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Taking Shots at the Gun Lobby

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Taking Shots at the Gun Lobby

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Charleston, South Carolina; San Bernardino, California; Orlando, Florida; and now Las Vegas, Nevada. These sites were subject to some of the deadliest mass shootings known to man, all in the last 3 years. Time and time again, we send our thoughts and prayers, fly flags at half mast, and barely get into a discussion about gun legislation before discourse is shut down.

 

I don’t want to discuss which guns should be allowed and which should not. That topic has been exhausted. I want to examine why, in the name of all that is good and reasonable, the United States has not been able to pass any significant anti-gun legislation in the past ten years.

 

To start, let’s look at some case studies: Australia and the United Kingdom. These two countries, after the Port Arthur Massacre and the Hungerford and Dunblane Massacres respectively, took swift and decisive measures to prevent the widespread use of firearms. These reforms have resulted in a sharp decline of mass shootings and gun-related homicides. In fact, only ten lives have been claimed by mass shootings since Australia banned firearms in 1996, following the Port Arthur massacre.

 

Both Australia and the U.K. were able to pass significant anti-gun legislation because of a weakened gun lobby. The United States gun lobby – funded in large part by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and other political action committees (PACs) – has become too strong.

 

According to Opensecrets, a website that tracks legislative spending, in the 2015-16 election cycle the NRA was responsible for over $50 million in lobbying, campaign funding, and advertising. As a result, NRA-endorsed candidates continue to have disproportionate control over Congress.

 

Even before this extravagant spending in 2016, the gun lobby’s financial meddling was problematic. For example, in 2013, shortly after the Sandy Hook massacre, a bill was proposed to increase necessary background checks when buying guns. Polls showed that 90 percent of Americans favored this bill, but it failed because 46 senators filibustered the bill. 43 of these senators had previously received donations from the NRA. Recent Gallup polls have shown that 55 percent of Americans favor more strict purchasing laws for firearms, but with a Republican majority in Congress, it doesn’t look like changes in purchasing law are coming any time soon.

 

Another point to examine: NRA funding. Some comes from individual donations and membership fees, but CNN has reported that massive gun manufacturers such as Ruger, Browning, Smith & Wesson, and MidwayUSA have publicly admitted large donations to the NRA.

 

Gun rights activists like Fox News’ Tucker Carlson often accuse those who want to reform gun laws as wanting to “push a pre-existing agenda.” This argument, often used by NRA-endorsed pundits and congressmen, uses the excuse of “waiting to bury the dead” to push off the topic of gun control to a later date that never seems to come.

 

If we ever do start to talk about gun control, the topic of the Second Amendment as an inalienable right comes up. What most do not consider: wasn’t the Second Amendment created to protect the people against the tyranny of those with more power and money? When our founding fathers said that we can bear arms in a militia, was it not to protect our rights like fair and equal representation?

 

Tyranny is not some abstract and threatening force to justify the owning of weapons. It is what is happening right now, as a powerful gun lobby actively suppresses the will of the American people.

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