The NRA’s Path To Power

It’s on the tip of everyone’s tongue, at the center of most discussions, in the headlines of every news outlet:  The National Rifle Association, aka NRA.  The debate about gun regulations is raging, much the same as it always does after a mass shooting, particularly one involving children, but this one may be different, for those children were on the cusp of adulthood, and their friends, those who survived the shooting in Parkland, Florida almost two weeks ago, are old enough to be outraged that a young man, one of their former classmates, was able to buy a military-grade assault weapon, ammunition, and mow down their friends without a thought.  They are outraged to hear politicians skirting around the issue of gun regulation, rather than answering their tough questions.  They are old enough to become activists, and they have a vested interest in doing so.

At a Town Hall just days after the shooting, 17-year-old Cameron Kasky asked Senator  Marco Rubio this question:

“Can you tell me right now that you will not accept a single donation from the NRA?”

And Rubio’s response?

“I will always accept the help of anyone who agrees with my agenda.”

Yes, the NRA is a powerful lobby, with many of our elected representatives firmly in their pockets.  Rubio’s agenda?  It’s whatever the NRA tells him it is, if he wishes to maintain his A- rating with the NRA and keep the campaign donations and other perks rolling in.  But it wasn’t always this way.  The NRA did not start out to rule the nation from behind the scenes, but rather began with the goal of teaching rifle competency and safety.  It wasn’t until 1934 that the NRA created its Legislative Affairs Division, prompted by what they saw as attacks on 2nd Amendment ‘rights’.  Until 1975, the group contented itself with merely informing its members of pending gun legislation.

hands-tiedIn 1975, however, the group created its Institute for Legislative Action, in response it says, to “the critical need for political defense of the 2nd Amendment”.  Then in 1990, they created the NRA Foundation, a tax-exempt organization that allows the NRA “to raise millions of dollars to fund gun safety and educational projects of benefit to the general public.”

The reality, however, is that the NRA actively supports, both through direct campaign contributions and through advertising, those political candidates who vote against any and all gun regulation.  And they advertise against those candidates who support such things as a ban on assault weapons, enhanced background checks, waiting periods or any other restrictions on gun ownership.  They also provide legal services to those convicted in gun-related cases.  If you shoot me and I sue you, the NRA would likely pay your legal fees. (Don’t get any ideas, okay?)

The NRA’s power once again increased in 1994, after President Clinton signed the ban on assault weapons, as well as the Brady Bill, which called for background checks and a waiting period for purchasing a gun.  The NRA went into overdrive, and since it was a mid-term election year, were quite successful in helping candidates opposed to those two measures get elected.

On April 20, 1999, in Littleton, Colorado, two Columbine High School students, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, armed with four guns killed 12 classmates, a teacher, and themselves.  Less than two weeks later, the NRA held its annual meeting in Denver, just 34 miles from Littleton, where Planet of the Apes actor Charlton Heston gave a speech, saying that the NRA is often “cast as the villain,” but that they “must not let tragedy lay waste to the most rare, hard-won right in history.”

And then came December 14, 2012, and the tragedy that lives on in our memories, the shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut.  Twenty-year-old Adam Lanza killed 20 young children and six adults.  The following month, President Obama unveiled proposed legislation aimed at reducing gun violence.  The NRA response?  An ad, attacking not only Obama, but also involving his children:

“Are the president’s kids more important than yours? Then why is he skeptical about putting armed security in our schools when his kids are protected by armed guards at their school? Mr. Obama demands the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes, but he’s just another elitist hypocrite when it comes to a fair share of security.”

And now, here we are today, on the heels of yet another tragic and preventable school shooting, and the NRA is up in arms once again.  But this time feels different.  This time, the victims weren’t little kids, and this time we are all sick and tired of seeing our children die senseless deaths.  This time, the NRA is the one ‘under the gun’.  Last week, ThinkProgress identified some of the companies who partner with the NRA, providing service discounts to members – car rental companies, hotels, banks, airlines***.  In response to the public outcry, many of those companies, the notable exception being FedEx, have severed ties with the NRA.  FedEx has declined to sever ties with the NRA, saying it would be ‘discriminatory’.  Many shippers say they will switch their business to UPS, DHL, or the USPS.  I ship little, but will not use FedEx in the future.

