A new gun advocacy group calling itself a "responsible" alternative to the National Rifle Associationis launching July 4 – and it hopes to attract gun owners across the political spectrum.
The American Rifle and Pistol Association, based in Texas, says it will provide advocacy, education, and a social network for both Democrat and Republican gun enthusiasts. "R+P will offer a truly independent third voice to the highly polarized national firearms conversation, a voice of reason and responsibility, not dictated by any top-down central authority or any special interest," the group's president Robert Gelinas, an IT business executive, said in a release.
There's certainly some room for the group: 4 million gun owners belong to the NRA out of an estimated 100 million people gun owners in the country.
The NRA also skews Republican. In 2012, the gun rights group donated about 150 times more money to Republican than Democratic candidates, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The same year, Gallup found that Republicans felt most positively about the NRA, while Democrats were the most negative.
The organization hopes to attract gun enthusiasts like Austin Petersen, organizer of an upcoming "Toy Gun March" in D.C. in support of the Second Amendment, who love guns but dislikes when politics get in the way of gun rights.
"I generally like the NRA, but I think that too often sometimes they get involved in partisanship [and think] it's more important to endorse a Republican candidate over someone who might be an even stronger supporter of the Second Amendment," says Petersen.
R + P CEO Waylan Johnson, a petroleum magnate, tells Whispers he hopes the group will also set itself apart by being more focused on members than the NRA.
"The NRA represents the firearms industry. There's not a lot of membership input," Johnson says. The NRA, which did not respond to request for comment, was once a marksmanship and safety group but has increasingly focused its efforts on politics and lobbying.