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Up Against the NRA



Blood Money

"Every time there's a mass shooting in America there are calls for action to stop it from happening again. But any effort to introduce stricter gun laws always falters in the US Congress - and that's in large part because of the power of the National Rifle Association (NRA)”(Jon Sopel).

On February 14, 2018, 17 people were murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in South Florida by a teenaged-shooter wielding a legally purchased semi-automatic rifle. The real life images that came across the television screen of cell phone video streaming the blood curdling screams of innocent victims leaves a civilized mind in shambles. Questions, uncertainties, and anxieties transfixes one’s own existence. Ultimately, it is a very unsettling thought to ascertain what one might do in such a situation.

The school had conducted drills in case an active shooter overtook their school, and the training possibly did save lives, but in the final analysis, a terrifying scenario occurred. One can safely say that the public knew who was involved, what took place, where it took place, and when it happened; but the “why” it happened requires more than a rudimentary statement of the facts.

In brief, the rampage shooting in South Florida happened because a 19-year-old white male was able to purchase a firearm and use it to kill 17 people and wound many more. He killed them in the manner he did because he was able to purchase and use a military style assault weapon with rapid firing capability. In a more thorough analysis, one must recognize that, over the past decade, the NRA has mutated into a not-so-silent partner for the firearms industry, whose profits are increasingly dependent on the sale of military-bred weapons like assault rifles, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The shooter, Nikolas Cruz, was able to legally purchase a weapon of this caliber when he was 18.

A Sketch of the NRA

The NRA spends millions of dollars to promote its programs. Ads, memberships, politicians, and fear tactics all support the image of the NRA as a much needed service. And as President Trump recently suggested, regarding the shooting in South Florida, good guys with guns in schools can stop bad guys with guns in schools. Accordingly, Trump proposed that teachers—the good guys—be armed while in the classroom. Still, on the other hand, Trump added that he will rethink the selling of assault weapons to 18-year-old consumers. The gun debacle appears to be a conundrum for our President.

Instead of trying to keep guns away from children, Republican lawmakers are arguing that a school is a “soft target” if it doesn’t have an arsenal of weapons at its disposal. All available data suggests, contrary to Trump, that a “good guy” with a gun will almost never be able to stop a “bad guy” with a gun; more guns in an in-progress massacre would only lead to more carnage.

Research points to the actuality that more guns means more death, so why do politicians get in front of the camera and tell the families of the victims how sorry they are, yet the politicians keep loosening the reigns on the NRA? One answer is money: The National Rifle Association is a famously rich and powerful lobbying group that fills conservative pockets with campaign cash. Likewise, the terror that has gripped elected officials is fear of the wealthy gun lobby, to which they have let themselves be held hostage for decades.

The NRA can tap into unlimited donations from individuals and corporations to engage in direct political advocacy. The association has spent over $1 million on elections in the 2018 cycle, according to Open Secrets. It also spent $30 million to back President Trump in the 2016 presidential race, while spending millions on anti-Clinton campaigns.

"The industry has changed," according to Tom Diaz, former Democratic counsel to the House subcommittee on crime, a longtime gun-violence policy analyst and author of, The Last Gun. He said, "In terms of what sells and what is marketed most successfully, we're now talking about guns that are derived directly from military design." Likewise, according to Tim Dickinson in a Rolling Stone article, "The NRA vs. America," “Of the top 15 gun manufacturers, 11 now manufacture assault weapons, many of them variants of the AR-15 – derived from a military rifle designed to kill enemy soldiers at close-to-medium range with little marksmanship. The industry loves these modern sporting rifles because they can be tricked out with expensive scopes, loaders, lights and lasers.”

Equally concerning is the argument that the NRA receives funds directly from the sales of arms and ammunition that are put straight into the hands of mass murderers. The "Round-Up" program, launched by arms retailer Midway USA, encourages customers to increase their purchases to the nearest dollar and sends the extra coins to the association. On Sunday, March 4, 2018, MSNBC cited the NRA as receiving over a billion dollars a year in firearm sales.

The NRA has always been actively involved in recruiting youth. “We wish to ensure the future of the shooting sports by providing proper tools and resources to America's young people”, according to the NRA’s website. However, mental health professionals maintain that adolescents do not have the emotional maturity to handle the power a weapon yields nor the developmental prudence that comes with the sport (Perri Klass). Pediatricians as a group have long been concerned about the psychological effects of exposure to violence and the culture of gun violence. Adolescents are more impulsive than adults. A young brain doesn’t fully mature until the early 20s, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (2017, Tampa Bay Times). Yet, the NRA is aggressively advocating for lawmakers to maintain 18 as the legal age to purchase an assault weapon.