Today, ThinkProgress published a list of all the banks who are financing the assault weapons industry.  The list contains some of the largest banks in the nation, including JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley, and Bank of America.  The banks may not quite as easily sever their ties, but citizens with a conscience may well take their business elsewhere.  I was pleased to see that neither of my own banks was on the list. On a positive note, Bank of America issued the following statement:

“We are joining other companies in our industry to examine what we can do to help end the tragedy of mass shootings, and an immediate step we’re taking is to engage the limited number of clients we have that manufacture assault weapons for non-military use to understand what they can contribute to this shared responsibility.”

It’s a start, folks.  A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, yes?

Yes, the NRA is a powerful lobby, one that exists solely to help gun manufacturers, sporting goods companies, and others involved in the manufacture and sales of firearms and ammunition.  Make no mistake … the NRA is not about the safety of this nation and its people … it is all about money.  Two weeks ago, this nation suffered a massive tragedy, one that could have … would have … been avoided had it not been for the firearms industry and the NRA, and the elected officials who are in their pockets.  It wasn’t the first time, nor will it be the last.  But this time feels different.  This time, the young people are raising their voices and saying #NeverAgain.  And the NRA is feeling the heat, as evidenced by Wayne LaPierre’s off-the-wall speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), which will be the topic of my next post.

*** Note:  Just as I scheduled this post last night, I saw the following headline:  

Georgia’s lieutenant governor says he will ‘kill’ Delta tax break unless airline reinstates relationship with NRA

“I will kill any tax legislation that benefits Delta unless the company changes its position and fully reinstates its relationship with the NRA,” tweeted Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, referring to a bill that could save Delta taxes on jet fuel. “Corporations cannot attack conservatives and expect us not to fight back.”

See what I mean, friends?  It is not about the safety or well-being of this nation.  It is about profits, plain and simple.

26 thoughts on “The NRA’s Path To Power

  1. Thank you for all that background. I read this to my son this morning. It galls me to no end that our church is going to be conducting some “Active Shooter Training” next month, since churches are becoming targets more and more. I find myself thinking I’m glad I usually set right by the emergency exit in the front. I would never have thought about that two years ago. I think I’m tired of looking over my shoulder all the time… Love your blog, Jill.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! I know what you mean. Two years ago, I didn’t look at the waistband of strangers in a store, looking to see if there was a bulge that would indicate a gun, but now I do. And more than once I have seen a gun peeking out of a man’s waistband as he bent down to look at a magazine in the bookstore. A pathetic way to live. And we’re supposed to feel safer??? Hah!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Jill,

    The NRA in refusing to consider even the most reasonable of gun control measures are boxing themselves in from being part of the solution. This organization is going to end up being the democrat’s bogeyman and they are going to lose their power to make republican legislators to watch their step.

    After all, the NRA doesn’t donate monies to GOP candidates because its members are generous and want nothing in return. The nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics estimated that during the 2016 election, the NRA and its affiliates spent a record $54m to secure Republican control of the White House and Congress, including at least $30.3m to help elect Donald Trump.

    The NRA do grade republican lawmakers as to how supportive they are regarding NRA’s policies regarding any gun control issues. They will implement TV ADS and fund primary candidates against incumbents who step out of line.

    Incidentally, Chipper Jones, the Braves’ newly-elected Hall of Fame third baseman, also is an avid sportsman but he hunts with a bow and arrow and believes civilians should not be allowed to own assault weapons like the AR-15.

    As per a 6/16/16 Time Magazine by Sam Frizell, “Eugene Stoner (the inventor of the AR15), designed the AR-15 and subsequent M-16 as a military weapon to give our soldiers an advantage over the AK-47,” the Stoner family told NBC News. “He died long before any mass shootings occurred. But, we do think he would have been horrified and sickened as anyone, if not more by these events.”

