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Just a quick notation, a short addition to the corpus of our collective knowledge on this subject. The NRA has not taken a recent turn for the crazy. Their leadership has not drifted into some sort of arch-conservative, hard-line rump of nutbags. They have been this way for at least 17 years -- though, of course it's been longer.

I reproduce here, in its entirety, former President George H. W. Bush's op-ed in the New York Times, resigning his membership in the NRA back in 1995 (I assume it's public domain in some sense, as it's a public letter by a former president):

Dear Mr. Washington,

I was outraged when, even in the wake of the Oklahoma City tragedy, Mr. Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of N.R.A., defended his attack on federal agents as "jack-booted thugs." To attack Secret Service agents or A.T.F. people or any government law enforcement people as "wearing Nazi bucket helmets and black storm trooper uniforms" wanting to "attack law abiding citizens" is a vicious slander on good people.

Al Whicher, who served on my [ United States Secret Service ] detail when I was Vice President and President, was killed in Oklahoma City. He was no Nazi. He was a kind man, a loving parent, a man dedicated to serving his country -- and serve it well he did.

In 1993, I attended the wake for A.T.F. agent Steve Willis, another dedicated officer who did his duty. I can assure you that this honorable man, killed by weird cultists, was no Nazi.

John Magaw, who used to head the U.S.S.S. and now heads A.T.F., is one of the most principled, decent men I have ever known. He would be the last to condone the kind of illegal behavior your ugly letter charges. The same is true for the F.B.I.'s able Director Louis Freeh. I appointed Mr. Freeh to the Federal Bench. His integrity and honor are beyond question.

Both John Magaw and Judge Freeh were in office when I was President. They both now serve in the current administration. They both have badges. Neither of them would ever give the government's "go ahead to harass, intimidate, even murder law abiding citizens." (Your words)

I am a gun owner and an avid hunter. Over the years I have agreed with most of N.R.A.'s objectives, particularly your educational and training efforts, and your fundamental stance in favor of owning guns.

However, your broadside against Federal agents deeply offends my own sense of decency and honor; and it offends my concept of service to country. It indirectly slanders a wide array of government law enforcement officials, who are out there, day and night, laying their lives on the line for all of us.

You have not repudiated Mr. LaPierre's unwarranted attack. Therefore, I resign as a Life Member of N.R.A., said resignation to be effective upon your receipt of this letter. Please remove my name from your membership list. Sincerely, [ signed ] George Bush (NYT)

The NRA is not a gun rights group anymore. It is a far-right group that supports the paranoid idea that the government, the democratically-elected government, is the enemy in literal terms. It does this because paranoia and the resultant fear-mongering makes them money and pays their salaries. It does this because it gives LaPierre the power he wants, good policy be damned:
The irony is that LaPierre is not a true "gun man" in the classic mould. He neither comes from a militaristic background nor from the rural heartlands that generate much of the NRA's core membership.

What he is, though, is a professional bureaucrat. He was brought up in Roanoke, Virginia, and received an MA in government from Boston college. His passion is not guns, but for the machinations of power. As a young man he volunteered in several political campaigns including the failed 1972 presidential run of the leftwing Democrat George McGovern.

A brief stint as the legislative aide to a Virginia Democratic politician brought him in contact with the NRA, which he joined in 1978. He rose up the ranks, as a regional lobbyist, then to Capitol Hill, and from there into the job as the association's chief administrator.

When he was given the top job, a joke circulated around the NRA that he didn't know one end of a gun from another. But LaPierre quickly accommodated himself to the more aggressive wing of the gun movement that held sway within the NRA. (Guardian UK)

The NRA in its modern incarnation was rejected by reasonable elements within the Republican Party nearly two decades ago. Apparently, as with the fallout from Grover Norquist's undemocratic coronation, the Republican Party reacted by purging its reasonable elements.

Originally posted to Addison on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 06:29 PM PST.

Also republished by Repeal or Amend the Second Amendment (RASA).

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