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NRA Flexes Muscle in Gun Control Fight

NRA Flexes Political Muscle in Gun Control Fighti
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December 21, 2012
The National Rifle Association (NRA), which promotes gun ownership and the constitutional American right to bear arms, is a powerful voice against gun control in the United States. It successfully opposed efforts to reinstate a ban on assault weapons which expired in 2004 and now faces a new challenge after the Connecticut school shootings. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.

NRA Flexes Political Muscle in Gun Control Fight

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Chris Simkins
— The National Rifle Association (NRA), which promotes gun ownership and the constitutional American right to bear arms, is a powerful voice against gun control in the United States.

On Friday, in response to last week's mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school, the NRA urged the government to put armed guards at all U.S. schools, rejecting renewed calls for stricter gun control laws.

With about four million paying members, the NRA is a major political force. The group has promoted gun ownership for more than 141 years.  

"The National Rifle Association is what we call a heavy hitter," says Kathy Kiely, managing editor of the Sunlight Foundation, a group that tracks political contributions made by the NRA. "They are powerful both because they have a wide membership base across the country and because they raise money and use it in politically savvy ways."

Through television ads and campaign contributions, analysts say the NRA spends millions of dollars every year to lobby members of Congress. It has successfully opposed efforts to reinstate a ban on assault weapons which expired in 2004.

The group is generous toward candidates who support its positions, and actively opposes those it sees as adversaries.

"Gun owners vote and its bad politics to be anti-Second Amendment [gun-ownership rights] in an election year," says Wayne LaPierre, NRA's outspoken executive vice president.

The NRA also gives grades to lawmakers who support its causes, which mmeans the NRA is often feared among politicians.

"They are feared because they can turn out the vote," says Kiely,"and they can turn out lots and lots of campaign contributions either to support a politician or oppose a politician."

This month's Connecticut school shooting, where 20 young children and six adults were killed by a man using an assault rifle, renewed the gun control debate.

It has also put the NRA on the defensive.

Now, some longtime allies of the gun lobby are calling on the NRA to work with Congress to enact sensible gun control laws.

"The NRA and other gun rights advocates groups, they are not wrong about everything in this issue," says Congressman John Yarmuth, a Democrat from Kentucky. "I don't believe they are wrong, but they have never been willing to participate in addressing reasonable approaches to gun violence. They've never been able to sit down at the table."

Even gun sellers question the NRA's ability to push back against calls for a ban on military-style assault weapons, and high-capacity ammunition magazines, similar to those used in the Connecticut killings.

"When you got 20 dead kids who are massacred it doesn't matter how much power the NRA has," says Andrew Raymond, a gun dealer in Maryland. "It is almost a foregone conclusion that we are going to see some sort of legislation that will severely restrict these guns."

The growing anger over senseless mass shootings may be a tipping point, perhaps altering the strength of the NRA's political power to fight back against stronger gun control laws.

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by: Bailiff
December 26, 2012 10:23 PM
Common sense dictates that a National Policy on firearm ownership be introduced without delay. Background checks and a National Database of all gun owners must be implemented, accompanied by a tamperproof ownership card bearing the owners details, photograph and fingerprint reference. Imperative that security at schools be reviewed on a National basis. Getting the Police to respond after an incident, cannot by any stretch of the imagination save lives, no matter how swift and proficient the response is. Armed marshalls and a good security system are necessary 24/7


by: Raleigh D Stout from: Greensboro NC
December 24, 2012 6:31 PM
The NRA has publicly contradicted itself and flip-flopped on policy statements given in recent news interviews. They oppose government controls but proposed a large government program to arm schools. And they proposed a national mental health registry but opposed its use in gun show firearm purchases. NRA is rapidly losing credibility and cannot stay on message for its own constituents.