    Then there is US Rep Brian Mast, a combat vet who lost both his legs who describes the AR15 as a military weapon.

    Facts do matter.

    Hugs, Gronda

    Liked by 1 person

    • Facts absolutely DO matter, and all you say is true. The NRA buys politicians so they will vote down any gun legislation that might interfere with their profits, or their contributions from the firearms manufacturers, of which the President of the NRA is one. And the AR-15 WAS originally designed for the military, not civilian use. And I could go on. Did you happen to see the comment from James Singer? Feel free to respond, if you wish. Sigh. Can we wake up now? Hugs, my dear friend!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Jill, one of the reasons the NRA is so powerful and scare politicians is there power to mobilize a passionate electorate that is louder than its size and is leveraged further by gerrymandering. The significant majority of gun owners do not belong to the NRA, but legislators describe getting more calls from NRA members on gun issues than those opposed to their stance.

    What may be changing, though, is the passion of these kids saying enough is enough. My guess is we will see some window dressing changes on gun governance, but it will fall short. The key is will these young folks vote in the fall.

    I wish we could take all the politics out of this and holistically look at solutions to all causes which must include better gun governance. In my view, we need to look at this issue as parents and not politicians, especially with respect to 2/3 of our gun deaths being suicides and too many due to accidental shootings. Thanks for writing this, Keith

    Liked by 2 people

    • “Louder than their size” …. that is so true in so many areas, isn’t it? And yes, we will see window-dressing, like Trump talking about banning bump stocks. How many gun deaths will that avoid? Very few. But, these kids … they have stamina, they have a cause, and I don’t think they will simply ‘sit down and shut up’. And, the rest of us … we have November 6th, and we need to be ready to do our part then. And before then, by continuing our letter/phone activism. Question for you … how much good do you think these various on-line petitions for one thing and another do? I sign very few of them, mostly environmental ones, like Friends of the Earth, etc. But Herb has been signing every single one that comes his way, and I’m not sure but that it’s a waste of time and effort. Your thoughts?


  4. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    #NeverAgain … and the young shall lead!! Indeed … it’s all about PROFITS!! No doubt!!
    … ‘This time feels different. This time, the victims weren’t little kids, and this time we are all sick and tired of seeing our children die senseless deaths. This time, the NRA is the one ‘under the gun’.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Again, another essay from you so full of holes, it looks like one of my targets from the range! Your comment, “…Florida almost two weeks ago, are old enough to be outraged that a young man, one of their former classmates, was able to buy a military-grade assault weapon, ammunition, and mow down their friends without a thought. ” Is WRONG! The AR-15 is NOT a “military grade weapon.” I know this because unlike most of your followers, I am a combat veteran with Actual experience with “military grade” weapons.
    The AR-15 was designed by an engineer at ARMALITE in the late 50’s. It was a civilian rifle that was later redesigned for military use and later adopted by the U.S. military as the M-16 (Full-Auto capability).

    Your timeline on the NRA leaves out the most important information about its humble beginnings. The NRA’s roots actually begin during/after Reconstruction (after the Civil War) when these horrible white Republicans assisted in arming former slaves so as to help them defend themselves against the KKK and other racist pieces-of-shit.

    The NRA isn’t even in the Top 50 of organizations that contribute to members of Congress. Big Pharma and other corporations give Hundreds-of-MILLIONS to politicians EVERY election cycle! The NRA, by contrast, has contributed just over 22 Million since 1989! The NRA is made up of over 5 Million American citizens and growing by the hundreds+ Every day now (Thank you, anti-gun extremists!!)!

    The NRA had NOTHING to do with this tragic event not any of the others. No one can point to ONE NRA member who has committed any of these horrible crimes. EVERY single shooter has been a registered Democrat/Leftist/Socialist or MUSLIM.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Okay, for starters, I did actually do my homework, at least a bit of it, and what I found about the AR-15 is that “Eugene Stoner, designed the AR-15 and subsequent M-16 as a military weapon to give our soldiers an advantage over the AK-47” That comes from Stoner’s family members.

