Unpopular and probably incorrect opinion: I don’t blame the NRA for the state of gun law in this country.
I mean, yes, I blame them for these terrible slaughters to the extent that they have, over the last thirty years, actively popularized the sorts of guns that can shoot a lot of bullets in a short time. As I understand it, the market for those guns and bullets exists, in the form it does, in large part because of the NRA shifted its emphasis from encouraging sport shooting and hunting to, well, just guns. People such as Harlon Carter and Wayne LaPierre and Mark Chesnut and many others have serious responsibility for the firearm deaths and injuries in this country. I blame them.
When I say I don’t blame the NRA, I mean that I don’t particularly blame the NRA for the state of legislation. I know that a lot of money changes hands. I know there are campaigns that take that money and campaigns that don’t. But when people say that the NRA is bankrolling legislators, or that the NRA has legislators in its pocket, or that the congress is bought by the NRA, then what they are saying is that there are a bunch of legislators who would happily vote for gun control legislation, if it weren’t for that campaign finance check. And I just don’t see any evidence for that at all.
I believe that almost every legislator who votes against gun control legislation in this country genuinely believes that in voting that way, they are representing the will of their constituents, or even that they are protecting what they think of as the “first freedom” of gun ownership. I doubt that our Connecticut State Senators Joe Markley or Eric Berthel would change their preferred policies one iota if the NRA stopped assigning ratings or donating campaign funds. I do think that the primary voters in their districts would probably ditch them if they did change their minds about gun rights and controls, though.
Also—those lists of how much money the NRA has donated to the political campaigns of various legislators? When I read that, I don’t read that the legislators are being bribed. When I read those lists, I read that millions of people support the NRA enough to donate money to their political action arm. When that many people care that much about a topic, they can elect people who also care about that topic, and those people make the laws. Heck, the reason the NRA glorify these guns and this terrible violence is because millions of Americans want them to.
The reason we have lax gun laws is because of a combination of participatory self-government and a millions of people that want lax gun laws. Blaming the NRA lets those millions of people off the hook.
Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,