Originally published in the June 2018 Official Journals of the National Rifle Association
In recent months, the mainstream media and well-funded opposition groups have done their best to demonize the NRA and its industry partners. In particular, these groups have organized campaigns targeted at millennials in an effort to indoctrinate them into believing that the NRA works against their interests.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The NRA, through its many advocacy programs, fights for principles that are intuitively appealing to millennials. By working to preserve the Second Amendment, the NRA provides options in self-defense, hunting and sport shooting.
Today’s millennials grew up in a time marked by incredible changes in technology, society and interconnectivity. They’ve grown up in an on-demand world, with options in every conceivable area. Consequently, these young adults easily navigate between diverse choices and, indeed, tend to want more of them. In all aspects of life, millennials have rejected the concept of single-track solutions, preferring instead an unprecedented freedom to build the kind of lives they want.
Why, then, would it make sense for millennials to reverse this trend when it comes to the protection of life and liberty? Shouldn’t they believe that free individuals have the right to develop their own personal-defense plans and acquire defensive tools based on their wants and needs? Why, in this world of seemingly limitless choices, do our opponents advocate a limited, inflexible, one-size-fits-all approach to security?
Actually, millennials support the NRA’s position, with 66 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds agreeing that concealed carry makes the country safer, according to a 2015 Gallup poll. Through the NRA’s legislative efforts, publications and education initiatives, these young adults can access tools for self-defense and training resources to build their knowledge in the area of personal protection.
Today’s young adults also focus on sustainable, locally sourced food products they can cook and harvest themselves. This push for healthy, natural meals began in the “Farm-to-Table” movement, and has since expanded beyond the farm and into the field as more 20- and 30-somethings find that hunting is an affordable method of harvesting high-quality meats. Indeed, aspects of popular culture and recent industry insights spotlight this element of the millennial lifestyle.
In 2016, the award-winning documentary “An Acquired Taste” followed young millennials in the San Francisco Bay area who learned to hunt as a method of getting in touch with the source of their meals. A 2017 report by Southwick Associates indicated that harvesting meat was more of a priority for millennial hunters than any other age group, with food acquisition noted as priority No. 1 for nearly 43 percent of hunters born between 1980-2000. Of course, as NRA members know, the preservation of the Second Amendment is critical for hunters to access what they need to bring food to the table, and the NRA has consistently advocated for hunters’ rights across the country.
In addition to hunting and personal defense, younger generations also have a demonstrable interest in the shooting sports, fueled by an open-mindedness toward firearms. In many states, competition shooting among young adults has grown in popularity, with thousands of millennials joining programs in clay-target leagues, rifle competitions and pistol shoots.
The explosion in sport shooting among millennials is evidenced by the evolution of scholastic competition groups like the USA High School Clay Target League, which grew from 30 participants on three teams in 2007 to 20,109 participants divided into 615 teams in 2017. This trend continues even in the halls of liberal academia, with pistol and rifle classes filling up at Harvard and MIT within minutes of being offered. Collectively, hundreds of these groups have received millions of dollars through NRA-funded grants and have participated in NRA-sponsored competitions.
Consistently, young adults arecontinuing to be active in key interests made possible by NRA support of the Second Amendment. How, then, can we demonstrate to them that the NRA is their rightful home? Connect with them, demonstrate that you are proud to be an NRA member, and show them all that the NRA has to offer for their lifestyles.
This rising generation needs to see that millions of NRA members fight for their right to protect themselves and their families, their right to hunt and their right to participate in the shooting sports. Have the courage to show that you are an NRA member in the face of the media’s assault on our liberties. By doing so, millennials will see that our defense of liberty is their fight, too.