Four years ago, while doing a story about how the firearms industry stokes fears of government confiscation and violent crime in order to sell more guns to a shrinking share of the U.S. population, your correspondent joined the National Rifle Association so as to observe the messaging that organization directs to its members. That membership has lapsed but the association does still have this reporter on its mailing list.
And that’s an interesting place to be these days. Like other groups on the right and their counterparts on the left, the NRA’s fundraising pitch is grounded in threat: You need to give us money so we can stop X from doing Y. For eight years now, the association has sounded the alarm over President Obama’s alleged plot to restrict private gun ownership.
Now that Obama is on his way out, and a pro-gun president is about to take office and, presumably, nominate a pro-gun Supreme Court justice for confirmation by a pro-gun U.S. Senate in session down the hall from a pro-gun House of Representatives, the big question is: What will be the NRA’s messaging now?
Many political groups across the spectrum use a “member survey” as a fundraising tool, and this week the association mailed out its 2017 poll, which asks you to mail in your membership dues along with your answers. None of the questions are surprising, but they do indicate how the gun lobby plans to push buttons and frame issues in the Trump era. Here are the most relevant questions on this year’s survey:
- Do you agree that the Second Amendment guarantees your individual right to own a gun?
- Should the federal government have the power to ration the number of firearms you’re allowed to buy?
- Do you support laws that protect you fundamental right to use a firearm to defend yourself and your loved ones from a violent criminal attacker?
- Do you agree with politicians in Washington, D.C., who say that all gun owners should be forced to register their guns with the government?
- Do you oppose any United Nations treaty that strips the U.S. of its sovereignty and gives U.N. diplomats the power to regulate every rifle, pistol and shotgun you own?
- Should NRA fight to defeat Senate confirmation of any judicial nominee who does not believe the Second Amendment guarantees your individual right to own a firearm?
- Should law-abiding citizens like you be allowed to sell or give your firearms to family members without being under the thumb of the federal government?
- Do you think the federal government should ban standard-capacity magazines that hold more than ten rounds of ammunition?
- Do you think the federal government should impose a ban on commonly owned pistols, rifles and shotguns?
- Would you vote to reelect a member of the U.S. House or Senate who supports the gun-ban agenda?
The membership pitch comes with the offer of a free (and pretty sweet-looking) knife. One just has to remember not to bring it to a gunfight.