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Over Easy – Guns and Money, or Part 4

This is the 4th post in an ongoing series. For Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3, click the corresponding hyperlinks.


National Rifle Headquarters in Virginia.

Good morning firedogs, and happy Tuesday. I hope everyone is well-rested and adjusted to the time change, and ready to dive back into the topic of gun control. Here’s how we left things –

Which brings me to the close of this post, and the introduction of next week’s topic – Next Tuesday we will examine the NRA

Ah, the NRA! We’re all very familiar with their exploits, right? We know well the rantings of Wayne LaPierre and Charlton Heston. We’ve also seen recently how the NRA has teamed up with ALEC to draft suggested legislation enacting ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws, among others.

How have these laws played out in America? Most of us have heard of the Trayvon Martin case. Our very own Masoninblue has done incredible diary work around the prosecution of George Zimmerman for Trayvon’s homicide. George Zimmerman has claimed self-defense as his justification for shooting and killing Trayvon, citing Florida’s Stand Your Ground law as cover for his actions.

Stand Your Ground laws are now in place in 23 states. Since their enactment, homicide rates in these states have increased significantly, by 7 to 9 percent. From NPR

We find that there are 500 to 700 more homicides per year across the 23 states as a result of the laws

So the NRA, through ALEC, seems to be responsible for laws that have resulted in 500 to 700 more homicides per year across about half of our states. I guess that’s the cost of defending the 2nd Amendment and promoting marksmanship.

I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I personally lay some blame for each of those deaths at the doorsteps of the NRA and ALEC.

The NRA sponsors legislation, in almost all cases, that increases or maintains accessibility to firearms and their accessories. So what is behind this? Is it a passionate belief in their interpretation of the 2nd Amendment? Is it an insane need to possess and use weapons? Available evidence would suggest ‘No’ is the appropriate answer to those two questions. It seems the simple answer is greed.

In its early days, the National Rifle Association was a grassroots social club that prided itself on independence from corporate influence.

Hey! Cool! Sounds like a lot of organizations that I support. But wait a minute…

today less than half of the NRA’s revenues come from program fees and membership dues.

Well, what does that mean exactly? More than half the NRA’s revenue is coming from another source, but how much of that is from corporate donors?

The NRA also made $20.9 million — about 10 percent of its revenue — from selling advertising to industry companies marketing products in its many publications in 2010, according to the IRS Form 990.

Additionally, some companies donate portions of sales directly to the NRA. Crimson Trace, which makes laser sights, donates 10 percent of each sale to the NRA. Taurus buys an NRA membership for everyone who buys one of their guns. Sturm Rugar gives $1 to the NRA for each gun sold, which amounts to millions. The NRA’s revenues are intrinsically linked to the success of the gun business.

The NRA Foundation also collects hundreds of thousands of dollars from the industry, which it then gives to local-level organizations for training and equipment purchases.

Or, in short

since 2005 contributions from gun industry “corporate partners” to the NRA total between $14.7 million and $38.9 million. Total donations to the NRA from all “corporate partners”–both gun industry and non-gun industry–for the same time period total between $19.8 million and $52.6 million. The vast majority of funds–74 percent–contributed to the NRA from “corporate partners” come from members of the firearms industry: companies involved in the manufacture or sale of firearms or shooting-related products.

It appears that the formation in 1975 of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA), which first began accepting corporate donations on behalf of the NRA, may have inspired the “Cincinnati Revolution”, where the existing NRA leadership was ousted at a national convention in 1977, and replaced by folks who were less concerned with marksmanship and shooting sports and more concerned with “2nd Amendment rights”.

The NRA had previously supported the National Firearms Act of 1934 and the Gun Control Act of 1968. Corporate donations started coming in via the NRA-ILA in 1975, leadership changed in 1977, and then

After 1977, the organization expanded its membership by focusing heavily on political issues and forming coalitions with conservative politicians, most of them Republicans. With a goal to weaken the Gun Control Act of 1968, Knox’s NRA successfully lobbied Congress to pass the McClure-Volker firearms decontrol bill of 1986 and worked to reduce the powers of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

I see. It would appear that corporate influence by way of money changed the way the NRA operated. The organization argued now not on behalf of shooters and enthusiasts, but on behalf of monied interests and gun manufacturers.

In my research, writing, and examination of this issue I have arrived at the personal belief that there are two main problems preventing the reduction of gun violence in this country. The first and foremost is the accessibility and availability of firearms in America. The NRA is largely responsible for this, fighting day in and day out to make gun ownership easier and more widespread.

It’s plain to see that the NRA does this for the profit of its partners, and not for the good of America.

The other main problem preventing the reduction of gun violence as I see it is the appalling lack of mental health care in this country, and the stigma placed on mental health problems that seems to keep those in need from seeking help. Mental health care always enters into the gun control conversation, and seems lately to be the main NRA talking point. It will also be the topic of next week’s post.

Dear reader, I thank you for coming this far. I promise you need only come a little further. After next week I will present my conclusions, paying homage to our dear departed friend Richard, who inspired the creation of Over Easy. He taught me many things, and in my exploration of gun control I found his lessons were not only relevant, but at the very core of the problem.

This is Over Easy. As always, off topic is welcome and even encouraged. Please feel free to discuss anything you’d like in the comments.

I’ll see you there!

Photo by Bjoertvedt released under a Creative Commons license.

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I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself. A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough without ever having felt sorry for itself.

-D.H. Lawrence