Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Who the N.R.A. Really Speaks For


AN angry and exasperated President Obama, speaking to the nation last Thursday after the slaughter in Roseburg, Ore., made one oblique reference to the National Rifle Association, asking gun owners to question whether their “views are properly being represented by the organization that suggests it’s speaking for you.”

It’s a fair question, and not only because the N.R.A. has single-handedly dictated the shape of the debate over guns for decades. Whether they own guns or not, Americans should understand the outsize role the N.R.A. plays, not only in thwarting sensible gun safety laws but also in undermining law enforcement by abetting gun traffickers, criminal gun dealers and criminal gun users.

The N.R.A., which claims some 4.5 million members, often professes to speak for all gun owners — hunters, sportsmen, collectors and ordinary Americans who keep guns for self-defense. But on some issues, most gun owners clearly reject the party line.

In 2012, the Republican pollster Frank Luntz found that 87 percent of gun owners supported criminal background or “Brady” checks for all gun purchases. Following the December 2012 massacre of 20 children in Newtown, Conn., another poll showed that 92 percent of Americans supported background checks for all buyers, including those buying on the Internet and at gun shows.

But by April 2013, when the Senate considered a bill to do just that, the N.R.A. campaign to defeat it was in full swing. The N.R.A. tagged the bill as a top priority and made clear that senators who opposed it risked receiving a low N.R.A. rating, which many of its single-issue supporters use in deciding how to vote, or a flood of negative television ads.

Licensed gun dealers slated to run the new background checks would have reaped millions, as thousands of new customers would have been sent to their stores. But like many members of Congress — who cower in fear of the ratings system and negative campaign advertising — the dealers knew not to cross the N.R.A. So the measure went down, with opponents arguing that criminals don’t bother submitting to background checks.

(More here.)


Blogger Tom Koch said...

I am not a member of the NRA because I do not agree with a few of their positions. At the same time, leftists would do well to understand two issues related to their NRA smears:

- Trust matters. The administration who lied about health care (not to mention employed Gruber, a proud liar) simply cannot be trusted when it comes to limits on guns. Trust matters and this administration doesn't deserve trust, on guns or health care.
- Leftists seem fine with the power of the public employee and teacher unions yet always have issue with the NRA power. NRA members voluntarily become members, too bad the same cannot be said with public employee unions with forced membership. One must wonder, are leftists addicted to force?

8:58 PM  

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