The NRA has spoken…sort of

I finally got a reply to the question I submitted to NRA-ILA several weeks ago. Notably, this occurred following a rather heated discussion on Snowflakes in Hell and Sebastian’s subsequent discovery that their comments submission form was broken. It does not, however, explain why I never received a response to two very similar queries submitted via email…but I’ll let that go. They responded. I’ll quit complaining about that.

Their response, however, left a bit to be desired.

Here is the question that I submitted:

I am interested in why MY NRA hasn’t opposed the confirmation of Mike Sullivan as ATF director.

As acting director he has presided over a bureau that is out of control. They are currently persecuting lawful gun dealers to the point of running them out of business, they are persecuting gun experts who testify against their policies and procedures in court, they are persecuting manufacturers who do their best to comply with regulations…which are set in mud and constantly shift and change.

Mr. Sullivan is well aware of all of these problems (and more) and has done nothing to get his bureau under control.

Mike Sullivan is the bane of gun owners and should not be confirmed as the permanent director. When is the biggest gun rights organization going to step up to the plate and look out for its member’s best interest by opposing this confirmation?

Now, can anyone point to the part of the following reply that answers my question?

Dear Mr. Stone,

Thank you for contacting us regarding the nomination of Michael Sullivan as Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE). We have very serious and long-standing concerns about some of the practices and enforcement activities of BATFE. NRA has a long history of exposing problems with BATFE, and you can be sure that we are
doing everything we can to address these concerns.

NRA’s history of questioning BATFE activities predates even the Bureau itself. It began with our coverage of the 1971 shooting of Kenyon Ballew by investigators with the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Division,
which became the BATF a year later. During the Clinton years, NRA was the driving force behind congressional hearings that exposed the countless missteps and outrageous decisions by federal agents, including BATF agents, that led to the tragedies at Ruby Ridge and Waco.

We remain focused on working to pass legislation to overhaul BATFE and ensure it complies with the law. For example, we worked with the last Congress to hold oversight hearings on BATFE policies and practices, and
eventually to pass H.R. 5092 (the “BATFE Modernization and Reform Act of 2006”) through the U.S. House of Representatives. This legislation sought to rewrite the system of administrative penalties for licensed dealers, manufacturers, and importers of firearms, to prevent the all-too-common situations where BATFE has punished licensees for insignificant technical violations, such as improper use of abbreviations, or filing records in the wrong order.

In December 2007, that bill was modified and merged with legislation that makes technical changes to federal firearms laws, including rolling back unnecessary restrictions, correcting errors, and codifying longstanding congressional policies in the firearms arena, into H.R. 4900 (the “BATFE Modernization and Reform Act of 2007”). For information on H.R. 4900, please go to:

Finally, it is important to note that as a direct result of NRA-ILA’s lobbying efforts, the BATFE Director must now be confirmed by the Senate, rather than simply appointed to that position, allowing for a higher level of accountability for the agency.

Thank you for contacting us. For additional information, please see NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris W. Cox’s letter to Acting Director Michael Sullivan.


I suppose any reply is better than nothing and it doesn’t really surprise me that they simply ignored the question. But it sure didn’t do anything to reassure me that they are on top of this.

Does anyone know what letter from Chris Cox to Michael Sullivan that they are talking about? I couldn’t find it on the NRA-ILA web site. In fact, I couldn’t find any discussion of this issue at all.

I did find plenty of articles on how Sullivan supports the Tiahrt Amendment. Maybe that’s what this is all about. He supports Tiahrt so he MUST be a good guy to have on board right? All those minor details like shutting down gun dealers for nothing, harassing people who testify against them, arbitrarily reversing previous rulings on products that are already in production…little things like that are nothing to worry our little heads about.

I laud their efforts with HR4900 but I’m not holding my breath on its even getting out of committee. As great as it would be to legislatively address some of these things, it costs nothing for the NRA to make a statement by clearly opposing Sullivan’s nomination and outlining the reasons for such opposition.

If they have a reason for not opposing his nomination, they sure didn’t articulate it to me in their reply.

Update: Thanks to Uncle, Here is the infamous letter (dated today). I don’t know why I couldn’t find it. Apparently, my Google-fu is weak.

Anyway, the letter is good except for one thing: It doesn’t request any kind of reply, ask for policy clarifications or reassurance that these practices will cease, it basically amounts to helpful suggestions. What the letter is saying, as far as I can tell is “we don’t like the way you are running things, but we’re not going to actually DO anything about it.”

I would have felt much better about it had it requested a response to the allegations or at least implied that the NRA may explore the possibility of contemplating the consideration of pondering the potentiality of opposing his confirmation if these concerns are not adequately addressed. It did not. In any case, that’s were we stand.


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