The National Rifle Association (NRA) has seen a lot of criticism come its way in the wake of the Colorado movie theatre shootings, and that criticism is wholly unjustified, says Rich Lowry, editor of the National Review.
“In America, we are supposed to like constitutional rights,” he writes in Politico
. “One would think that an organization that vigilantly — and effectively — safeguards a constitutional right would be honored as a kind of national jewel.”
Instead, the NRA is heaped only with abuse. The critics maintain that “it is all that’s wrong with Washington, our politics, our system,” Lowry says. “It’s practically branded an accessory to murder whenever a lunatic shoots people. It’s labeled a nefarious special interest that lobbies Congress into submission.”
The NRA indeed wields great power, Lowry acknowledges. “But it comes about it the right way. It represents millions of members — including lots of union members and rural Democrats. Its supreme act of influence is defeating officeholders in free-and-fair elections. And its signature victory over the past two decades has been to bring about a sea change in public opinion on gun control.”
That establishes the NRA as a paragon of democratic values, not an evil monster, Lowry argues. “The NRA won the argument. Its influence is a function of its success in the art of democratic persuasion,” he says. “By the standards usually set for our politics, the NRA is a model organization.”
It has more than 4 million committed members. It’s bipartisan: the NRA endorsed about 60 House Democrats in 2010. And it’s a defender of the Constitution, specifically the Second Amendment.
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