions are pretty extinct these days thanks to "email your congressman". b) Blast, if I was going to join the Brady Campaign as a regular donor to the cause, I'd sure a heck want a membership card.

    I mean, even when I joined the National Aquarium in Baltimore, they gave me a membership card.

    See, now you know why you are having such a difficult time raising funds and keeping members. I mean, I can join/renew with the NRA and get a nice little pocket knife. Now, granted that might not appeal to your members. But give 'em some swag.

    Maybe a bottle opener/cork puller. ;-)

    --

    "Does the NY Times use those numbers to lobby Congress?"

    Actually, they do...sort of. Not so much Congress, but their advertisers.

    Even when we cancel the newspaper, we will occasionally get a free issue. This is done for two reasons. 1) To try to entice us to subscribe again. 2) Much more compelling reason, because then they can show a much higher circulation number to advertisers. And solicit greater advertising $$$.

    --

    "VPC uses facts in their reports."


    Facts does not equate to either honest presentation or meaningful correlation.

    Example: It could be a fact that there are more google results of type x than type y. But that does not mean that more x exist than type y.

    Example 2: I might be able to show a statistic that more people die during the day than at night. Such does not mean that the sun kills people. Though the presentation of the data could be made to insinuate that hypothesis.


    --

    Japate - In order to help get to the bottom of this, could you please post complete photos of the cards with only the names blacked out. Then we could tell if the cards are real membership cards or not.

    There is one other possibility for your friend. Someone else might be paying for their membership.


    ==============

    @mikeb302000

    "but the truth is the guys citing those numbers are a tiny fraction who are extremists and fanatics."

    Thanks for a rational and engaging discussion. But I think you're somewhat mistaken.

    4 million or so are the dedicated. They're the ones willing to put their $$$ where their mouth is. The 80 million are the casual...which usually means "just focused on putting food on the table for my family and their well-being".

    Probably about 120,000 are extreme or fanatical. By this, we can deem these as people who are actively working politically and socially to protect our civil rights.


    And another 3,600 are blessed. (ie: the small handful of gun owners who actually get paid to help defend our rights).

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  61. No one has shut down any shooting clubs in my area. There just isn't much interest I guess.

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