All quotations and statistics are from the article “Targeting Success” by Kelly D. Patterson and Mathew M. Singer found in Interest Group Politics Seventh Edition edited by Allan J. Cigler and Burdett A. Loomis.
This will be broken up in a series of posts, hopefully, all of it will be up by the end of tonight.
The NRA and controversy:
The NRA is not immune to controversy from its members, statements, and timing. The most well-known controversies happened after the Oklahoma City bombing and Columbine.
The Oklahoma City bombing happened a week after the release of the NRA’s fundraising letter which described federal agents as “jack-booted government thugs” and as “Nazi storm troopers.” Membership declined because “mainstream gun owners grew concerned that the organization had become too antigovernment and ideologically extreme.” It took several years and a shake-up with the organization’s leadership for the organization to project a positive image. George Bush declined to renew his membership after that newsletter.
On April 20, 1999, the worst school shooting in United States history happened at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. As many people, especially anyone who has seen the movie Bowling for Columbine, know that the NRA annual convention was scheduled for the first week in May in Denver, Colorado. The mayor, Wellington Webb, of Denver had asked for the NRA to cancel the convention out of respect for the victims of the tragedy. The NRA scaled its convention back to one day and canceled a gun show, but the convention still happened. Eight thousand protesters marched in protest of the convention; only 2,500 NRA members attended the meeting.
Charlton Heston, president of the NRA at that time, stated, “We will not be silent or be told, ‘Do not come here, you are not welcome in your own land…’ What saddens me most is how that [about Webb’s request ] is how that suggest complicity. It implies that 80 million honest gun owners are somehow to blame, that we don’t care as much as they, or that we don’t deserve to be as shocked and horrified as every other soul in America mourning for the people of Littleton…We cannot, we must not let tragedy lay waste to the most rare, hard-won right in history.” One might quibble with his statements of how many gun owners there are or even that our 2nd Amendment rights are the most rare or most hard-won right in history. At any rate, Heston’s comments and the NRA’s decision to not cancel the convention struck many as insensitive.
Editor’s note: It originally said to not cancel the reservation. Someone is having trouble separating writing this and doing his job.