Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN News

Grassroots Power Trumps All

Thursday, August 15, 2013

 

The outcome of April’s Senate gun control debate has once again put our grassroots power on display. It’s never been a secret that NRA members are a political powerhouse, but the media are now analyzing our tactics like some kind of scientific discovery. Most get the story wrong, writing off our victories as due solely to campaign money, even though the NRA Political Victory Fund is by no means the biggest political action committee (PAC) in Washington—not even close.

But one recent analysis on Forbes.com was insightful. The author, Amy Showalter, began by saying, “I’m going to share with you five reasons the NRA won, and they have nothing to do with the often reported reasons like their PAC funds, their ability to turn out pro-gun voters in every legislative district, and the abundance of their skilled in-house and external lobbyists, although those are all true.”

Her first point was that all too many “grassroots” campaigns by other groups in Washington exist only online. She quoted one of our election volunteer coordinators telling an audience that “no one ever tripped on a bag of email.” That’s a great way of saying that many Washington veterans don’t trust purely online communications, because it’s difficult to verify their authenticity. An email can come from anywhere, and claim to be from anyone, but you know the origin of a handwritten letter. The return address confirms the presence of an educated constituent—who is also likely to be an informed voter—and the effort invested in drafting a personal letter shows a much higher level of dedication to a cause. Media types have long swooned over the Obama machine’s use of online resources, and there’s no doubt that online communications will be a growing part of our campaign arsenal. But when it comes to influencing lawmakers, excessive reliance on “social networks” may be a mirage.

That’s why Showalter cites “Investment in the power of face to face” as one of the reasons for NRA's success. “Being face to face communicates that you are willing to make an effort,” she writes, because “it increases your sincerity quotient.” She observes that “online advocacy is the lowest form of commitment” and quotes a veteran operative saying “so many people in this town push a button and think it’s real grassroots. It takes real people.” 

That illustrates why it’s important for NRA members to continue to communicate with our elected lawmakers in every possible forum, from personal meetings in the district office, to town hall meetings and even just a friendly “hello” at the local July 4 parade. If you plan a Washington, D.C., vacation, be sure to drop by their offices at the U.S. Capitol. Take every possible opportunity to thank your lawmakers for supporting your Second Amendment rights, or to express your disappointment if they have failed to protect them. Then follow up with a letter or phone call to remind lawmakers and their staffs of the reason for your interaction.

Showalter also notes the power of personal stories or anecdotes that illustrate the impact of proposed new restrictions. Our political opponents certainly rely on this tactic when they
use victims of violence to push their agenda. But when we illustrate that proposed restrictions could leave potential victims less able to defend themselves, we remind lawmakers that their votes can have real-world consequences that they may not intend.

The passion and intensity of our grassroots efforts are two other factors Showalter cites, and those in turn are driven by common ideals and values. I’ve met thousands of NRA members and I know that we all share the same core belief in freedom. The Second Amendment isn’t just a guarantee of one specific freedom; it represents a value system that goes far beyond gun ownership. As the old saying goes, “Gun control isn’t about guns. It’s about control.”

The intensity of our shared values is reflected in our knowledge base. Showalter notes that “the NRA volunteers know their stuff” and are “much more advanced and adept at persuasion” than other activists. That’s why a survey of lawmakers’ staff revealed that Capitol Hill staffers believe NRA members “back home are head and shoulders above other interest groups.” 

That’s a heck of a report card and every NRA member should be proud of it. Despite our opponents’ criticisms, we’ll never apologize for our members and supporters getting involved. But we didn’t get this far by resting on our laurels. We will be challenged again on Capitol Hill—maybe very soon. When that happens, we need to rise to the occasion as we always do, knowing that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance—and eternal readiness to act. 

TRENDING NOW
Kentucky: Committee to Consider Firearm Seizures Without Due Process

Friday, November 15, 2019

Kentucky: Committee to Consider Firearm Seizures Without Due Process

On Friday, November 22nd, the Kentucky state Interim Joint Committee on Judiciary will consider so called “red-flag laws.” Though no legislation has been introduced, such laws usually allow for Second Amendment rights to be suspended ...

NRA's Statement on Second Amendment Sanctuaries

News  

Friday, December 6, 2019

NRA's Statement on Second Amendment Sanctuaries

Read the NRA's statement on Second Amendment sanctuaries. “It is the tyrannical nature of politicians that triggers sanctuary, not the other way around...”

Virginia Police Chief Advocates Ban on All Guns at U.S. House “Assault Weapons” Hearing

News  

Friday, September 27, 2019

Virginia Police Chief Advocates Ban on All Guns at U.S. House “Assault Weapons” Hearing

On Sept. 25, the Democrat-led U.S. House Judiciary Committee held a 3 ½ hour “hearing” entitled “Protecting America From Assault Weapons.” That framing of the issue underscored the erroneous notion that Americans need protection from ...

Bloomberg Bought Virginia Legislators Introduce Confiscatory Gun Ban

News  

Monday, November 25, 2019

Bloomberg Bought Virginia Legislators Introduce Confiscatory Gun Ban

Michael Bloomberg’s bought and paid for Virginia legislators have wasted no time introducing legislation that would make the Old Dominion’s gun laws worse than those of the billionaire’s home state of New York.

Background Checks for Family Members?! Bloomberg-Bought Virginia Legislature Seeks to Ban Private Firearms Transfers

Friday, December 6, 2019

Background Checks for Family Members?! Bloomberg-Bought Virginia Legislature Seeks to Ban Private Firearms Transfers

Michael Bloomberg’s bought-and-paid-for new Virginia majorities have wasted no time introducing an extremist bill that would make the Commonwealth one of the most hostile states for law-abiding gun owners.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Florida Alert! "Assault Weapons" Ban Amendment Bans ALL SEMIAUTOMATIC RIFLES AND SHOTGUNS

The so-called "assault weapons" ban that is proposed for a constitutional amendment to be on the 2020 Election Ballot bans the possession of: “any semiautomatic rifle or shotgun CAPABLE of holding more than ten (10) rounds ...

NRA Files Joint Legal Challenge Against Firearm Storage Initiative Petition

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

NRA Files Joint Legal Challenge Against Firearm Storage Initiative Petition

On Friday, the National Rifle Association announced the filing of a joint legal challenge with the Oregon Hunters Association to contest Oregon Initiative Petition 40, which seeks to impose sweeping restrictions on the storage of ...

Joe Biden Wants to Ban 9mm Pistols

News  

Monday, November 25, 2019

Joe Biden Wants to Ban 9mm Pistols

A week after he told voters that the Second Amendment doesn’t protect “a magazine with a hundred clips in it,” 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden offered supporters more of his singular brand of anti-gun ...

Massachusetts: Hearing on Bill to Mandate Doctors Push State’s Anti-Gun Agenda

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Massachusetts: Hearing on Bill to Mandate Doctors Push State’s Anti-Gun Agenda

On December 10th, the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Public Health will hear House Bill 2005 to impose a mandatory requirement for doctors to ask patients about firearms in their homes and for the type of ...

NRA-Supported Case Heard by Supreme Court

News  

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

NRA-Supported Case Heard by Supreme Court

The National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) says this week’s Supreme Court hearing on a New York City gun control law could ultimately strengthen the ability of law-abiding citizens to exercise their Second ...

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.