I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked to explain the difference between Grass Roots North Carolina (GRNC) and the National Rifle Association (NRA). The central theme of both organizations is the defense of the Second Amendment; however, the similarities generally stop there. The NRA is the proverbial 800 pound gorilla and typically concentrates their lobbying efforts at the federal level, whereas GRNC is dedicated to battling for gun rights at the state and local level, often utilizing activist guerilla tactics. On occasion, GRNC will join a coalition of other state-level organizations in support or opposition of federal activity.
GRNC is to the NRA what the Tea Party is to Republicans. This comparison should resonate with most Tea Party members. Just as many Tea Party members are registered Republicans who have become disenchanted with the malaise of party politics, many GRNC members were at one time loyal NRA members. Some, like me, still hold their membership but quit giving money long ago after becoming disenchanted with the perpetual compromise of principle. GRNC believes that there should be no compromise with respect to the Second Amendment. What part of “shall not be infringed” is unclear?
GRNC was started in the early ‘90’s with the help of Gun Owners of America (GOA) to effect positive change within North Carolina and defend the Second Amendment. Since its inception nearly 20 years ago, GRNC has differentiated itself from the NRA principally by following three core beliefs:
- We will not compromise on principle
- We will not make “deals” with politicians for candidate evaluations
- We do not use access-based lobbyists
The NRA is notorious for working backroom deals with politicians. No better example played out recently, when the NRA put its own self interests before gun owners. Essentially, they compromised on principle, selling out the very core constituency they claim to defend. After opposing the Senate’s version of the Disclose Act, the NRA grew mute on the House version. They opted not to oppose HR 5175, which places restrictions on when political organizations can mention candidates during an election cycle, as well as requiring reporting the names of certain members to the Federal Election Committee. The NRA (with the help of NC Democrat Heath Shuler) carved out an exemption for themselves which seriously restricts the ability of all other gun rights organizations to defend the Second Amendment, both at the national and state levels.
To be exempt from these reporting requirements an organization must have been in existence for a minimum of ten years, have 500,000 registered members, and be operating in all 50 states. The only gun rights organization in the country that meets these requirements is the NRA.
So the NRA opposed the Senate version because it was a flagrant violation of free speech and the First Amendment. However, they do not oppose the House version because a backroom deal provides them with an exemption. Conflicting message? I think so. So here we have a prime example of the NRA’s lack of forethought. After the reversal of McCain-Feingold the liberal left again schemes to silence anyone who would oppose their de facto dictatorship. Yet the NRA does not oppose the incremental encroachment of free speech through the limitations imposed by HR 5175 because they get a pass. How long does the NRA think the left will wait until they attempt to impose even greater restrictions on free speech? And what happens then? Who will be left to speak out in defense of the Second Amendment? For me the Pelosi/Shuler objective is clear: silence anyone who disagrees with their perception of fairness.
GRNC’s mascot, “Max,” is a pit bull with the Constitution clenched in his teeth. This accurately represents the organization as whole, tenacious and uncompromising defenders of the Second Amendment. In NC, there is no more aggressive or dedicated group of volunteers watching out for the interests of gun owners. Or, more successful for that matter.
If you have a concealed carry permit in North Carolina, you have GRNC to thank for that privilege. If you have ever used that carry permit to purchase a hand gun in lieu of a pistol purchase permit, you again have GRNC to thank. These are two examples of legislation we have drafted and that have been written into law. This is one reason why I tell people that if you live in North Carolina and own a gun, or want to own a gun, you should be a member of GRNC. More information about GRNC, instructions on how to receive our legislative alerts, and membership opportunities are available at www.grnc.org.
In my next installment I’ll review the difference between the NRA’s candidate ratings and GRNC’s. Learn who is accurately measuring a candidate’s genuine Second Amendment position.
Board Member, GRNC