NRA capitalizes on mass shootings

The gun lobbying group maintains powerful ties with the GOP and the Christian Right.

Justin Yun, Writer

For the past few years, the tragic news of mass shootings and gun violence have saturated our newsfeed and airwaves. Shootings have happened at our schools, malls, places of worship and on our streets. Sandy Hook, Orlando, Columbine, Virginia Tech and Charleston are all reminders of infamous lone wolf attacks. The recent shootings in Houston register in our mind, but we are not surprised and are often numb to it. What fails to register in the minds of most Americans, however, is the political influence of the National Rifle Association — one of the most prominent and powerful lobbying groups. The NRA has a dark history but no one seems to talk about it.

More Than Weapons

Guns are more than weapons. The rifle and revolver are much-beloved symbols of freedom, masculinity and true grit in American culture and folklore. Despite the fact guns were used to maintain slavery and carry out the long oppression of Native Americans, they have become synonymous with independence and patriotism. The NRA has capitalized on the myths that arose out of Manifest Destiny and have used it to market their organization.

I love shooting guns and I support the Second Amendment, but I cannot support the NRA. The lobbying group has had a massive influence on the GOP and the Christian Right, but the NRA is not the organization they claim to be. The NRA has become an apparatus for protecting the gun industry’s profit margins rather than an advocacy group for defending freedom and liberty. Whenever there is a mass shooting, gun sales skyrocket and gun companies make a large profit. Michael Fifer, the Chief Executive of Sturm, Ruger & Co., once described the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino as a “big opportunity for the distributors to step up and take on inventory.” A CNBC report shows how “shares of gunmakers Smith & Wesson and Sturm Ruger gained 6.9 percent and 8.5 percent, respectively, Monday following the massacre in Orlando, Florida.” Afraid of a possible gun ban, gun owners rush to buy AR-styled rifles and large quantities of ammunition. Lee Fang writes in The Intercept on how the NRA protects use their political power to protect companies’ profit margins.

Funding Restrictions

We also know the NRA intentionally blocks funds for the Center of Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) research on gun violence. An article by Smithsonian shows how the CDC was not able to conduct studies on gun violence after the shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school because of the restrictions placed on funding for the past twenty years. Politicians that oppose funding for gun research are often funded by the NRA. Despite the fact most American support universal background checks and sensible gun control, the NRA has “contributed a total of more than $36 million to 50 Republican senators over the course of their careers” according to an article by Truthout. Bill Scher writes in Truthout on how Donald Trump has received over “$6 million in TV ads” from the NRA.

The NRA has changed over the past few decades. From supporting gun control measures like the Mulford Act, the NRA has become a powerful lobbying group using big money to protect gun manufacturers and spread fear and paranoia the government will knock down people’s doors and take their guns away.

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