NRA Explore
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
California: Governor Brown Takes Action on Final Firearm-Related Bills

Monday, September 26, 2016

California: Governor Brown Takes Action on Final Firearm-Related Bills

Today, Governor Brown made his decision on the final firearm-related bills of the 2016 legislative session that made it to his desk.   Governor Brown vetoed two anti-gun bills, AB 450 and SB 1332, and signed ...

Not The Victim Hillary Needs

News  

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Not The Victim Hillary Needs

This feature appears in the October ‘16 issue of NRA America’s 1st Freedom, one of the official journals of the National Rifle Association. “Why can’t everyone just have their DNA on file? Then it would ...

California: Referendum Update

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

California: Referendum Update

On behalf of the National Rifle Association (NRA), we would like to thank all of the volunteers and individuals who participated in the Veto Gunmageddon ballot referendum qualification effort.  Despite the tremendous efforts of all involved, ...

Hillary: Contempt For The Truth And American Freedom

News  

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Hillary: Contempt For The Truth And American Freedom

There is no greater danger to American liberty and to the security of our nation than a Hillary Clinton administration. To see the future if Clinton were to take the White House, look no further ...

Trump: The Official NRA Q&A

News  

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Trump: The Official NRA Q&A

This year’s race for the White House is like no other in our history. Hillary Clinton has made it clear that, if elected, she will come after our firearm freedoms on her very first day ...

War on Terror or a War on Guns?

News  

Friday, September 23, 2016

War on Terror or a War on Guns?

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, was in New York City recently on an official visit. Commenting on the bombs that exploded while he was in town, he opined that such attacks are now simply ...

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

News  

Friday, July 1, 2016

California Governor Signs Draconian Gun Control Package into Law

Fairfax, Va.— California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law on Friday a package of gun bills that were rushed through the state legislature with no regard for proper process. The National Rifle Association Institute for ...

Show Your Support—NEW NRA Yard Signs Available!

News  

Friday, September 23, 2016

Show Your Support—NEW NRA Yard Signs Available!

Show your support for NRA and the Second Amendment this election cycle by purchasing an NRA yard sign.  With everything that is at stake this year, including the Presidency, the balance of the U.S. Senate ...

Virginia Politician and Clinton Backer Brands Trump Supporters as “Mentally Deficient”

News  

Friday, September 23, 2016

Virginia Politician and Clinton Backer Brands Trump Supporters as “Mentally Deficient”

With the presidential race tighter than ever as it heads into its final stretch, panicked Hillary Clinton supporters are desperate to find a way to discredit, not just Donald Trump, but anyone who would dare ...

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -
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.