NRA shuns its members, represents gun industry

NRA shuns its members, represents gun industry

March 10th, 2013 in Opinion Times

The National Rifle Association is running scared.

So scared, in fact, that its leadership seems to have forgotten the group's original purpose of representing sportsmen and women. Instead, the NRA now seems to be fear-mongering to help raise the $300 million a year it takes in whipping up sentiment that every new shooting or liberal move will lead to gun bans.

Once upon a time, the group promoted warm and fuzzy father-family hunting and target practice. Now it promotes fear and hate, under the guise of a goal to protect the 2nd Amendment -- which, by the way, is not under threat.

But America is under threat, according to the hyperboles from NRA leader Wayne LaPierre.

LaPierre rallies fear and hate of Obama, Latinos, gangs, terrorists -- even the weather: "I call on Congress today to act immediately to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed officers in every single school in this nation."

Perhaps the real threat NRA perceives is one to its pocket. Membership dues don't spread as far as they used to.

Now gunmakers have become major sponsors of the NRA, contributing between $14.7 million and $38.9 million to an NRA-corporate-giving campaign since 2005, according to a report published last year by the Violence Policy Center, a nonprofit group that advocates greater gun control.

And those gunmakers have benefited. Sales of firearms and ammunition have grown 5.7 percent a year since 2007, to nearly $12 billion in 2012, according to IBIS World, a market research firm.

Despite the recession, gun sales have been growing so fast that domestic manufacturers haven't been able to keep up. Imports of guns have grown 3.6 percent a year in the last five years.

Increasingly in those years, NRA has thrown much of that money at both state legislators and congress -- not to follow the wishes of the group's constituency as much as to carry the water for NRA's newest and primary sponsors: Gun and ammunition makers.

In 2012, the NRA spent more $25 million to elect and re-elect -- or to target and defeat -- congressional lawmakers considering gun control legislation.

The group spent more than $13 million in a failed attempt to defeat President Obama.

Other NRA expenditures:

• About $6.7 million went to elect Republicans while $49,000 went to elect Democrats.

• Another $18 million was targeted to defeat Democrats.

• Nearly $235,000 was aimed at defeating gun-unfriendly Republicans.

In Tennessee, the NRA gave Sen. Bob Corker, Rep. Scott DesJarlais, Rep. Diane Black and Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, to name a few, according to Opensecrets.com

The group doesn't stop with Congress. It's busy throwing money at state legislators and candidates, too.

Just ask former Tennessee Rep. Debra Maggart, the former chair of the Republican caucus and a lifelong member of the NRA who dared to decline supporting a bill last year that would permit Tennesseans to keep guns inside locked cars.

"They made me an example," she said of the NRA when the group spent $155,000 to defeat her with ads that linked her to President Obama on gun control.

In recent weeks, Tennessee lawmakers approved guns in workplace parking lots -- even if employers forbid it. The normally business-friendly General Assembly turned a deaf ear to concerns of huge employers such as Volkswagen.

Last week, the NRA had Georgia lawmakers seeking to ease rules preventing some mentally ill people from getting licenses to carry firearms. The same bill may change Georgia law to allow people to carry guns in churches, bars and on college campuses.

What kind of sportsmanship advocacy is this?

Not even the majority of NRA members favor the no-compromise position of LaPierre who draws a hard line against any expansion of background checks for gun purchases.

A 2009 poll commissioned by Mayors Against Illegal Guns found that 69 percent of NRA members would support requiring all sellers at gun shows to conduct background checks of prospective buyers, something not required now and firmly opposed by the NRA leadership.

After the Newtown school shootings, NRA membership support for background checks for all gun sales rose still higher. Nearly three quarters (74 percent) of NRA members supported a background check system for all gun sales, according to a poll released in January by Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Where's the disconnect?

Follow the money.