by: Lorne from: Canada
December 24, 2012 2:06 PM
So the NRA figures putting guns in schools is the solution. Are you kidding me? The NRA is an outdated organization that can't see the forest for the trees. Assault weapons are made for one thing - killing people, nothing else. Americans seem to have forgotten their own history which doesn't suprise me because most Americans know far less about their own history then Canadians do about the US. Let me elaborate, your original Second Amendment was the product of a world in which a well-regulated militia stood as check against the danger of a professional standing army. That meant protecting your Country from aggressors not running around carrying concealed weapons and assault rifles and murdering school children. The NRA has lost touch with the Consitution of the USA and have perverted it (Second Amendment) into something it was never meant to be. I guess the only thing you (US) can hope for is that the next mass shooting involves family members of the NRA - maybe then they (NRA) will get it and something will change. As well, Americans say they are tired of their troops being killed overseas - more people die in a week in the US from guns then US military personnel die in a year overseas. Think about that next time you vote against gun control. Yes every Country has the right to protect themselves but having guns easily availble to any Anerican comes at what cost? The US has a military now, 250 when your consitution was writtenit didn't. Isn't it time for a change?


by: Lewis Lauren from: China
December 24, 2012 4:46 AM
Of course, the point is not the gun but the people who is holding the gun. Even if the gun got banned, there is plenty of other fatal stuff that can be abused by the bad guys. Why not spend some "debate" time thinking about the root cause of so many psychopaths? Plus, how are the US firearm manufacturers gonna survive if the gun got banned? Here comes another problem, unemployment.

In Response

by: Lewis Lauren from: China
December 28, 2012 8:11 PM
Yeah, I can not imagine what it would be like if that bastard had access to gun. They are just children, innocent children!!!
I agree with you. There is no way to guarantee the appropriate use of guns. Human are way too emotional and unpredictable. Maybe the ban of the firearms is the best solution.

In Response

by: Bebonizer Max from: New York
December 28, 2012 12:20 AM
Lauren, let me say this since you wrote from China: the same day that 20 children died in the US, a madman rampaged in a Chinese school too. He was wielding a machete and knives, and molested 26 children, cutting off fingers, ears, etc.
The two differences: a) all the Chinese children lived; b) the people in the school ganged up on him and took him down. Imagine the carnage, had he wielded a rifle, pistols, and a couple hundred bullets like the US guy...

The problem with gun control is that even if a law abiding citizen buys a gun, it may get stolen, or it may be used by their children, or even by them in a moment of anguish. The NRA President's son (David M. Keene; almost same name as the dad), who claimed he had a gun since he was seven, did 10 years in prison for shooting at another driver in a road rage incident and almost killing him. He was 21 at the time.

So my opinion is that people in general are too emotional and careless to own guns in such a scale as happens in the US. And if putting tough restrictions on ownership is against the constitution, maybe it's time to amend the amendment...

In Response

by: Raleigh from: Greensboro NC
December 25, 2012 12:39 PM
Good point about good guys going bad. Maybe we need a system in place to recheck those gun owners every few years to determine if they remain legally eligible to possess guns based on mental health, criminal background, or other pertinent factors.

In Response

by: Lewis Lauren from: China
December 24, 2012 8:21 PM
I know the "gun control" aims at preventing the transfer of the firearm from legal owners to bad guys, not totally banning it. But have you ever thought that some of the legal owners may turn into bad guys themselves?

In Response

by: Raleigh from: Greensboro NC
December 24, 2012 6:37 PM
There are other methods of killing people but the national concern is focusing on firearms used in mass shooting events. The gun remains the common denominator and while guns start out legally, they eventually get transferred to criminal use. We really need to prevent the transfer of guns from owners and manufacturers to criminals who use them to kill others.


by: Marshall
December 23, 2012 2:01 PM
Firearm identity type carry cards with owners details,photograph,fingerprint reference and
thumb print linked to a National Database should
be implemented nationwide and cross checked
against those prohibited from purchasing a
firearm. Gunlocks and safes should be compulsory
with every firearm purchase. Likewise purchase of
new gun barrels needs to be controlled to circumvent
illegal guns from falling into the wrong hands.


by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
December 23, 2012 3:07 AM
In 1868 with the beginning of Meigi era, using swards was banned and all Samurai were confiscated from them by government all around Japan. Is it impossible in America?


