Sunday, January 06, 2008

NRA - Supportive to individuals, or to 'groups'?

On December 17 I wrote an article titled "Registered Gun Owner", questioning whether I should feel 'comfortable' with my decision to (once again, for the fourth time) joining the National Rifle Association.

I received some comments to the effect that "it's about time", which I presumed should be construed as supportive.

Tonight I continued an established theme about protecting private ranges (and public ranges, for that matter) against the predations of developers and other vested interests which seem to find on conflict with their personal values when attempting to put Shooting Ranges out of business for the sole purpose of creating 'unclaimed property' for the development of residential properties ... and selling houses which they would build on this 'new' land.

One of the central themes in this business venture was whether the established ranges met 'industry standards'. For the purpose of the discussion, the 'industry standards' are the NRA Range Manual.

When I attempted to find a document which met the description of the "NRA Range Manual", I discovered that such a document was not readily referenced.

Bear with me, this gets complicated.

Since the "NRA Range Manual" was either unavailable online, or was 'out of print', I went to the source: The National Rifle Association.

When I attempted to contact the NRA in reference to this document, I found a link which proposed to allow me to request NRA publications. The hitch is, you have to be an NRA member to request this document. I joined the NRA on December 17, 2007. This is January 6, 2007, so that should not be a problem. Right?


Although the NRA debited my VISA card on December 18, 2007, as of today (January 6, 2008) I have not received my NRA member number. Therefore, the resources which may generally be considered available to a NRA member are not available to me.

I went to the NRA website and found an "ASK THE NRA" email address. I wrote to the NRA, pointed out their willingness to debit my account versus their (lack of) established mechanism which would allow me to use my NRA membership to access their resources.

To my surprise, the EMAIL sent to the "ASK THE NRA" email address was returned because the email address was 'not known'.

Working backwards through the involved issues:
  • I DON'T KNOW why the NRA Range Manual is considered to be so non-supportive of vital Range Management Issues;
  • I DON'T KNOW why the NRA Range Manual is considered the definitive of Range Management;
  • I DON'T KNOW why the NRA Range Manual is not available through ANY source I can imagine, including (if it's a publication generally available to the public) through such sources as AMAZON.COM;
  • I DON'T KNOW why the NRA Range Manual is not available through the NRA;
  • I DON'T KNOW why the NRA doesn't have a convenient (or even an inconvenient) link to the NRA Range Manual ... which appears to be 'out of print';
  • I DON'T KNOW why the NRA can countenance the continued reference to a resource without documenting that it is either (a) not a legitimate NRA document, or (b) mentioning somewhere on its website that it is obsolete and should no longer be referenced, or (c) affirming that it is a 'work in progress ... please watch this space for notification when it is available for public distribution;
  • I DON'T KNOW why the NRA doesn't notify new members of their member number as soon as they have been determined to have paid their dues;
  • I DON'T KNOW why the NRA requires member numbers (ID) before it performs basic search functions to identify official documents which arguably SHOULD be available to anybody, regardless of member status.
It's not difficult so see why I am disappointed by the 'benefits' accruing to my new-found member status.

I've written to the NRA for clarification and asked for their assistance in my search. But I have to say that I am not encouraged by the results so far. That their published links to "WRITE TO THE NRA" return "NOT FOUND" messages is indicative of a failure to support member communications at best -- an indifference to member communications at least; this is not the communication policy of a viable and concerned volunteer organization.

It does not reflect well on the National Rifle Organization that they have not bothered to insure easy and user-friendly communications with their membership. It does not reflect well on the National Rifle Organization that they are not pro-actively following up on new memberships, in the media (online/email) methods which have sufficed them to entice new members.

Most of all, it does not reflect well on the NRA that they are demonstrably willing to take our ... no, MY money ... but don't let me talk to them when I perceive a problem.

I would rather the NRA prove to be a caring, responsive entity which holds member communications as a primary priority.

So far, this does not characterized the policy of the NRA.

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