Op-Ed: NRA Political Arm

at Odds with NRA Members

Greg Orman

March 19, 2018

Twice a week, my wife participates in a swim program. On February 15, she came home crying. That morning, as she swam laps, she couldn’t shake the sadness that had overcome her after the school shooting in Parkland, Fla. She was deeply affected by the loss of life. She also contemplated how she could talk to our almost 3-year-old daughter about what to do if the unthinkable were to happen at her preschool. She felt compelled to get involved. 

Parkland has clearly motivated millions of people to take up the cause of firearm safety. This reaction is stronger than past responses to school shootings. In the long arc of history, however, Parkland is not new. The tragedies mount up, remembered by Americans in a litany of place-names: Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook Elementary School, Sutherland Springs’ First Baptist Church, Mother Emanuel, Pulse nightclub and the Las Vegas Strip. I think it’s becoming apparent to millions of Americans, including many gun owners, that we need to do something different.

To be clear, I don’t want to take away anyone’s legally purchased firearm. I am a gun owner, and I certainly don’t want to impede those rights. But I also believe that we can proudly bear our arms and have responsible firearm laws. The safety of our children and citizens doesn’t have to be at odds with gun ownership. It doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive. 

Progress is difficult, because the issue is framed as a contest between the NRA and their Republican allies versus Democrats and gun control advocates. Doing so masks the real common ground that exists. It also places the issue in the middle of our zero-sum partisan politics, where progress is viewed through the lens of winners and losers. 

Having traveled the state of Kansas in 2014 and again this past year, I’ve met with people on all sides of this issue. I believe there is significant common ground among gun owners and non-gun owners alike. Here are a few things I’ve learned. 

For one thing, the political arm of the NRA doesn’t adequately represent the views of a majority of their members. The vast majority of NRA members and gun owners are responsible, patriotic people who obey the law and respect their neighbors and their communities. They also support reasonable gun safety measures. Many have handled firearms... Continue Reading.