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“We must be forgetting the NRA pushed for gun control legislation when African Americans began taking up arms.”

This is true. But it was also almost almost 50 years ago, and is precisely what precipitated the NRA’s transformation into what it is today. Much of the NRA membership was not happy with what happened. Over the following years they gradually steered the organization in the other direction. This culminated with the 1977 annual convention, now called “The Cincinnati Revolution,” in which the entire leadership was ousted and replaced.

Before 1977, the NRA was mostly about providing safety training, promoting sports like hunting and target shooting, and organizing competitions in those sports. They didn’t dabble much in politics, and when they did, it was generally in support of gun control. Since 1977, they are still very much about those previously mentioned things, but their political activity has become a huge part of what they do as well, and that political activity is directed in the opposite direction.

The NRA that supported gun control in response to the Black Panthers really was an organization primarily concerned only with the ability of rich old white men to go shoot geese with an ornately engraved $10,000 Italian shotgun. But that organization died in Cincinnati in 1977.

“ Yes, Reynolds, we know this stereotype. As I’ve already mentioned, this stereotype is why we are profiled and killed. Thank you for pointing that out, as if it needed to be said, again. What is the NRA doing about it, if they really want to see increases in minority NRA members? That is the question.”

I’m curious if you’ve sought to find and answer to that question. Aside from Wayne LaPierre himself, Colion Noir is probably the most visible and popular spokesperson for the NRA right now. That’s not an accident. They’ve spent a lot of time and money promoting him. But, they could, and should, do more in my opinion.

Which brings me to your closing question: I would say this is why they should join. The organization reflects its members. At present, that membership is overwhelmingly white and male. If we talk about lofty ideals of diversity and inclusion and equality, some of that membership cares about those things. Many are simply ambivalent. But almost everyone recognizes that it is the inevitable and necessary path forward to protecting and even expanding gun rights in the future. The fact that the organization is putting effort into promoting itself to different demographics speaks to this. That being said, I won’t deny there’s still a contingent out there with more regressive beliefs. Like NRA leadership of 50 years ago, they need to go. And the more the membership tilts against them, the sooner that will happen.

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