Now that the NRA has figured out that the next generation of consumers may not be as interested in buying guns as previous generations, they have started their own television and Internet network, NRA Freestyle, where "adventure, style, culture and firearms collide." It'll be interesting to see whether an organization whose rank-and-file membership is overwhelmingly white, male, rural, blue-collar and committed to "family values," can re-orient itself to capture the hearts and minds of a population that is increasingly non-white, college educated, urban-suburban and pro-gay rights. And most of all, it's a population, according to Pew and other surveys, that has little, if any, loyalty or even interest in the ideology of old fashioned liberal or conservative points of view.
With these thoughts in mind I tuned into the premiere of Noir, the first show to be aired on the Freestyle network. The headliner, Colion Noir, is an African-American young man from Texas who has been part of the NRA commentators stable for the past year and is considered the "proof" that one can be hip, cool, minority and dig guns. Noir is joined by Amy Robbins, whose presence and her comments reminding everyone of the importance of the female gun market even though, in fact, women continue to show little interest in guns.
But despite the hip and cool verbal pitter-patter between a black guy and a white girl, let's not forget what the show's really all about. It takes Noir and Robbins about five minutes to deliver a snarky and totally irrelevant rant against Hillary Clinton, with a reminder that a Clinton presidency would mark a new chapter in the attack on citizen-owned guns. And then at about the 10 minute mark, after our two hosts are joined by Billy Johnson, who regularly delivers conservative tirades against gun control on NRA webcasts, the show becomes just another vehicle for attacking former NYC mayor Mike Bloomberg and his attempts to use "government" to tell us all "how to run our own lives."
Up until the Bloomberg rant, I thought the show was making some headway into changing the image of the NRA from a hardcore, politicized advocacy organization into something that a younger, less politically-committed generation might find easier to accept. But Mr. Noir, believe me when I tell you that using about half the show to push out the same, old, NRA-style attacks against the "enemies" of the 2nd Amendment isn't hip, isn't cool, and it isn't style combined with culture. Colion Noir, my man, it's just boring and dull.
Want to see a video that casts the issue of guns in a unique and original way? Take a look at what my friends Jon and Rebecca Bond recently posted on YouTube for their organization, Evolve. It's all about guns but it's funny, sardonic, impressively professional and, most of all, doesn't force-feed a particular point of view. The problem with the arguments on both sides of the gun question is you know what they're going to say before they start talking. And that's because they've all been saying the same thing for the past 20 or 30 years. The NRA can promote a black dude who knows how to talk the talk and walk the walk, but when he tells viewers that Hillary's going to take away their guns, he's back to the same old, same old.
The Evolve video is a clever and entertaining way of saying that we need to break away from the tired, old bromides that have for too long defined the gun debate on both sides. Liberals don't like guns? Conservatives want a gun in every home? I don't think the Millennial generation really cares whether people are red, white, black or blue. If the NRA or the Brady Campaign want to convince Millennials that guns are good or bad, they better start talking in ways that really connect or they'll be talking to themselves.