As we head into the March for Our Lives weekend, a look at the organization largely responsible for our glut of guns is in order. When you drill down into the issues surrounding gun violence in the U.S., it’s impossible to escape the conclusion we would not be having this debate if it were not for the National Rifle Association.
It’s my contention people of our country are being held hostage by a small group of people financed by arms manufacturers.
Their approach to keeping us interned involves generating an ‘intense state of fear,’ which just happens to be the definition of terror in the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Terrorism is therefore described as the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion.
A quick history…
The National Rifle Association has come a long way since its founding in 1871 to teach marksmanship. The motivation for its creation was the realization that the Union army in the US Civil War fired one thousand shots for every Confederate shot in battle.
In 1934, the NRA formed it lobbying group following passage of the National Firearms Act, the first federal gun-control law passed in the U.S. The group supported the act, as well as the Gun Control Act of 1968, which together created the federal system licensing gun dealers and establishing restrictions on categories and classes of firearms.
The Cleveland Revolution at the 1977 NRA convention marked the beginning of the end of the organization’s focus on mechanics and the start of the drift towards the far right side of reality.
From Politico’s How the NRA Rewrote the Second Amendment:
Conservatives tossed around the language of insurrection with the ardor of a Berkeley Weatherman. The “Revolt at Cincinnati” was followed by the “tax revolt,” which began in California in 1979, and the “sagebrush rebellion” against Interior Department land policies. All these groups shared a deep distrust of the federal government and spoke in the language of libertarianism. They formed a potent new partisan coalition.
Politicians adjusted in turn. The 1972 Republican platform had supported gun control, with a focus on restricting the sale of “cheap handguns.” Just three years later in 1975, preparing to challenge Gerald R. Ford for the Republican nomination, Reagan wrote in Guns & Ammo magazine, “The Second Amendment is clear, or ought to be. It appears to leave little if any leeway for the gun control advocate.” By 1980 the GOP platform proclaimed, “We believe the right of citizens to keep and bear arms must be preserved. Accordingly, we oppose federal registration of firearms.” That year the NRA gave Reagan its first-ever presidential endorsement.
Today at the NRA’s headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia, oversized letters on the facade no longer refer to “marksmanship” and “safety.” Instead, the Second Amendment is emblazoned on a wall of the building’s lobby. Visitors might not notice that the text is incomplete. It reads:
“.. the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
The first half—the part about the well regulated militia—has been edited out.
Today, the National Rifle Association is considered one of the most powerful influence groups in Washington DC and state capitols around the country. They raised a record $366 million and spent $412 million for political activities in 2016, not including its PAC.
How that money was acquired has been a topic of interest in recent weeks, with suggestions the Russians may have funneled as much as $30 million through the NRA’s PAC in support of Donald Trump.
The Federal Election Commission has launched a preliminary investigation into whether Russian entities gave illegal contributions to the National Rifle Association that were intended to benefit the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election, according to people who were notified of the probe.
The inquiry stems in part from a complaint from a liberal advocacy group, the American Democracy Legal Fund, which asked the FEC to look into media reports about links between the rifle association and Russian entities, including a banker with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The NRA says it has 5 million members (the number is suspect), or about 3.7% of the total ballots cast in the 2016 elections. They leverage their membership with frequent direct mail outreach, which has been more difficult since there is no longer a black man in the White House who they could cast as a threat.
From Scientific American:
Since the 2008 election of President Obama, the number of firearms manufactured in the U.S. has tripled, while imports have doubled. This doesn’t mean more households have guns than ever before—that percentage has stayed fairly steady for decades. Rather, more guns are being stockpiled by a small number of individuals. Three percent of the population now owns half of the country’s firearms, says a recent, definitive study from the Injury Control Research Center at Harvard University.
The article goes on to explain who that 3 % is, namely racially anxious white men with self-esteem and control issues.
The group has adapted to the changing media environment, distributing their content through NRATV, streamed 24/7 on its website and on Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Roku, and YouTube. Audio programming for NRATV is available on SiriusXM radio, iHeartRadio, and iTunes.
Donald Trump’s presence in Washington has required a shift in tactics for the NRA, now their energies are focused on demonizing all those who they perceive as enemies, using rhetoric stopping just short of opening advocating for violence.
Here’s Adam G. Klein, writing at The Conversation:
In my work, I came across NRA TV while tracking far-right and far-left groups’ activities on Twitter. One such group had retweeted a video from NRA TV featuring host Dana Loesch calling the mainstream media “the rat bastards of the earth” whom she was happy to see “curb stomped.”
The acidic tone of NRA TV represents an astonishing evolution of an organization that began as a rifle club to promote marksmanship. Even the NRA of the 1980s, which ran TV ads on the right to bear arms, would be hard to recognize as a forebear to today’s version.
My study of 224 NRA TV videos and tweets over two months in 2017 found that only 34 dealt with topics related to direct gun advocacy or gun ownership. The remaining 190, or about five out of every six posts, were trained on perceived political enemies, trading the core mission of gun rights for incessant attacks on “crazed liberals” and “hateful leftists.”
If the NRA’s political strategy isn’t about fomenting violence, then consider me fooled.
They’re threatened by a sea change occurring in American politics. Going beyond the partisan divide, polling shows people are growing increasingly negative about the organization itself.
Everytown for Gun Safety, the largest gun violence prevention organization in the country, now has grown to 4.5 million supporters. Moms Demand Action now has a track record of 93% of beating the NRA in state legislatures passing bills.
The Parkland survivors have effectively mobilized a younger generation determined to stop the “bs.” Millions of Americans will take to the streets for March for Our Lives, rallies with a built-in component of registering voters. The students have already successfully organized an NRA boycott that led to partnering companies like Delta and United Airlines ending discount programs for members the gun lobbying group.
And when it comes to fighting the NRA on their own turf, they know how to win.
From Teen Vogue:
Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School know how to handle bullies and mean girls — and that’s no different when they’re dealing with the NRA lobbying group and politicians who want to delegitimize their #NeverAgain movement for gun control.
Sarah Chadwick, a 16-year-old who survived the Parkland school shooting on February 14, starred in an Oscar-worthy trolling of National Rifle Association spokeswoman Dana Loesch. On Oscar Sunday, the NRA posted a video clip on Twitter where Loesch condemned Hollywood activists as “phony” and told media organizations, “Your time is running out. The clock starts now.” At the end, she flipped over an hourglass and stared at the camera for emphasis.
Sarah’s version mimics the style of the NRA video — she’s sitting with a blank wall behind her and an hourglass to her right, but that’s where the resemblances end. She wears a shirt with “March For Our Lives” emblazoned across the front, and begins speaking directly to the NRA and the politicians who have tried to brush the student activists off.
Finally, this paragraph from Scientific American is all you really need to know:
A gun in the home is far more likely to kill or wound the people who live there than is a burglar or serial killer. Most of the time, according to every single study that’s ever been done about interpersonal gun violence, the dead and wounded know the people who shot them. A gun in the home makes it five times more likely that a woman will be killed by her husband. Every week in America, 136 children and teenagers are shot—and more often than not, it’s a sibling, friend, parent, or relative who holds the gun. For every homicide deemed justified by the police, guns are used in 78 suicides. As a new study published this month in JAMA Internal Medicine once again shows us, restrictive gun laws don’t prevent white men from defending themselves and their families. Instead, those laws stop them from shooting themselves and each other.
Looking for some action? Check out the Weekly Progressive Calendar, published every Friday in this space, featuring Demonstrations, Rallies, Teach-ins, Meet Ups and other opportunities to get your activism on.
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