When I was first elected president of the NRA, one of the more common questions I received from friends and family was “Are you president of the Texas chapter of the NRA or the national organization?” I wasn’t surprised by that question because a lot of Americans seem to be under the misimpression that the NRA does have state chapters. I suspect the confusion comes from a misunderstanding about the status and role of NRA state affiliates. Some of these folks also seem to believe that the NRA only operates at the national level, leaving states to fend for themselves in terms of legislation and elections. Nothing could be further from the truth.
NRA state affiliates are independent organizations that have no legal connection with the NRA or NRA-ILA. Their role is to promote NRA programs such as state championships for NRA shooting disciplines, NRA Women on Target, youth programs and much more. State affiliates are not required to participate in legislative or election efforts. This is because the NRA-ILA is heavily involved in passing pro-Second Amendment bills and opposing anti-Second Amendment bills in every state, not just the federal congress. This is not to say that no state affiliates help achieve legislative goals or election goals. Some do, some don’t; some are very effective and some are not. One thing is absolutely clear—in terms of passing good bills and defeating bad bills, the NRA-ILA is the proverbial “800-pound gorilla” at both the federal and the state levels.
I wish I could give you a rundown of everything the NRA has achieved in every state just in the last couple of years. Unfortunately, our publications division won’t give me a full magazine issue that would be required. The best I can do in the space allotted for my column is to give you a broad-brush recap of just some of our accomplishments at the state level during 2021 alone.
NRA-ILA has passed emergency powers laws in seven more states—so the government can’t take away your Right to Keep and Bear Arms in times of emergency. (Remember Hurricane Katrina and the City of New Orleans);
NRA-ILA passed laws strengthening your right to self-defense in 20 additional states;
NRA-ILA has been victorious in derailing gun bans and magazine bans in more than a dozen states;
2021 started with 16 states having constitutional carry laws on the books, but we added five more states in 2021 and more are on the way.
Again, the above-listed accomplishments were in just one year—2021!
We all know that some stories and some issues garner more attention than others that may be of equal or even greater importance to citizens in their day-to-day lives. They appear on the first page in newspapers and are the lead stories on TV and radio newscasts. Some examples include the passage of: licensed concealed-carry laws, open-carry laws, constitutional-carry laws and more. Your NRA-ILA has been the champion in passage of those laws at the state level.
While those high-profile laws are critically important to a free people, there are many other laws that impact our daily lives that don’t get the coverage they deserve. Please bear with me while I use my home state of Texas to give some examples of the important bills that the NRA-ILA worked to pass.
Travelers in Texas were finding that some large chain hotels were adopting “no-gun” policies that made it unlawful for them to have firearms in their hotel rooms, or even in their cars parked in the hotel parking lot. A bill backed by the NRA-ILA resolved that problem and, in so doing, had a direct impact on millions of travelers in Texas alone. The same problem was rearing its ugly head in residential leases and homeowner associations’ rules and regulations. Other NRA-ILA-backed bills were passed to prevent landlords and HOAs from rendering tenants, homeowners and their guests defenseless.
As most Americans know, large banks have been getting into the anti-gun movement with chokepoint-style policies that make it difficult, if not impossible, for businesses in the firearm industry to obtain banking services. In 2021, NRA-ILA-backed Senate Bill 19 was passed in Texas making it unlawful for any governmental entity or agency to enter a contract with a company that discriminates against entities lawfully engaged in the firearm industry. This forced three major banks out of the Texas bond market. It has been estimated that this new law has cost one major bank $54 billion in bond business. This is a bill that wasn’t the lead story on the evening news, but it will have a major impact on people exercising their Second Amendment rights.
I wish I had room to brag on many more NRA-ILA successes in the states, but I’m out of room. To learn more about NRA-ILA efforts in the states, go to nraila.org.