RSN Fundraising Banner
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment

Bandler writes: "The NRA's rejection of virtually all gun-safety proposals is not only a repudiation of common sense but a bare-knuckle assertion of right-wing power, money and propaganda over the desire of most Americans to better protect themselves and their kids from guns."

Bandler writes that the NRA has corrupted our political system. (photo:
Bandler writes that the NRA has corrupted our political system. (photo:

The NRA's War on America

By Beverly Bandler, Consortium News

06 March 13


he issue of the NRA vs. America is not only about the nation's horrific gun violence epidemic. Americans have to decide whether the National Rifle Association and the gun industry should continue to corrupt our political system - whether the NRA with an estimated 3 million members and a management dominated by firearms manufacturers should control politicians and determine public policy for 315 million.

Or as New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said, "The NRA is only powerful if you and I let them be powerful."

The NRA has morphed from a group that represented ordinary gun owners into a front group for the firearms industry, whose profits are increasingly dependent on the sale of military-bred weapons like assault rifles.

Today's NRA also stands astride some of the ugliest currents in our politics, combing the "Astroturf" activism of the Tea Party, the unlimited and undisclosed "dark money" of groups like Crossroads GPS, and the sham legislating of groups like the American Legislative Council.

Wayne LaPierre, the NRA's executive vice president, is in the business of selling the American public a "Hellish World" in order to frighten them into buying into the idea that their survival requires them to buy more guns, join the NRA and organize opposition to gun control measures. The NRA has been called a "cynical, mercenary political cult" by a former employee.

And the extremism is escalating. In May 1999, LaPierre said, "We believe in absolutely gun-free, zero-tolerance, totally safe schools. That means no guns in America's schools, period." However, in December 2012, after 20 first-graders in Newtown, Connecticut, were murdered by a gunman wielding a semi-automatic assault rifle, LaPierre said, "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." He proposed that armed, NRA-trained vigilantes patrol each of the nation's nearly 100,000 public schools, discarding the gun-free zones he once championed.

But the NRA is not only out of touch with mainstream America's desire for common-sense gun laws; it is also out of touch with its own members. NRA members are much more sensible about gun safety than the management of the non-democratic, top-down, hierarchical NRA.

A May 2012 poll revealed moderation: three out of four NRA members believed that background checks should be completed before every gun purchase. Nearly two-thirds supported a requirement that gun owners alert police when their firearms are lost or stolen.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-New York, noted that it is just the intensity of the NRA leadership's extremism that intimidates politicians: "It only takes political courage because the NRA makes people toe the line against the majority view of the country. It's time the majority stood up and said enough already. And the majority should have a motive because any of us could be a victim tomorrow."

But the gap between the public's desire for gun sanity and the NRA's insistence on gun madness is best explained by following the money. NRA's corporate patrons include 22 firearms manufacturers, 12 of which are makers of assault weapons with household names like Beretta and Ruger. Donors from the industry and other dark reaches of the corporate world have funneled some $52 million to the NRA in recent years.

LaPierre serves at the pleasure of a 76-member board that is stocked with industry brass, and which is all but self-perpetuating. Only one-third of the board's membership is up for re-election in any given year. Voting is limited to the NRA's honored "lifetime" members and to dues-payers with at least five consecutive years of being in good standing. One of the NRA's 10-member nominating committee is the CEO of Freedom Group which manufactures the Bushmaster semiautomatic that Adam Lanza used to slaughter the 20 children and six teachers in Newtown.

The NRA's political contributions totaled $2,850,033 between 2003 and 2012, 74 percent of which went to Republicans, according to Follow the In the 2012 political races, the total percentage of contributions that went to the GOP: 88 percent.

The NRA's traditional, regulated PAC is as strong as ever. It spent $16.6 million in national political races in 2012. It was joined by a newly empowered NRAILA, which kicked in an additional $7.4 million from undisclosed sources, making the NRA the eighth-largest dark-money group in the country. [Primary Source: Tim Dickinson: "The NRA vs. America," RollingStone.

