But with power comes hubris, and if the Bill of Rights is to be assaulted, we who understand the necessary role of the gun culture may have to turn into political musk ox. Fortunately, the means of salvation are already at hand: Yes, it's time to (re)join the National Rifle Association.
You may find it odd that the editor of Guns & Ammo, the largest-circulation subscription-based gun magazine on the planet, is encouraging you to send hard-earned currency to our largest business competitor. But if we don't support our Constitution's principle defender, those in the new administration who drool at the chance of neutering the Second Amendment will become emboldened.
The staff and members of the NRA have been doing the heavy lifting of protecting your right to protect the rest of your rights and it gets tougher and more expensive every year. For almost 14 decades this noble organization has fought the good fight. Its house organ, the American Rifleman, isn't as snappy or as broad spectrum as G&A because it must do the serious work of covering legislation and matches and legal precedents. Some of the stories in there are darned good reads. American Rifleman's editor-in-chief, Mark Keefe, does an amazing job keeping it all tied together and yet still readable (except for those silly page jumps. Geez, Mark, I know people who have let their memberships lapse after years of reading "continued on page 72" and a page later, "continued on page 84"). A zealous student of history and the inner workings of firearms, Mark is also the only guy I know who can identify Lewis Gun extractors, by manufacturer, blindfolded.
We at G&A aren't worried that you'll abandon us for this venerable workhorse, but we're also certain that you'll enjoy the other benefits of NRA membership, not the least of which is pride in knowing that you're doing your part to support our most important freedoms (as well as the framework of the competitive firearms world and game-habitat protection).
NRA representatives ensure that members of congress and the executive administration know just how sacred we hold our right. The more people they represent, the more the current incumbents will look for softer targets for social change. Okay--there are reasons not to join, and we've heard them all:
"I don't like getting all those requests for donations."
This is easy: Throw them away. Or, like my father used to do, amuse yourself by sending in a check for $10 just to see how many more requests that will generate. The NRA needs money to support the political campaigns of the guys who make the laws. Membership is key, but more cash always helps.
"I don't want to be on any lists." If you're that scared about being on a list, you're probably already on a couple. C'mon, cowboy up! Every time a congressman finds a pile of NRA-generated print mail blocking the anteroom to his suite in the Russell Building, he thinks twice about using the word "ban" or "outlaw."
"The NRA's too extreme." Believe me, compared to the opposition, the NRA is mild, and operates fully within the realm of legality, good manners and good taste. If we don't stand up for what we believe in, we'll end up as rare as a music video on MTV.
"My mailbox already has too much in it." Great! Check the box marked "no magazine," and there's more space on the den coffee table for G&A's other publications.
Readers from all over the world send in letters to me as editor, and they all have a common theme: "You're lucky you have the NRA and your Second Amendment." I've received almost identical letters from the following countries: Chile, England, Australia, South Africa, Iran, Finland, Scotland and Canada.
It seems absurd that something like one American in five is a gun owner, yet no more than four million actively defend the others' rights. Ultimately, joining the NRA doesn't just get you a second opinion on cool new firearms and accessories, it helps you defend the entire Bill of Rights for all Americans.