Many may recall the 1992 Presidential campaign, when retired Navy admiral and Medal of Honor winner James Stockdale was tapped by Ross Perot as the Reform Party Vice-Presidential candidate just days before the candidates were to debate on national TV. Stockdale, realizing his lack of notoriety, chose as his opening remarks for the debate, “Who am I, and why am I here?” We laughed because it was funny, and true.
We at CSSA sometimes find ourselves in Admiral Stockdale’s situation—some folks don’t know who we are and why we exist. I hope his message helps to explain what CSSA is and does.
Who are we?
The Colorado State Shooting Association is the official state association of the National Rifle Association.
What does that mean? To understand the concept of state associations, one first must understand what the NRA is, and is not. The NRA is a national organization. As such, it is concerned and occupied with issues of national concern. Over thirty years ago, the NRA leadership realized that it could not adequately and efficiently manage and support its mission at both the state and national levels—the task was too big and the management scheme too cumbersome. The answer was to establish official state associations to perform traditional NRA functions at the state level.
Therefore, as the NRA state association, CSSA is concerned and occupied with issues of statewide concern and performs specific delegated functions at the state level under the auspices of the NRA. That being explained, it is important to emphasize that CSSA is an independent state organization led and operated by leadership elected by its members. Although we work very closely with the NRA in many areas, we are not a branch of the NRA. We are more akin to an independent contractor selected by the NRA to serve Colorado.
Nevertheless, CSSA and NRA are separate organizations that require their own individual sources of financial support. Your membership in the NRA is essential to helping preserve and protect our firearms rights, but it does not directly support independent state associations such as CSSA. Therefore, both organizations need and appreciate your continued support.
Why are we here?
Let’s look at what CSSA does:
First, as the NRA state association, CSSA is the sanctioning body of all official NRA firearms matches in Colorado. In order to compete in a state or regional championship match you must be a member of CSSA if you are a Colorado resident. This is how many CSSA members (including myself) discovered the association. Most learn quickly however, that CSSA is more than just an official sanctioner of state matches. We provide funding and support for all shooting sports statewide, including women and juniors. Support comes in the form of sponsoring shooting teams and events, recruiting commercial sponsors, coordinating volunteers to work matches and providing and/or identifying instructors and services, to name a few.
Additionally, we are the official state association of the Civilian Marksmanship Program, a quasi-governmental program that promotes rifle marksmanship though the sponsoring of matches and the sales of military and match rifles/parts/ammo. You must be a member of CSSA or a CMP-sanctioned club in order to purchase items, including M1 Garand and other service rifles and rimfire match rifles, through the CMP.
Second, we are the information lightning rod for shooters and the shooting sports in Colorado. We are currently striving to improve our information banks on clubs, ranges, matches, gun shows, laws and regulations and legislation. We have established this user-friendly web site with significantly increased features and information. We continue to maintain a business office to respond to inquiries and serve member needs. CSSA representatives appear on radio, television and in print to advocate the rights and interests of Colorado shooters.
Additionally, CSSA is the chief state pro-gun lobbying force at the capitol. Since 1999, CSSA has been instrumental in defeating every anti-gun bill introduced at the General Assembly, and has worked to get pro-gun legislation like modifying the law pertaining to carrying firearms in your vehicle and pre-empting Denver’s “stop and confiscate” ordinance in 2000. CSSA and its members played a major role in finally passing meaningful uniform concealed handgun permit legislation in 2003, making Colorado the 33rd “shall-issue” state in the U.S.
Even more importantly, in 2003 CSSA led the charge in passing legislation that pre-empts many local and municipal gun control laws that have plagued gun owners for years. Thanks to the work of CSSA and its membership, travel bans, ownership databases and bans on “assault weapons” are history, and cities that ban open carry must now clearly post those areas. CSSA has also worked successfully every year to keep the legislature from imposing a tax on firearms purchases to fund the redundant and unnecessary CBI checks forced on Colorado gun buyers.
All of this has come to pass because CSSA directors and members played an active and prominent role in rallying pro-gun voters across the state to vote in critical elections. CSSA has sent out the word—the pro-gun vote in Colorado is an essential element to political victory, and Colorado’s politicians now know it! We haven’t heard the last of many anti-gun groups that continue to assault our First Freedom. They will always have a huge war chest at their disposal and plan on fighting every gun rights bill that comes down the pike, as well as trying to derail the recent gains we have made. CSSA will meet them and all other enemies of our First Freedom head-on and keep Colorado gun owners informed of what’s taking place in the political process.
The mantle of rallying Colorado gun owners to political battles has fallen squarely on CSSA and we plan on continuing in that role as long as the anti-gun onslaught continues. The beauty of a dynamic association is that we are always looking to appeal to, and meet the needs of, a wide variety of shooting interests. The above paragraphs are just a general overview, but I think they illustrate how CSSA benefits all Colorado shooters. That doesn’t mean, however, that we cannot explore new and different fields. As the definitive pro-gun organization in Colorado, CSSA requires and values feedback and suggestions from our fellow Colorado shooters.
With CSSA’s leadership and members working together, we can continue to expand our political influence and the public’s understanding of, and participation in, the shooting sports. If you are a member, thanks for your support; if not, please join us and strike a blow for freedom!