The consequences of the NRA's long-running assault on gun-safety laws have been devastating to American citizens. "Since 1968, more Americans have died from gunfire than died in all the wars of the nation's history: 1.2 million died in wars (from the Revolutionary War though the Iraq War); 1.4 million died in firearm deaths," according to Politifact.

Author Tom Diaz has written that "In the four decades between 1969 and 2009, a total of 5,586 people were killed in terrorist attacks against the United States or its interests.… By comparison, more than 30,000 people were killed by guns in the United States every single year between 1986 and 2010, with the exception of the four years in which the number of deaths fell slightly below 30,000-1999, 2000, 2001, and 2004.

"In other words, the number of people killed every year in the United States by guns is about five times the grand total of Americans killed in terrorist attacks anywhere in the world since 1969."

But this death toll is of little concern to the NRA. It uses inflamed rhetoric about protecting America's "freedom" and "civil rights," but its real purpose is the selling of more and more guns and the expansion of the corporate power of the multi-billion-dollar gun industry.

"The NRA wins because Americans lose focus," writes Tim Dickinson.

So, the only way to counter the NRA's power is for American citizens to stay focused, committed and consistent, and to understand that this issue is not only about gun violence. It is also part of the struggle between America and right-wing extremism.

Beverly Bandler's public affairs career spans some 40 years. Her credentials include serving as president of the state-level League of Women Voters of the Virgin Islands and extensive public education efforts in the Washington, D.C. area for 16 years. She writes from Mexico.

In the News: "The Showdown Over Gun Laws From Coast to Coast" by Gavin Aronsen, Mother Jones, 2012-03-01.

See also Mother Jones's special report "America Under the Gun."


How Many People Have been killed by guns since Newtown? 2,396 or more since Newtown as of March 1, 2013.
A Snapshot of State Gun laws. Washington Post.
11 Facts About the NRA. Washington Post.
Gun Control Facts By James D. Agresti and Reid K. Smith. Just Facts, September 13, 2010. Revised 2/11/13.
Follow the
Open Center for Responsive Politics.

Suggested Reading:

