I linked and posted George Will's excellent editorial today. I meant to then, but forgot, point out one point that needs some further clarification.
Mr. Will states
Each of the 4 million pays $35 in annual dues. Polls indicate that another 14 million Americans think that they are NRA members and an additional 28 million think they are affiliated in some way with the NRA because of their membership in one or more of the 35,000 shooting and hunting clubs.
Those are rather impressive, but somewhat misleading figures.
While the basic costs to an annual dues paying member are generally $35, I suspect most annual members pay the $25 fee that they can purchase at their favorite gun or sporting goods store (heck, my brother paid that at the NRA HQ Range). While I suspect the $10 is made up elsewhere, the fact remains the vast majority are NRA members are unlikely to be paying $35 a year.
That said, Mr. Will also left out another important point - many NRA members have forgone the annual membership and have opted instead for a lifetime membership ($700+) or, if cheap like me, the Extended Pay Life Membership ($25 a quarter until paid off). In addition, many NRA members also contribute substantially beyond their basic membership (which pays for the magazine and a baseball hat) and also give money to the NRAPVF, the NRA-ILA, and other groups such as their new Free Hunters group (of which I signed up for a 5 year membership).
In addition to all of that income, the NRA also raises substantial funds from their training and instruction services to private security firms, the military, and your local police force as well as the sale of advertisments in its tremendous media department (they publish dozens of magazines).
Add all that together with a ton of members, 95% of whom vote every election, and you have the proverbial 600lb gorilla of politics.
As George Will so thoughtfully points out
Liberals who lament voter apathy should be careful what they wish for.
How true. How true.