Second Amendment Rights

Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, and author of The Second Amendment: A Biography, underscores that today at the NRA’s headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia, oversized letters on the facade no longer refer to marksmanship and safety. Instead, the Second Amendment is emblazoned on a wall of the building’s lobby. Visitors might not notice that the text is incomplete. It reads:

“.. The right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” The first half—the part about the well-regulated militia—has been edited out.

“Fraud on the American public” is how former Chief Justice Warren Burger described the idea that the Second Amendment gives an individual the unimpeded right to a gun. The U.S. Supreme Court did not rule that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual’s right to own a gun until 2008, when the District of Columbia v. Heller struck down the capital’s law, effectively banning handguns in the home (Waldman). In this landmark case, the Supreme Court of the United States held, in a 5–4 decision, “…that the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense ...” And herein lies the NRA’s constitutional blanket of approval for private gun ownership.

The Second Amendment has been tossed around like a Frisbee at a park, and its meaning bears little consensus among gun-owners and anti-gun-owners alike. However, according to Hanna Levintova, “…most judges and scholars who debate the amendment’s awkwardly worded and oddly punctuated 27 words in the decades before Heller almost always arrived at the opposite conclusion, finding that the amendment protects gun ownership for purposes of military duty and collective security. The amendment was drafted in the first years of post-colonial America, an era of scrappy citizen militias where the idea of a standing army—like that of the just-expelled British—evoked deep mistrust”.

“[The] weapons of today that are easily accessible are vastly different than anything that existed in 1791. When the Second Amendment was written, the Founders didn't have to weigh the risks of one man killing 49 and injuring 53 all by himself. Now we do, and the risk-benefit analysis of 1791 is flatly irrelevant to the risk-benefit analysis of today” (David S. Cohen).

Politicians, Be Wary of Public Sentiment

A day after the massacre, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said, “If someone has decided ‘I'm going to commit this crime,’ they will find a way to get the gun to do it.” A nice detour for Rubio instead of openly conceding that the National Rifle Association spent $3.2 million in campaign spending on the Florida senator’s 2016 re-election campaign; thereby, making it legal for a troubled 18-year-old Nikolas Cruz to get his hands on an assault weapon in the State of Florida.

Chicago Tribune reporter, Rex Hupke, states, “So we’re led to accept that a school shooter like the one in South Florida was going to get his hands on a gun as lethal as an AR-15 no matter what. There’s nothing Rubio or any gun law could have done to help. Are you sure about that, Sen. Rubio? … Are you absolutely sure?

Igor Volsky, director of the gun control advocacy group Guns Down, tells us that calling out members of Congress on their gun lobby funding can have a powerful effect on members of the public, who are growing increasingly angry at the failure to pass stricter gun control legislation. Public opinion tends to reign supreme in a Democracy. Abraham Lincoln, while debating slavery, said in 1858, “Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it, nothing can succeed. Consequently he who molds public sentiment goes deeper than he who enacts statutes or pronounces decisions.” The triumph of gun rights reminds us today: If you want to win in the court of law, first win in the court of public opinion (Politico).

Once public sentiment overwhelms the three branches of government with shouts from sea to shiny sea over the use of military style weapons being sold to teens, over the use of these weapons being used in rampage shootings; and over the blood money being funneled by the NRA to buy politicians, then the court of public opinion might put an end to this reign of terror.


This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.


The Logician from then to now on on March 12, 2018:

You're welcome, anytime.

Linda J Johnson on March 12, 2018:

thank you

The Logician from then to now on on March 12, 2018:

Yes if the point of view is based on fact and considers all the facts, I agree - if it doesn't explain to me how it can be the basis for critical thinking, other than recognizing it is a pointless point of view because it is baseless. Recognizing that is the result of critical thinking so you must have critical thinking to start with to recognize that. A baseless point of view does nothing to stimulate critical thinking.

What I find interesting is that you ignore everything of grave importance I said and don't answer my question to you "Did you know about the promise program?" and choose this as some sort of battle ground to defend. That tells me a lot.

Linda Joy Johnson (author) from Detroit, MI on March 12, 2018:

varying points-of-view does open the path to critical thinking----it appears you and I have different definitions of critical thinking---knowing the other person's view gives me a more critical eye into the conversation---as an educator I understand critical thinking from the science of pedagogy

The Logician from then to now on on March 12, 2018:

Linda it's nice to see you are open minded enough to entertain criticism and consider all the facts. However varying points of view do not make for critical thinking -

considering all the facts is what makes for critical thinking. Unless an opinion considers all the facts, it is worthless.

You might keep this in mind before launching a hub page solely based on your one sided opinion.