Achenbach, Joel, Scott Higham and Sari Horwitz. "How NRA's true believers converted a marksmanship group into a mighty gun lobby." The Washington Post, 2013-01-12.
Diaz, Tom. The Last Gun. The Last Gun: Changes in the Gun Industry Are Killing Americans and What It Will Take to Stop It. The New Press, (March 26, 2013).
Dickinson, Tim.  "The NRA vs. America." How the country's biggest gun-rights group thwarts regulation and helps put military-grade weapons in the hands of killers. Rolling Stone, 2013-01-31.
Feldman, Richard. Ricochet: Confessions of a Gun Lobbyist. John Wiley & Sons; 1 edition (October 26, 2007).
Follow the Money.
Harkinson, Josh. "Does the NRA Really Have 4 Million Members?" MotherJones, 2013-01-14.
Hsieh, Steven.  "Meet the NRA's Top 10 Enemies." 1. Doctors, 2. Poets, 3. Women, 4. 90s Boy Bands, 5. Greeting Card Companies, 6. Churches, 7. Pro Football Teams, 8. Actors, 9. CEOs, 10.Interior Designers. Alternet, 2013-02-01.
Hickey, Walter. "How the NRA Became the Most Powerful Special Interest in Washington." BusinessInsider, 2012-12-18.
Kessler, Glenn. "Does the NRA really have more than 4.5 million members?"  Washington Post, 2013-02-08.
Lepore, Jill. "Battleground America." One nation, under the gun." New Yorker, 2012-04-23.
Moyers, Bill and Michael Winship. "The Madness of the NRA." ConsortiumNews, 2013-01-06.
Perlstein, Rick.  "How the NRA Became an Organization for Aspiring Vigilantes." (Part 1). The Nation, 2013-01-09
Perlstein, Rick. "How the NRA Became an Organization for Vigilantes (Part 2). The Nation, 2013-01-10. 2013-01-18.
Reeve, Elspeth. "The Executive Order the NRA Should Fear the Most." Atlantic Wire, 2015-01-14.
Rosenfeld, Steven. "How the NRA Went From Best Friend of the Nation's Police to Harsh Enemy of Law Enforcement." AlterNet, 2013-01-24.
Rosenfeld, Steven. "The NRA once supported gun control." It may seem hard to believe, but for decades the organization helped write federal laws restricting gun use. Salon, 2013-01-14.
Schecter, Cliff. "5 Issues That Divide Gun Owners and NRA Leadership." The NRA's membership agrees with most Americans that our gun laws should protect our families, not the financial interests of a clique of elites. Alternet, 2012-07-22.
Seitz-Wald, Alex. "The NRA won't support Arizona's new gun bill. A new Arizona bill is trying to make it a crime to enforce federal gun laws. Even the NRA wants no part of this. Salon, 2013-01-22.
_______"The Hitler gun control lie." Gun rights activists who cite the dictator as a reason against gun control have their history dangerously wrong. Salon, 2013-01-11.
_______"The NRA is the enabler of mass murders." In the wake of today's shootings, Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler says we need to wage "war" on the gun lobby. Salon, 2012-12-14.
_______"Why the NRA's plan won't work. Science and history show that the NRA's plan to flood schools with arms is ineffective-and would be disastrous. Salon, 2012-12-21.
_______ "The NRA's war on gun science." In addition to fighting gun laws, the gun lobby has spent the past 20 years fighting research into gun safety. Salon, 2012-07-25.
Smyth, Frank. "How the NRA became the fringe." MSNBC, 2013-01-28.
Stein, Sam and Paul Blumenthal. "Why the NRA Is the Baddest Force in Politics." The HuffingtonPost, 2012-12-17.
Sugarmann, John. National Rifle Association: Money, Firepower & Fear. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (April 19, 2010).
Violence Policy Center. Blood Money: How the Gun Industry Bankrolls the NRA. April 13, 2011.
Waldman, Paul. "Democratic Fear Inflates Myth of N.R.A. Power." New York Times, 2012-12-17.
Webster, Daniel. "N.R.A. Members Vs. N.R.A. Leaders." New York Times, 2012-12-17.
Weigel, David. "The Nightmare Vision of Wayne LaPierre." Slate, 2013-02-13.
_______ "The Nightmare Vision of Wayne LaPierre." Slate, 2013-02-13. the_nightmare_vision_of_wayne_lapierre.html
_______The NRA Is ‘Winning' The Gun Control Battle if It Loses, or Something.'" Slate, 2013-01-18.
_______ "How the NRA Defeats National Tragedies." First it scares people into thinking the government is coming for their guns. Then it quietly asks the public to pray for the victims of the next rampage. Slate, 2012-12-17.
Wilkie, Christina. Wayne LaPierre: "More Guns Needed For ‘Hellish World' Filled With Hurricanes, Kidnappers, Drug Gangs." The Huffington Post, 2013-02-13.
Americans for Responsible Solutions Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence Children's Defense Fund Coalition to Stop Gun Violence
The Joyce Foundation – Gun Violence Prevention League of Women Voters Legal Community Against Violence Mayors Against Illegal Guns National Gun Victims Action Council National Law Enforcement Partnership to Prevent Gun Violence One Million Moms for Gun Control This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Sandy Hook Promise Stop Handgun Violence Violence Policy Center your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+18 # Kayjay 2013-03-06 20:22
As this piece points out, the profiteers running the NRA, have become master manipulators, soley bent on stuffing their own pockets with blood money. They funnel millions towards creating puppet representatives in congress to do their bidding. And they shriek and blather about their right to "free speech," if anyone attempts to curb this obscene money flow. Since when did "free speech." become equated with$$$$ amounts? Our forefathers embraced free speech to mean, that citizens had the right to criticize their leaders without being tossed in the hoosegow, or having their head lopped off. The NRA has become the symbol of why we need campaign finance reform. Or just make ANY affilation with said NRA rats, political poison.
+6 # luvdoc 2013-03-07 00:42
The many thousands of 'collaterals,'s ome of whom include the 20 children crucified at Newtown died doesn't matter, they are dead. Had I the skills of an artist, I would paint twenty small crosses and place 20 sweet souls upon those crosses, each one looking to the the NRA and the politicians and adults who allowed their horrific deaths. They ask why.luvdoc
+4 # Sensible1 2013-03-07 05:33
The NRA continues to speak down to Americans, as if we are mindless uneducated human beings, while no one really believes that people and not guns are the problem. The NRA needs to upgrade their silly childish cliches to recognize that we the people have the rights, not the guns, and no one can reserve the right to being a good guy just because they have a gun in their hand; anyone with a gun is a threat to humankind.
+3 # cwbystache 2013-03-07 06:38
"[M]ainstream America" has "common-sense"? Are we talking about that mainstream America that enthusiasticall y embraced the call to war on Iraq? Wasn't it about a 70% approval rating, to blast Baghdad back to the Stone Age? I've seen a similar number referring to the population now clamoring for new gun laws and gun controls--can these possibly be the very same folks, and they've become weary of war and the practice of settling disputes by looking down a gun barrel?
+2 # peterjkraus 2013-03-07 08:13
"The consequences of the NRA's long-running assault on gun-safety laws have been devastating to American citizens. "Since 1968, more Americans have died from gunfire than died in all the wars of the nation's history: 1.2 million died in wars (from the Revolutionary War though the Iraq War); 1.4 million died in firearm deaths," according to Politifact." Which begs the question, why not 1.4 Million plua one?
-13 # randyjet 2013-03-07 08:31
This is silly. The fact is that we do not need protection from guns any more than we need protection from cars, knives, hammers, baseball bats etc. ALL of which have killed lots of people. Al Capone prefered baseball bats as his weapon of choice. The fact is that of the millions of rounds fired in the US, very few wind up being fired in a criminal manner. She also forgets to mention that over half those deaths attributed to firearms were suicides. Cops are especially prone to use their guns to kill themselves. Think that we need to take away cops guns?