      I also realize that Pharma and other industries, including agriculture, tech, coal & oil, and others donate more money to political candidates than the NRA. However, I, and many others I believe, see the intent, the goals of the NRA as being potentially far more sinister, more dangerous to society, than some others. Yes, I could do numerous posts about any of the others, most notably the fossil fuel industry and the Pharma industry … but I cannot take on every battle at once. For now, I see the gun lobby as particularly sinister, for they are blocking common-sense legislation that would not take guns out of all citizen’s hands, but would limit who could get a gun, how quickly, what type of gun, etc. I fully support a ban on assault weapons. If you tell me you need a gun to protect your family, for you live on the South side of Chicago … okay. But why an assault weapon? No, I don’t see it. And suicides, the most common form of gun fatality … so many of them could be stopped by having a waiting period. And one that has never, to my knowledge, been proposed, but I think is a common sense idea … proficiency/competency testing. You have to prove you are at least a decent driver to obtain a driving license, yes? But you don’t have to prove that you even know which end of the gun is which in order to get gun license.

      And to your last point … I do not blame NRA members, most of whom are decent folks who have done no harm. I blame the NRA leadership, who have done a great deal of harm in blocking any serious gun legislation for years. The likes of Wayne LaPierre? Unconscionable. The NRA isn’t about promoting the safety of our nation … they are largely funded by the weapons/firearms manufacturers, and in fact their president of the NRA is the CEO of one such company. Did you check out LaPierre’s speech at CPAC? The man comes off as a conspiracy theorist!

      Anyway, I appreciate your opinions, and I truly do research before I put fingers to keyboard. I’m interested on your take of the first part of this comment.


      • Okay. Read this Carefully. DRIVIN is a Privilege NOT a CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT. You do know the difference, right? Why is that unlike the rest of the Bill of Rights, the 2nd Amendment is treated with such disdain, such disrespect?! Okay, the Founding Fathers NEVER contemplated word processors, smart phones, the internet…etc. Let’s just go back to the single page printing presses.
        People like you rail against the NRA whom had NOTHING to do with ANY of these tragic events. Just listen to all these unknowing and firearm ignorant idiots scraming for “common-sense” gun control. Where are the voices for common-sense 1st Amendment control on all those BLM, Black Pather, ANTIFA….etc Assholes who call for the MURDERING of Police, White people and anyone else they don’t like?!
        It’s NOT conspiracy when there are, in fact, people out to Ban guns, Restrict CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS! On the Bright side, membership in the NRA is rising faster that a Black Power Fist thrown into the air!
        BTW, the NRA isn’t the only group out there. Keep running your mouths, it’s a great way to drive those membership rolls! The loudest voice in the room usually isn’t the correct nor the smartest one.
        As for the first part of your essay, the only part as read, that needs tweaking is that you need to make clear, the AR-15 was NOT designed for the military, the derivative, M-16 was specifically designed for the military.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Sigh. I bet you would argue with a brick wall, wouldn’t you? And don’t even think to compare me to a brick wall!

          Now, whether driving and carrying a gun are constitutional rights or ‘privileges’, each are putting a deadly weapon into the hands of a human being, and frankly, I don’t even want to be in the same city as somebody who is either driving a car or shooting a gun, who has not been proven to know how to do so safely. The constitution does not say that everybody in the nation has a right to wield a firearm in any manner they wish. Neither does it state that they must be competent and trained, but to me that is a logical conclusion.

          To an extent, I would agree, and have argued recently on this blog, that there need to be some restrictions on free speech. It is a slippery slope, and needs to be done mindfully, but the likes of white supremacists and neo-Nazis inciting violence, I think, needs to be curtailed. Note that I said ‘curtailed’, not banned.

          And, according to the family of the man who invented the AR-15, it WAS in fact intended for military use. As he is dead, you nor I will ever prove his intent, but it does not belong in the hands of just any Tom, Dick or Harry. Would you not at least agree to that?


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