by: Annie Rachele Lanzillotto
December 23, 2012 1:01 AM
I do not want to live in a place with an UZI on every corner, outside every school, at every busstop. I grieve for Newton where some parents never saw their children again - just the closed caskets. I grieve the childrens' bodies torn apart by the engineered ammo. I am trying to embolden my faith. I want to believe that we can make change in the world to illuminate the insanity, not of a few humans here and there, but of the whole tail-chase of war, weaponry, and the relationship to flesh and soul. AMMO engineered to rip you apart. CLIPS to destroy dozens in minutes. Is deterrence all we can hope for in the 2000's? Managing the problem, minimizing the damage? Is there no solution? Must we accept that its too late? That too many weapons already exist? That it's too hard to turn back? To retrieve and destroy and dismantle assault weaponry? Or can we turn back? Can we detonate the bombs, defuse, and heal? Melt the guns and bullets? We are animals. The impulses to kill to rage will always be inside us. But now it's time to cap our own destructive capability. We need an emergency break. I know one thing. If there were guns in my family growing up; we'd all be dead. I thank God, my mother removed the "war souvenirs" my father brought home from battle in WWII; the Japanese swords he pulled on her in his fits of PTSD. I never want a gun near me. I've shot other's guns and rifles at ranges, at targets in the woods, fine. I can say I did it. Big deal. I like aiming well. I know it feels good to hit a target. But we must protect ourselves, by disarming. Perhaps it's a gamble ratio. I believe I'm more safe without guns in my family with our episodes of rage, than I would be to an outside intruder if I had a gun. Those are the odds. Life is so damn short, and solutions seem to take so long. Gandhi's hunger strike succeeded in the short term for the street violence to end. In the USA can there be a strong core to non-violence? The seeds must be there even if I can't see them. As for militia's and keeping the citizen's armed in case of tyranny, well if we didn't rise up against W when he stole the Presidential election, then what good are guns if our minds are so irresolute? Perhaps all that ammo has gone to our USA heads. Perhaps our minds need to be guns, need to be that focused, that strong, that aimed. Can we get there America? Can citizenry mean something? Can our outrage be effective and focused and on target? Then we won't need guns and walls and concertina wire and great walls. We can look each other in the eye again. We can look in the mirror again. We can steer this ship on course. What good are guns? Look what the government did to the Black Panthers in Philadelphia, dropped a bomb from a helicopter onto a house. What good are guns? All the assault rifles in all the hands of all the people, still let an election be robbed and a war started on false pretenses that killed so so many. What good are guns? Our second amendment rests on our resoluteness, and on our will, and our minds.


by: Mel
December 22, 2012 12:40 PM
The Port Arthur massacre on 28 April 1996 was a killing spree in which 35 people were killed and 23 were wounded in south-eastern Tasmania, Australia.
After this incident, guns were totally banned. Since that law was applied in 1996, the Australian nation is safe and there is no more free shooting.
The American politician should do something to protect their innocent citizens.

In Response

by: Craig from: Australia
December 27, 2012 10:00 AM
Mel, you need to check your facts. Guns are not banned in Australia, only certain types. There are plenty of guns still in Australia several million actually. We are not permited to own semi automatic rifles(not without special permits.) and have never been allowed to own fully automatic weapons, we have a 10 round limit hanguns.


by: david from: New Zealand
December 21, 2012 6:17 PM
There is plenty of evidence violence in society increases with inequality, which is happening in America. People start to use guns for the wrong reasons, to boost their shattered egos, to feel powerful.

Reduce the inequality people and guns become less dangerous.

In Response

by: Claire from: Canada
December 22, 2012 12:33 AM
There is a long history of inequality in the USA. How about just making sure folks can't get their paws on assault weapons!


by: Sidney G, McLean from: Trumbull County,Warren,Oh
December 21, 2012 4:25 PM
I am a retired Policeman,concealed carry Instructor,I also teach at Kent State Police Acaademy.First of all teacher,Instructor, and Collage Students should have a concealed carry permit,Next stop the sale of vest to every-one but Police and Military,Next if a person has a assault weapon on the street make it a Federal Crime and 10 years in prison.Next have all Doctors report people with a mental proble to a National Comuter. There was no reason 32 students had to dye at ViginaTech if students had a concealed carry permit.

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