MSNBC host Ali Velshi expressed his suspicion Friday that the National Rifle Association secretly counts him as a member in order to maintain the facade of broad membership.
Velshi spoke directly toward the camera to explain that he is a gun owner who receives mail from the NRA with a membership card, but he has not joined and does not agree with the group. Describing the NRA as synonymous with "the gun lobby," he argued that it keeps gun owners like him in its "secret records" in order to boost its membership.
"The NRA claims to be a membership organization—I guess like a club—but they won't release their data, leading some to be skeptical about its real purpose and funding," Velshi said. "I'm a gun owner. Every year I receive a membership card from the NRA with a membership number. I've never asked for one. I've never paid for one, but I strongly suspect that I am counted in the secret records of the NRA as a member."
Soliciting membership by sending potential members a card in the mail is a common fundraising and marketing practice.
Velshi said the NRA represents the gun industry but maintains the front that it represents gun owners by courting them for membership.
"The NRA is the gun industry's lobby," he said. "It doesn't represent gun owners. It represents gun makers and exists to protect their profits—the same as the pharma lobby or the bank lobby or the corn lobby. Strangely, we all use drugs and banks and most of us eat corn, but we don't have cards that indicate our membership and support of those industries and their lobbies."
Calling this alleged tactic "ingenious," Velshi said the NRA pits gun owners against the "vast majority of Americans" who want gun control.
"I think the NRA is ingenious," he said. "It does the bidding of gun makers under the cover of being a broad-based membership organization, and it uses the money from the industry to promote a way of thinking that pits ordinary, responsible gun owners against the vast majority of Americans who believe in gun control."
Velshi also accused Americans of being peculiarly unable to "confront" the Second Amendment and admit it was "uniquely relevant in times gone by" and is not "applicable in the same way" today.
"No one else in the world seems to be able to make sense of why America can't confront, intellectually or politically, a constitutional amendment that reasonable people understand to have been uniquely relevant in times gone by and not applicable in the same way to our modern existence," he said.