© 2024 WXPR
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Ahead Of Annual NRA Convention, A Member Says It's Sacrificing His Rights

Tim Harmsen says he's dissatisfied with the NRA's recent compromises, but he still plans to attend the annual convention.
Military Arms Channel
Tim Harmsen says he's dissatisfied with the NRA's recent compromises, but he still plans to attend the annual convention.

The National Rifle Association's annual meeting begins Friday in Dallas, and some members of the organization plan to voice their discontent with the positions the NRA has taken in the past year.

Lifetime member Tim Harmsen, the owner of Copper Custom Gun Shop in Valparaiso, Ind., and the creator and host of the Military Arms Channel on YouTube, says he's bringing boxes of T-shirts that reflect his disappointment.

"The shirts say 'NRA: Not Real Activists.' So, we're not happy with the direction that [NRA leaders] Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox have taken," Harmsen says. "They think that the resolution to all that ails the country is constant compromise on our constitutional rights, and there's a growing number of us who are dissatisfied with that."

On why Harmsen is unhappy with NRA leadership

They constantly negotiate our rights away. And my opinion is this — that in a compromise, it's assumed that both parties will get something of equal value, and that's not what happens. We don't really compromise — we surrender our rights, endlessly trying to appease the factions that simply want to erase the Second Amendment as though it never existed....

Two issues that they've recently pushed through with the assistance of Trump is their NICS fix, which is an expansion of the NICS background check system, which has about a 97 percent false positive rate. ... The NRA originally wrote the bill during the Clinton administration, and then they had President Trump expand it, which is a de facto waiting period for most Americans. It inaccurately flags most people.

Then, the second thing that they did is bump stock regulation. It's really poorly written, and it goes so far as to tell you how to get around the regulations change.

On why he's still going to the convention

I'm going for two reasons: First of all, I'm a voting member, and I plan to vote — and we keep trying to vote in a board that more reflects the opinions of the membership, which is myself and a large number of NRA members. If you get online and look, go through the discussion forms and the pro-Second Amendment forms, you'll see what I'm saying is true....

Word is that they're not gonna allow us in if we're wearing the shirts. And so the NRA is always saying, "well, the Second protects the First," and that's what I'm gonna say if they ask us to leave. And we're gonna record the whole thing on video and we're gonna say, you know, "Guys, you're being hypocritical here. You say the Second protects the First. I'm here with my First Amendment rights. I'm here to vote for change within my own organization, and you're, you know, telling me I can't." ... I mean, we may be escorted out, they may leave us alone; we don't know what to expect. But we're gonna go and we're gonna make our voices heard.

Lauren Hodges and Jessica Deahl produced and edited the audio story.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: May 5, 2018 at 11:00 PM CDT
A previous caption with this story misspelled Tim Harmsen's last name as Hartman.
Mary Louise Kelly is a co-host of All Things Considered, NPR's award-winning afternoon newsmagazine.
Up North Updates
* indicates required