by John Boch
I get that “Where’s the NRA?” question a lot. It seems my peer at the Illinois State Rifle Association gets the same question. Our answers, however, remain starkly different.

ISRA’s Rich Pearson wrote this in a January 12th email “update”:

Lots of folks seem to think that we receive support from the NRA and there has been a lot of misinformation about their involvement in the legislative process.

The NRA and ISRA are completely separate organizations. They do not support the ISRA financially or with other resources. As for the fight against the firearms ban, the NRA lobbyist did testify at a subject matter hearing in December 2022 along with several other groups including the ISRA. They did not testify at any hearings on the legislation itself during the time it was making its way through the Capitol in Springfield, nor did they testify at any of the public JCAR hearings in November 2023. [Emphasis original.]

Nothing like throwing the NRA under the bus with lies, half-truths and well, you know the rest. The ISRA might be a “separate” organization, but it remains the NRA’s official state-level association.

As for the ISRA’s claim that the NRA doesn’t support ISRA?  So when ISRA asks NRA to solicit its NRA members in Illinois to join the ISRA every year, that’s not “support”? What’s more, NRA does that at its own expense.

Hey ISRA, if you think being tied to the NRA is such a ball and chain, please resign your state affiliate status. Guns Save Life will be proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the NRA and its Institute for Legislative Action instead of throwing them under the bus. The NRA isn’t perfect, but then again we don’t walk on water either.

Did the NRA testify at hearings that served no purpose but to rubber stamp gun control legislation? Nope. Neither did GSL. Like most, I don’t urinate into a hurricane force wind to see if I can somehow part the wind like Moses parted the Red Sea.

Yes the NRA has been scarce in Springfield of late. During COVID, lobbyists couldn’t get into the capitol complex and the pols were laying low in their hotel rooms when not “working” during the day. Why show up if you can’t work? Just to say you were there? That’s just symbolism over substance.

And speaking of “being there,” at least the NRA wasn’t fighting for a “seat at the table” in negotiating the Protect Illinois Communities Act like ISRA was when they gave us the “FOID Modernization Act” which ended private gun sales. How many lobbyists did it take for ISRA to give us FOID Modernization Act? Five? Seven?

What’s more, after they finished “negotiating” the bill, their lobbyists testified as NEUTRAL on it – imagine taking a “neutral” position as a gun rights org on a bill that ended private gun sales.

When the NRA-ILA’s pros gave me a crash course in lobbying years ago, they made me well-aware of a golden rule: Don’t help the other side make a bad bill better. Terrible bills make for easier court challenges and outright defeat in close floor votes.

My lobbying trainers:  Todd Vandermyde, the then NRA-ILA’s contract lobbyist in Illinois, me and Shannon Alford, the then NRA-ILA legislative liaison to Illinois.

Remembering back, how many lobbyists did it take when Pearson’s ISRA negotiated our Red Flag law under Gov. Rauner? At least one ISRA lobbyist was present at the bill signing, and three if the Rowes worked as ISRA lobbyists at the time. Was ISRA proud of their work to give us Red Flags too?

At the signing of the Illinois Red Flag law.  Then Gov. Bruce Rauner is at the far left.  Colleen Daley, Executive Director of the now-defunct ICHV speaks, while ISRA’s lobbyist Eddie Sullivan (far right) listens next to Mike & Valinda Rowe. The Rowes served as ISRA lobbyists for a short period of time. It’s unknown if they were acting in that capacity when this photo was taken.

You want to know who wasn’t there? The NRA and GSL.

The reality?
The candid reality is that the NRA is strapped for cash. The NRA-ILA isn’t quite as strapped, but budgets are tight. That’s why the NRA-ILA isn’t more active with more litigation. Each of those suits costs six figures, easy. Hopefully in the coming months that will change with Wayne LaPierre’s departure along with his cronies in leadership.

If Letitia James wins her civil corruption trial against the NRA, LaPierre and his buddies, look for big changes in NRA’s management. There may be other changes too, including state affiliates. Time will tell.

Hopefully the NRA will become better able to direct resources towards gun rights advocacy, lobbying and litigation and less towards gold-plated lawyers defending WLP.

