I’m not sure I ever thought that something like this could become a problem. The NRA is supposed to be our nation’s biggest organized defender of gun rights, so why are they feuding with the man who may well be Congress’ staunches supporter of gun rights?
It all started when Senator Rand Paul was conspicuously left out of the rotation of speakers appearing at the recent NRA annual convention. The NRA said that “every candidate worth their salt” was invited to speak, but that Paul had been overlooked because of a lack of time on the schedule.
This excuse is ridiculous on its face – there were obviously other speakers at the convention of far less import than Rand Paul whose speaking slots could have been sacrificed to make room for a serious Presidential contender and defender of gun rights.
No, it seems that, as several publications of solid reputation are reporting, the NRA was simply being petty over a personal dispute they have with Rand Paul and a group the Senator works closely with. The National Association for Gun Rights (NAGR) is a far smaller group of gun rights activists than the NRA, but the NAGR is arguably even more conservative on gun rights than the NRA. Apparently the problem that the NRA has with Paul is that the Senator has a close relationship with the NAGR and has even helped them fundraise.
NAGR President Dudley Brown said Wednesday that Mr. Paul is the only current or likely 2016 candidate affiliated with his organization. Mr. Paul remains a NAGR member, Mr. Brown said, but added that it is unclear if NAGR will continue to use Mr. Paul’s name in fundraising appeals now that he has officially launched a presidential campaign.
The Kentucky senator, Mr. Brown said, is an excellent fundraiser for NAGR.
“It was no secret that Sen. Paul is more pro-gun than the NRA,” Mr. Brown said.
Mr. Brown slammed the NRA as a tool of the Washington insiders Mr. Paul has focused his campaign on opposing.
“I’ve been a gun lobbyist for 22 years and there’s never been a point at which we did not have tension,” he said. “We’re younger, we’re hungrier and we care less about the cocktail parties in Washington, D.C.”
So for this small, petty disagreement, the NRA chose to leave out a Presidential candidate with a lifetime A rating from the NRA? Very sad.
The libertarians at Reason.com see tis as just another example of the pseudo-conservatism of the mainstream GOP.
Rand Paul’s response, reported by David Weigel at Bloomberg:
“The interesting thing is that there’s probably no greater advocate for the Second Amendment in Congress than myself,” Paul said today. “To not be invited, probably, will serve more to cast aspersions on their group than it would on me. Because my record’s pretty clear. It probably looks a little bit petty for them not to invite a major candidate because I raised money for other Second Amendment groups.”
The whole NRA debacle is sordid and petty and is indicative of the many (bad) reasons that conservatives can’t seem to gain any ground on the liberals in power. The NRA should be using their position and their reach to expand 2nd Amendment rights, not to fight their own small battles. Rand Paul should have been one of the keynote speakers at their annual convention; instead they allowed a gun rights milquetoast like Jeb Bush to have a prime speaking spot. It’s just sad.