Why the Gun Lobby Usually Wins
Even after the deaths of more than 30 people at Virginia Tech, it is still unlikely that gun control legislation will be passed in Congress or state legislatures. Why? The NRA.
The NRA is the most powerful special interests group in the country. You probably remember the quote from Charleston Heston, a key NRA spokesperson, in which he said, “You will have to pry my gun from my cold, dead hands!” The NRA has been masterful at manipulating language and at building a grassroots constituency that is obsessively focused on only one issue: what it sees as the right to bearing any arms whatsoever without an kind of measures design to prevent needless deaths and injuries caused by gun violenece.
The NRA will fight for your right to own an AK-47 assault rifle, to carry concealed weapons will shopping at the market and to purchase guns at gun shows with little or no background check. Of course, its usually framed as protecting the second amendment, though I doubt that the auothor’s of the Constitution had AK-47s in mind when they talk about the right to bear arms.
This graphic shows that the NRA as spokes quote fluently the language of politics: money.
From the Politico:
At its towering headquarters in Fairfax, the NRA was also bracing for a potential showdown. Staff members were in strategy meetings most of the day, and NRA state representatives were instructed not to speak publicly. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families,” the organization said in a public statement Monday. The NRA declined to provide comment for this report.
Much of the infrastructure the organization needs for a legislative showdown was built years ago and has been maintained since. Between 1997 and 2006, the NRA spent nearly $16 million on outside lobbying shops that worked alongside its five full-time lobbyists.
Between 1990 and 2006, the organization doled out another $16 million in campaign contributions, of which 83 percent went to Republicans. The organization has also invested millions in campaign television and billboard advertising, and delivery of its 15 million-strong direct-mail voter scorecard can move the polls in House races overnight.
Its membership stands at about 3.8 million, down about 200,000 from 2004. But the relatively small rank and file can have outsized political impact because their members vote at a higher rate — 95 percent — than the overall electorate.