As for lobbying and the scarcity of NRA and GSL in Springfield? What purpose does it serve to send lobbyists to Springfield when the capitol building is closed to all but members and staff? Or to appear in front of committees where minds are already made up? You can have a whole army of paid lobbyists in Springfield, but if you don’t have the votes to back them up, is that the best use of your time and resources? Just to say you’re there?

Great, you’re there. Harmon, Pritzker and Welch don’t care. You’re not even a pothole on the way to work for them.

Instead of throwing the NRA under the bus, let’s work together to win this fight no matter where it takes us.

12 thoughts on “ISRA THROWS NRA UNDER THE BUS: Where’s the NRA?”
  1. There’s hope to save the NRA, if they gut the board and refuse to replace Wayne with one of his cronies. A rebuilt NRA could once again be a strong political force. I don’t see any hope for the ISRA in the near future. Although, it’s seemed to have done a good job hiding it’s complicity from most of the rank and file members.

    1. We can hope for the best, MarkB, the NRA is a long established organization with many good shooting programs second to none, and I am sure many honorable members, it just needs honorable leadership to get back to what it once was, or maybe better, by learning from the bad mistakes/corruption that has permeated the executives.
      “Pray for America as well as the NRA that our members and citizens can overcome America’s oppressors and get back on the honorable path.

  2. wow im glad you said this now im going to stop giving my money to anyone else don’t worry gsl I’m going to be a good little gsl btch and stay on masas plantation FKU GSL!!!!
    Why should I give to you when you’ve done nothing we still have foid and pica

    1. I have doubts you have “given” anything to ANY firearm rights organization, in fact I bet you are opposing any firearm rights and could possibly be a troll and part of the Jelly-Belly Prick’s government Marxists posting here to cause more chaos on this site, for what it’s worth. KISS MY WELL DEVELOPED REAR END WITH WET SLOPPY ONES, GO AWAY, TROLL!
      Is that YOU, G$L 1589 “ken”?

    2. Is that the best you can do?
      “Why should I give to your when you’ve done nothing… we still have FOID and PICA”
      We have very expensive lawsuits challenging both in Federal Court… and we haven’t lost a lawsuit yet.
      What have YOU done, Mr. FKGSL? Or are you just waiting for someone else to do the heavy lifting while you sit behind a keyboard?

  3. Thank you for the red arrow pointing to the Illinois Carry gun control activists. Thank you also for talking about the other two gun control outfits we have in Illinois, ISRA and the NRA. If these organizations are “neutral” on gun control laws, help write red flag laws, OR negotiate our constitutional rights away they are not 2nd Amendment advocacy groups, they are CONTROLLED OPPOSITION and must be exposed and shamed for what they are!

    1. Yes. We don’t need compliance and appeasement. We must have a counter. A counter against infringement. Permanently stopping these unconstitutional actions with penalties. ISRS is enriching themselves by appeasing to keep the fight going. Just like the NRA was doing.

    1. Pearson and his “go along to get along” cronies have been at ISRE tooo looong, time for new, better management, just my humble opinion.

  4. Good article. I am tired of ISRA making bad laws better. I know too many Fudds who feel this way. GSL has been a leader in actually fighting for our gun rights, not negotiating. WE can only win in the courts, not in Springfield.
    As for the NRA, well time will tell. Now support GSL and the real pro 2A groups.

    1. Agreed 100%. NRA has to get its house cleaned and hopefully will get stronger afterwards. Fresh. Lean and mean.

      Sometimes grassroots organizations, like GSL is where things get done with support by the NRA’s name and cash. We know the issues better and can fight with daggers and then call in the artillery.

  5. Excellent read. Your well worded statement clearly echoes those that know about the subject and have been informative to many that may have not been as aware of the topic about ISRA and its less then stellar history of representing Illinois gun owners and “protecting” our 2nd amendment rights here in Illinois.

    ISRA, has used its “NRA” affiliation to garner membership and squandered its reputation and credibility by succumbing to the pressures of the opposition and appear to be “Chamberlainesque” in their joyful and even gleeful appeasement of the Democrats here in Illinois. ISRA leadership, Feigning contempt, shock, pain and even veiled hostility when questioned by their own members, other 2A organizations, and others (as John mentioned above the failures in legislation), their actions and motives for not resisting and “throwing the NRA under the bus”.

    Hey NRA and NRA-ILA…psst. Time for more change. Look right here at GSL!!

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