Alan Greenblatt is a GOVERNING correspondent.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
This story about Daley, Bloomberg and about 100 other mayors forming a coalition to protest the easy availability of "illegal guns" gives me an excuse to note the response to my recent article about NRA lobbying.
As is usually the case, writing about gun owners' rights brought me more emails than I normally get. If you read my October 2006 Observer article, you'll see that I said the National Rifle Association had a point in pushing its ban on confiscation of weapons during emergencies, since police actually did take away people's guns in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.
I did get one note from a fellow who said he immediately braced himself for an attack on the organization when he came across my piece, but found himself relieved that I had found it within my liberal-media-bias heart to say something fair about the group.
All the other emails, however, were from people ticked that I had dared to insinuate that the NRA had taken up the issue at least in part to motivate its membership. All the NRA does, my correspondents assured me, was to defend the rights our forefathers died for, etc., etc.
I suppose it's thin-skinned of me to point out how thin-skinned they sounded. But the point I want to make is -- of course the NRA takes up issues and causes to keep its membership riled up. That is the nature of a membership organization.
Some big lobbying groups can afford to do things quietly and content themselves with the workaday business of helping unfriendly bills quietly languish in committee. A group like PhRMA, for instance, only has a handful of corporate members who pay the bills.
But the NRA -- and the Sierra Club and AARP and the ACLU and all those other groups that depend on thousands of $35 and $50 annual membership checks -- has to keep lots of average folk worked up about the latest calumny in Congress or the latest breakthrough chance to make the world (or just Wisconsin or Louisiana) safe for its favored policies.
Anyone who has gotten on one of these groups' lists has gotten some kind of scare solicitation in the mail. That's simply the nature of this type of interest group.
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