It seems to me that the National Rifle Association is the weapon and munitions manufacturer’s major lobby in the United States. Many of their chief executives are on the NRA’s Board of Trustees and these corporations are the major contributors to the NRA.
The association, founded in 1871, claims to be an American nonprofit organization that promotes firearm ownership and safety. Its yearly budget is 231 million dollars. The NRA’s political activity is based on the premise that firearm ownership is a natural right as well as a civil right protected by the Second Amendment of the Constitution. They have nearly a century long record of influencing or lobbying for or against proposed firearm legislation on behalf of its members. The NRA is seen as one of the top three most influential lobbying groups in Washington.
The Association claims to speak for its more than five million members but, in fact, its actions are really called by a small group of seventy-six members of its Board of Directors. The majority of the Board are nominated by a top down process and elected by a small fraction of the NRA members. Eighty-seven percent of the organization’s membership is men. Ninety-three percent of them are white.
Among the Board members most, if not all, the major weapon and munitions producers are represented. There is the woman who helped craft and implement Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, which served as a model for similar legislation in other states. We find the founder and publisher of the “Soldier of Fortune” magazine, who, interestingly, was sued in the late “80s for running want ads for mercenaries and guns for hire. There is the former Idaho senator who sponsored a bill protecting gun manufacturers from liability in connection with their products being used by criminals, which is similar to poison gas manufacturers not being responsible for the use of their products. These ate only a few of the seventy-six Board members.
As a sort of footnote: when James Madison wrote what is now the Second Amendment to the Constitution in the early days of our nation, weapons were muskets and single shot smooth-bore pistols. The rifle was just coming into existence. Madison had a problem. There was no organized military at the time but all adult males belonged to the National Guard and could be called upon to serve in any emergency. The state governments did not have armories; each man had his own musket to be used in these situations. The problem was to provide an armed force in times of crisis. The right to own weapons had always existed and was understood. Madison wrote the Amendment as a run-on sentence with two objects: one was the need for a national guard in times of emergency and the other was the right to own weapons. Which of these was his primary object? It can be argued either way.
Remember also that weapons were a lot simpler then. There were no automatic rifles that could shoot well over 100 rounds a minute or magazines that could hold 15. 30. to 100 rounds for pistols or semi automatic rifles. There were no lasers that could increase accuracy. A man then, if he went berserk, could do damage; but a man now, if he goes berserk, can create mass mayhem, such as in Newtown, Connecticut or in the Washington, D.C. naval yard.
There are positive things that the NRA does such as firearm safety, marksmanship training, and hunting and self-defense training; but why have they become paranoid on the subject of gun ownership? Why do they see every move or non-move by the Federal Government as an attempt to take weapons away from U. S. citizens?
In 2008, shortly after Barak Obama was elected President the NRA announced that he planned to take people’s guns away from them; in 2012, after President Obama’s reelection they announced that the fact he did not attempt to take guns away from people during his first term was proof that he would do this during his second term. The logic of this thinking escapes me!
After the Newtown Tragedy there was a movement to require that all weapons purchased be registered. In over the counter sales of firearms the weapons are registered to their prospective owners after a five to ten minute government check on the purchaser. This is not done in gun shows where anyone can buy a gun and walk away without any check of any sort. Convicted felons and unstable individuals can easily acquire all sorts of firearms at these shows. Is the NRA now representing convicted felons and other similar undesirables? Or are they just afraid of any legal measure that has to do with firearms?
We now come to an interesting question: Is the goal of the NRA so focused on selling more weapons and munitions that it doesn’t care who buys and uses them? If this is so then the NRA has become an organization that supports criminals and societal misfits. The have become a group that sponsors, under the guise of selling more weapons and munitions, mayhem and death, placing profit, the dollar, above human lives.
In many states, where the Republicans have control of the government, Stand Your Ground laws, based upon the Florida model, have been passed and also legislation allowing more and more people to carry concealed weapons. There have been innumerable Stand Your Ground shootings. The George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin case being only one of them. The sales of firearms and ammunition have increased expedientially. The profits for the manufacturers have also increased phenomenally.
Interestingly the State of Iowa recently passed a law that allows virtually anyone to apply for a permit to carry a concealed weapon. This includes people who are legally blind. They cannot get a driver’s license but at least three of them have gotten gun permits and now carry weapons.
If one looks up the sale of guns and munitions on the Internet that person finds all sorts of information.
Used weapons, both pistols and automatic and semi automatic go for about $400 to $1,000
New automatic and semi automatic rifles cost from $1,500 to $2,000
AK-47 assault rifles are from $200 to $800
Pistols range from $250 to $969
Remington box of shells $28.26 to $64.64
50 rounds for a pistol is in the area of $19
20 rounds .32 s&w long $19.75 box
20 & 50 round boxes $23, $24
Bulk Rifle Ammunition
500 to 3,000 rounds $40 to $510
100 round drum $266
30 round clip (pistol) $26
15 round clip (glock) $36, $40
If we consider the cost of ammunition and target practice, particularly with an automatic weapon, then the amount could easily reach hundreds if not a thousand dollars a session. The profit in ammunition would be greater than the cost of the weapons.
What is the primary purpose of the NRA? Originally it had been to serve its members. Now it seems to be one of the leading spokesmen for the weapon industry, using its tax free contributions for its lobbying efforts, both on the Federal and state levels.
Not too many years ago the NRA supported background checks for anyone buying a firearm. Now it sees background checks or any other gun safety measure that would protect the public as the first step in a move to take guns away from everyone. Its position seems to be that the government is the enemy and that its mission is to protect gun owners from the Federal Government. This is the road to madness and chaos!
Somehow the NRA has to be brought back to the point where it positively serves its members and the general public and not the weapons industry. Returning or giving organizations power to its members by direct election can do this.