September 25, 2018

What the NRA has done since Parkland

Caroline Harding '20, Business Editor

NRA Spokesperson Dana Loesch. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) was founded in 1871. It is a nonprofit organization that advocates for gun rights. The NRA informs its members about gun related bills and has lobbied for and against gun-related legislation since 1975.

Following the Parkland shooting, the American National Rifle Association (NRA) has risen as a controversial confounding factor in the gun violence debate. According to the Los Angeles Times, in the 2016 election cycle, Democrats received only $265 of independent expenditures totaling $252.6 million from the NRA, the majority of which went to the Republican Party through direct and indirect means. Many people believe that this funding creates bias in Washington and leads senators to take a conservative view on guns in America.

Those defending the NRA include Marco Rubio (R-FL), who openly receives donations from the NRA. When asked if he would stop accepting funding from the NRA, Rubio stated “There’s money on both sides of every issue in America,” followed by “I will always accept the help of anyone who agrees with my agenda.”

NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre disparaged the Democratic Party, saying that the party is “now infested with saboteurs, who don’t believe in capitalism, don’t believe in the Constitution, don’t believe in our freedom, and don’t believe in America as we know it.”

Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), an open critic of the NRA, responded to LaPierre’s comment on Twitter, saying “You know what scares Wayne LaPierre? That people will lift their voices and demand action. That his name-calling and bullying won’t work anymore. I’m going to fight the NRA at every turn until we have sensible gun policies that keep our country sage. If Wayne LaPierre thinks we’re terrifying, he ain’t seen nothing yet.”

After the school shooting in Parkland FL where the shooter legally obtained an AR-15 rifle and shot and killed 17 students, President Trump suggested more teachers be armed with guns to protect against school shootings. This plan was backed by the NRA but remains extremely controversial. Many teachers have spoken out against this and Democrats continue to fiercely oppose this.

The NRA strongly believes that the school shootings, especially in Parkland are the result of a mental illness problem, not a gun problem. President Trump and most Republican senators seem to agree. President Trump spoke about mental illness in connection with Parkland when he said, “We’re going to have to start talking about mental institutions. You used to be able to bring him into an mental institution, and hopefully he gets help or whatever, but he’s off the streets.”

Democrats argue that although the Parkland shooter may have been mentally ill, mental illness is not the only or the biggest issue. Chris Murphy (D-Conn) said “Improving mental health treatment will help a lot of people and it’s the right thing to do. But the U.S. has the highest rates of gun deaths – not because Americans have higher rates of mental illness than the rest of the world, but because it’s so easy for people to get their hands on deadly weapons.”

According to Everytown For Gun Safeties study, most mass shooters are not mentally ill and looking at a person’s criminal background and history of domestic violence are usually a better focus than mental illness.

The Democrats also pointed out that the Trump administration’s 2018 federal budget includes a 26% cut to community health services, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and states across the nation have responded by slashing their allocations to community based mental health service providers because of these cuts.

The NRA also blames the liberals and the media. Spokeswoman for the NRA, Dana Loesch encourages NRA supporters to turn against reporters, saying “many in the legacy media love mass shootings” because “crying white mothers are ratings gold” The media has denied this accusation.

One instance where the NRA made its presence felt was over the dispute over the age of gun ownership. Many politicians, especially Democrats, are pushing to have the age where one can buy a gun raised from 18 to 21. The NRA opposes this legislation, as shown by NRA Public Affairs Director Jennifer Baker.

“Federal Law prohibits adults under the age of 21 from purchasing a handgun from a licensed firearm dealer. Legislative proposals that prevent law-abiding adults aged 18-20 years old from acquiring rifles and shotguns effectively prohibits them for purchasing any firearm, thus depriving them of their constitutional right to self-protection.” Baker said.

“We need serious proposals to prevent violent criminals and the dangerously mentally ill from acquiring firearms. Passing a law that makes it illegal for a 20 year-old to purchase a shotgun for hunting or an adult single mother from purchasing the most effective self-defense rifle on the market punishes law-abiding citizens for the evil acts of criminals,” she said.

On Wednesday, March 14th there was a nationwide walkout by students to protest gun violence and advocate for stricter gun laws. The walkout was 17 minutes long as a tribute to the 17 students who were shot and killed at the Parkland School Shooting. The walkout lasted from 10:00 to 10:17. One minute into the walkout, the NRA tweeted a picture of an AR-15 rifle, the weapon that was used to kill the students at Parkland, with the caption “I’ll control my own guns, thank you.”

Even though the NRA only has 5 million members, they stay one of the most influential lobbyist organizations in Washington with their donation and ratings to US senators and other influential people in the government. The NRA’s influence in the government brings up discussion of potential bias against gun reform laws within the government.What the NRA has done since Parkland

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