Rejecting the “New Normal” and Pushing Back Against the Tyranny of the Minority
Another day, another tragedy.
Welcome to the new normal in America. The latest example of horrifyingly frequent wholesale butchery reminds us all that there is nothing we can really do. This is simply the price we pay for living in a free society. Or at least that is what the NRA would have you believe.
The infamous gun rights organization has a significant portion of the population convinced that any measure at all designed to regulate guns, no matter how small, is tantamount to an assault on their precious liberty.
A group of roughly 5 million members, they have managed to totally hijack our political process, annihilating anything or anyone who gets in their way. They represent a tiny minority of the public, meanwhile support for gun control consistently polls at over 50%. Steve Bramucci of Uproxx puts it best in his call for an Anti-NRA:
For decades now, the NRA has gaslighted a nation — convincing voters that the problem isn’t guns and that they’re silly for ever thinking so.
By engaging in this kind of psychological warfare, they have managed to scare enough of the right people to maintain their hold on public policy. But they are far from just a group of policy wonks. They are a lobbying arm for the gun manufacturing industry, which is a 49 billion dollar a year business. And they are frighteningly effective at what they do.
Follow the Money
As one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington, the NRA is a big business. They run as a well-oiled machine with a singular purpose: opposing any regulations or restrictions that might slow the rate of guns that are flooding the market from American gun manufacturers.
Megan R. Wilson of The Hill did an excellent job documenting the NRA’s power by the numbers. Here are some highlights:
- They took in $336.7 million in revenue for 2015, the last year available. Of that, $165.7 million was dues
- They have several other associated nonprofit spin-offs, which “support a wide range of firearm-related public interest activities”. These organizations raised additional funds of $101.16 million that same year.
- Donations to political candidates totaled more than $54 million in the 2016 election cycle, with $31.194 million allotted specifically towards electing president Trump. House and Senate elections totaled over $66 million
Their money has been well spent, as there has not been any meaningful gun legislation passed on a national level in over 20 years.
The Jig is Up
Gun rights advocates have long hidden behind the warm and fuzzy language of freedom and liberty to justify stockpiling mini arsenals in their basement. Its easy to defend weapons for hunting, and slightly less so when discussing personal defense issues such as concealed carry permits. The logic flies totally off the rails when discussing military grade weapons being sold to civilians with impunity.
And yet, the gun nuts persist, left with only the fantasy that they alone, armed with a small arsenal, will be the lone bulwark against tyranny, as Matt Taibbi brilliantly points out. From Rolling Stone:
The tyranny argument, the gun lobby’s last excuse, is a joke. People aren’t buying up military-grade weapons in preparation for some new-world-order Anschluss into flyover country.
Americans are just bored and crazy and insecure and like to calm their nerves by shooting bottles, Kim Jong-un paper targets, and, pretty regularly now, crowds full of innocent human beings. It’s madness, and there aren’t enough highly paid pseudo-intellectual gun lobbyists in the world to justify it anymore. Can we finally at least drop the pretense that this is about anything but money?
We are awash in guns, and we won’t be having any national conversation about it anytime soon. Congress won’t be enacting any laws or writing new regulations. These shootings show no signs of stopping. This is the new reality.
It is time to declare that enough is enough, and stand up to the tyranny of the minority. Groups like Everytown For Gun Safety are organizing at the grassroots level, and starting the process of wrangling power back from the lobbyists.
It will be a long hard fight, but one that is worth having if we ever want to end the stranglehold that the NRA has on our politics.