MSNBC host Ali Velshi said last month he “strongly suspects" the National Rifle Association is counting him as a “secret” member to bolster its membership count. The comment was meant to discredit the NRA, which he labeled the “gun lobby."
However, the NRA says Velshi’s claim simply isn’t true.
What did Velshi say?
Two days after the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Velshi told his viewers he is a gun owner and receives an annual membership card from the NRA, yet he’s never joined. He stated:
The NRA claims to be a membership organization — I guess like a club — yet it won't release its membership data, leading some to be skeptical about its real purpose and funding. 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.
I’m not. They don’t represent me and I suspect they don’t represent and aren’t paid for by a lot of "members."
The MSNBC host went on to claim the NRA “doesn’t represent gun owners” and alleged the pro-Second Amendment organization exists only to represent gun makers and “to protect their profits."
"I think the NRA is ingenious. 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 said.
During his tirade, Velshi never showed the NRA membership card he claimed to receive, nor did he provide any evidence to back his claims.
But what’s the truth?
According to NRA spokesman Jason Brown, who spoke with the Washington Free Beacon, Velshi is not a member of the NRA, nor has he ever been — and he’s certainly not a “secret” member.
"Mr. Velshi is not and has not been a member of the National Rifle Association,” Brown said.
Instead, Brown said Velshi, being a gun owner, may have received marketing materials from the NRA, but none of them were to confirm a “secret” membership meant to inflate membership numbers.
"It’s possible he may have received membership marketing materials that he confused as a membership card, but we maintain Mr. Velshi is not on our membership rolls,” Brown said.
Indeed, to become a member of the NRA, one has to physically sign up, either through a paper application, which may be found in many firearm magazines and at gun shows, or online. Prospective members also have to pay an annual membership fee, making a "secret" membership virtually impossible.