Interestingly, I was mulling over whether to write on this very subject this morning when I caught up with Instapundit and discovered Eric Raymond’s essay at Armed and Dangerous. Raymond joined the National Rifle Association during the holidays despite a long reluctance to do so. Raymond explains that he’s not exactly enamored of the NRA’s political strategies, but that the times call for responsible gun owners to rally together:

So, you might well ask: why am I joining an organization I’m dubious about now, when the gun-rights cause seems to be winning? Popular support for Second Amendment rights is at record highs in the polls, a record seven states now have constitutional carry (no permit requirement), Texas just became the 45th state to legalize open carry last week…why am I joining an organization I’ve characterized as squishy?

I joined because the state-worshiping thugs on the other side are doubling down, and they still own most of the media and the machinery of the Federal government. After decades of pretending that they only wanted soi-disant “common-sense” legislation aimed at specific problems around the edges of gun policy, the Democratic Party is now openly talking of outright gun confiscation. The usual suspects in the national press are obediently amplifying their propaganda.

Coincidentally, I did exactly what Raymond did over the weekend. I became a member of the NRA for the first time in my life, buying a five-year membership on Saturday. I tweeted about it at the time:

Unlike Raymond, I’ve never really had any issues with the NRA. The National Rifle Association has a long and storied history as the leading organization representing gun owners, and while other organizations may use different strategies, the end goals are the same. I have been a regular guest on NRA News with Cam Edwards for a few years now, and have written a number of posts about their efforts on promoting responsible gun ownership and protecting the rights of law-abiding citizens to effective self-defense. The NRA promotes safety and training through programs of its own, and emphasizes the need for responsible use of firearms at every turn. I’m hoping to get out to their annual meetings this year, in fact, if my book tour and some other issues on the personal side allow for it.

That leaves two questions for me to answer. The first is this: why haven’t I joined before this? The answer is much more prosaic than Raymond’s principled hesitation — I’m just not much of a joiner. I get a little protective about personal data too, and so I tend to minimize the number of times it gets shared, but in truth the biggest reason is that I just didn’t see the point in doing so. I support the group but didn’t feel the need to join it.

Until now, anyway. The answer to the second question — why now? — is almost exactly the same as Raymond’s. For one thing, the NRA has become even more of a political target lately, with Democrats taking big bucks from Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown while decrying the NRA’s lobbying for its members. The media paints it as an extremist group when gun owners know it represents the mainstream view of 60 million households with legal firearms. With Barack Obama dialing up an assault on both gun rights and constitutional process with his executive orders this week, it is  a time to stand up and be counted effectively as a member of the responsible, law-abiding gun-owning community.

So yes, I have also become an NRA member, in large part to reflect the mainstream nature of gun ownership. Perhaps we can make 2016 a banner year for both the NRA and the perception of what exactly is mainstream in America, and what is the extreme.