The NRA is lobbying and the gun companies are paying the bills
The NRA (National Rifle Association) was founded in 1871 by Civil War veterans of the North, back in the days where the most dangerous firearm was a revolver. The organization was founded by William Conant Church and General George Wood Wingate, two men who had genuine goals of teaching Americans about the recently-invented “rifle” (which the Civil War had shown we hadn’t quite mastered) and protecting the 2nd Amendment’s militia rights.
Guns in the United States have changed drastically since the Civil War, and the same can be said for the social and political climates in our country. Today we have guns that are far more dangerous than a revolver or a rifle. We have access to assault weapons like the Bushmaster AR-15. We also have organizations like the NRA who have serious lobbying power in DC, and who are now funded by a particular kind of private company (ahem, gun companies) with specific political (and financial) interests.
Last week I stumbled upon this article by The Atlantic’s Jordan Weissmann: New Evidence that the NRA Might be Just Another Corporate Front. It would appear that the NRA is just like any other terrifying group in Washington: it is swayed by money and funded by extremely rich corporations (ahem, gun companies). This constant flow of money to the NRA has serious implications for the organization’s ability to lobby for the interests of their “members”.
In 2010 the NRA received $71 million in donations—many of these donations coming directly from the gun industry. The NRA has 22 “corporate partners” (ahem, gun companies) and 12 of these corporations manufacture assault weapons: Arsenal, Inc.; Benelli; Beretta USA Corporation; Charles Daly; DPMS Panther, Arms; FNH USA; McMillan Group International; ParaUSA; Remington Arms Co., Inc.; SIGARMS, Inc.; Smith & Wesson Corporation; and Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc.
With such huge flow of money it is no surprise that the NRA has such impressive lobbying power and the ability to mobilize their members at a moment’s notice because of their excellent outreach. Open Secrets reports that “[d]uring the 2010 election cycle, the NRA spent more than $7.2 million on independent expenditures at the federal level — messages that advocate for or against political candidates”.
The NRA has succeeded in winning concealed weapon laws for college campuses, limiting local governments’ rights to restrict guns, and even ensuring that the assault weapon ban was not renewed. Basically, if the NRA wants to lobby for a cause or against a politician there is little anyone can do to stop it from happening.
This also means that if the NRA wants to lobby for a cause that is in the interest of their “corporate partners”, who are donating millions of dollars a year to the organization, there is little anyone can do to stop it from happening.
Now more than ever the NRA is making it known that they are against any form of gun control, including restricting any sort of firearms and restricting who can buy firearms—this means background checks too. Implementing background check for the legal purchase of firearms would mean that some individuals would be denied the right to possess one, a goal the NRA frowns on.
The interesting thing about the NRA’s lobbying against background checks is that 74 percent of NRA members support mandatory background checks for individuals purchasing guns. Because NRA members in general are not stupid. Background checks before gun purchases simply make sense, whether the purchase is in a store or at a gun show. Individuals with violent backgrounds should not have unfettered access to guns, plain and simple!
So why is the NRA lobbying against restrictions like background checks despite the fact that the majority of its members support mandatory background checks? Is there any doubt that it’s because of the organizations “corporate partners” (ahem, gun companies), who would lose business if anyone were restricted from buying a gun? After the string of recent gun tragedies, there can be no doubt: the NRA’s involvement in politics does not reflect the views of the majority of NRA members themselves, but it does reflect the gun companies paying the bills.