Mike shed the light upon the facts of this topic which should never have been overlooked, however Mike's facts beg the question why?

Why in the name of God would all the school and municipal authorities ignore all these serious warnings? The root of the problem lies, as usually it does, in liberal policies that are absurd (federal gov't paying authorities to not prosecute crime) and always result in unwanted (some would say wanted) consequences.

In this case the policy is the promise program (instituted by Obama and Holder, blessed be their names) which undoubtedly is the blame for the Florida school massacre (and not the NRA). Did you know about the promise program? I'll bet you did not. Here it is:


Linda Joy Johnson (author) from Detroit, MI on March 12, 2018:

thank you for all of your feedback---varying points-of-view on the same topic makes for critical thinking

A B Williams from Central Florida on March 12, 2018:

So many red flags completely ignored or disregarded by the Broward County Sheriff's office. The Broward County Sheriff's office is too busy playing at politics and political correctness, they've no time for things such as......Law Enforcement!

Yet another sad example of P.C. letting us all down, nothing whatsoever to do with the NRA.

Readmikenow on March 12, 2018:

Before anyone believes that government is the answer, I believe we should look at the massive failurs of government in the Florida school shooting.

*Two years prior to this happening Broward Sheriff’s Office was warned Cruz was threatening to do a school shooting. This information was forwarded to Scott Peterson, the school resource officer and nothing was done.

*Naples Daily News covered quite extensively how local authorities did not follow up on troubling signs that Cruz was mentally disturbed, to the point where invoking the Baker Act was a possibility. The law was passed in 2013, which states one could be prevented from buying a firearm or obtaining a concealed carry permit if they’re involuntarily committed at an approved facility for mental examination.

*As recently as January 2018, the FBI received a tip about Cruz and his "desire to kill people," but the information was never forwarded for investigation, the bureau confirmed Friday.

*Deputies from Broward County’s Sherriff Department visited Cruz’s home 39 times over a seven-year period, adding that the nature of the visit centered on that of a “mentally ill person.” They also received some 18 calls between 2007 and 2017, with neighbors warning police that Cruz was someone who “planned to shoot up the school.” Nothing was ever done (via Naples Daily News):

*Peterson was the officer who waited outside of the building and failed to engage Cruz on the day of the shooting. The hooting lasted six minutes; Peterson remained idle for four minutes. He has since resigned after video footage caught him doing nothing as the rampage occurred at the school. 


This is more than enough proof we can't look to government to do the right thing and provide protection. It's up to people to protect themselves.

Linda Joy Johnson (author) from Detroit, MI on March 12, 2018:

I love the freedom of the press and free speech. Don't you?

Jack Lee from Yorktown NY on March 12, 2018:

Linda, I agree with Brad. Blaming the NRA for these shootings is like blaming the AAA when a terrorist using a car or truck and drive through a crowd of people killing and maiming innocent lives.

It is not the guns that kill but the person using the guns. Just like a drunken driver is to blame for killing a motorist, not his car or the manufacturer of the vehicle.

The NRA promotes safe gun use and training and supports the 2nd Amendment. For those who does not understand the 2nd Amendment or the need for it in modern days, you need to study up on our Constitution and our history. You can read up a summary of this in my hub “American Civics 101” It is one of my most read article.

I have no problem with limiting gun access, background checks, waiting periods, mental fitness, and training requirements...however, it should not infringe on the rights of individual citizens to own guns.

The criminals will always have access to guns because they do not obey the law. It is not true more guns lead to more deaths or shootings. Some of the safest community have conceal and carry...while in Chicago, it is full of shootings and they have one of the toughest gun restriction laws.

Brad on March 07, 2018:

The NRA isn't the problem, and what have the last presidents and congresses done about gun control? Why didn't two Bush presidents, Carter, Clinton, and Obama do something.

Several of these mass shooting occurred on his watch.

Also, it was Cruz that did the killing and both the Broward Sheriff and the FBI had ample warning about his propensity to use a weapon.

And yes, Rubio is correct there are some many illegal guns in the US, if you have the money you can get what ever you want, just like illegal drugs.

Gun control is not the answer, no more than prohibition was for Alcohol. Even with a constitutional amendment, there was more drinking and crime during prohibition than there was before it.

There are already one hundred millions guns in America and even prohibiting guns entirely wouldn't stop gun deaths.

Another issue that escapes gun control people is that half of the gun deaths in the country every year are from suicide. Why isn't that a major political objective.

More people die from illegal drug use than from guns.

I did an article on it so I won't repeat it here. You can google the subject.

The question I have for you. Could the Sheriff and or the FBI been able to stop Cruz?

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