While I hate the NRA, they DID make a valid point that only a good guy with a gun will stop a bad guy with one. If you doubt that, call the cops and insist that they use Ghandis book on non-violence instead of their weapons when confronting an armed crook. See what kind of a response you get.
+5 # Kootenay Coyote 2013-03-07 09:24
'Cars, knives, hammers, baseball bats &c' are made for transportation, cutting, buildigng & games. Guns are made solely to kill. Your point now being?
+2 # paradoctor 2013-03-07 10:48
The NRA is ostensibly the lobby for home defenders; it is in reality the lobby for gun-runners; and it is in effect the lobby for lunatics, criminals and traitors.

And randyjet; when was the last school hammer massacre?
-4 # MendoChuck 2013-03-07 12:06
What is amazing to me is how many folks that are reading this web site and making comments actually believe what they are reading.

I constantly read how the Main Stream Media is full of it!
Yet all of a sudden the MSM is so right on when they pull the emotional strings instead of serious and real individual facts.

When I find the posting of cherry picked, lumped together, artificial information repeated and posted and then repeated by folks who supposedly are here to get REAL information I realize are far we have to go in order to survive as a species.

Really folks . . . . Please do your own research from the varied and many resources available to you on the net before you post something of which you lack any real knowledge.

This will help us all in the long run . . . .
0 # turbojesus 2013-03-08 12:24
Well, I think the administration has a hypocritical gun control policy, a double standard. They're attempting to remove assault type weapons from a more responsible civilian population while restoring them, for instance, to the Indonesian Army which carried out the largest genocide in the last century. Perhaps, a massacre of 200000 as opposed to 26 would have called for stricter regulations. I guess ensuring people with a 3rd grade sense of tragedy don't obtain a weapon is lot more important then attacking the roots and social institutions which propagate this behavior at the expense of everyone else's freedom.

THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.