The National Rifle Association has scored one of its landmark victories with the recent enactment of laws allowing for the possession of loaded handguns into bars in four states, Tennessee, Arizona, Georgia, and Virginia.
This wouldn’t be so horrifying if it weren’t for common sense and the long-established two-way correlation between violent behavior and alcohol consumption, dating back as far as Albert Reiss and Jeffrey Roth’s Understanding and Preventing Violence published in 1994. How could something that makes so little sense possibly be acceptable to our well-read government officials? It’s simple: the power of the NRA and gun lobbyists.
Campaign cash and quid-pro-quo bill support are the weapons of NRA lobbyists to subvert the will of the American people. The fact that these organizations can offer to flood airwaves with advertisements for politicians, or use their political clout to get legislation tailored in their favor through the House and Senate, decreases politicians’ motivation to keep themselves in the good graces of the organization. These temptations are so great that politicians will often compromise their constituency.
In recent years, the NRA’s tactics have become even more underhanded. The New York Times reported that NRA lobbyists championed a seemingly benign bill, restricting credit card lenders, through Congress. However, this was just another way to further their agenda. A gun-related caveat allowing people to carry loaded firearms in national parks was attached in exchange for the NRA’s support. This is by no means an isolated incident. This year, the NRA threw their weight behind the controversial health care bill in exchange for a provision to ban insurance companies from charging more to gun owners.
These shenanigans go unnoticed by the American public, although I am sure we’re all in support of Senator Harry Reid’s desert shooting range in Nevada, made in a bid to appeal to the NRA, to the tune of 61 million federal dollars. But as long as NRA lobbyists have power to help bills get through Congress and campaign donations to fork over to the politicians who are scratching their backs the most, their voices will resonate louder than those of the people who the politicians have been put in place to represent.
Certainly, the Second Amendment is important to the American people and to their safety. But it’s safe to say that things are getting out of hand when the NRA is convincing lawmakers to pass up renewing the ban on assault weapons, which expired in 2004. What possible purpose could there be for any American to own an AK-47? Why should consumers have access to ammunition that can penetrate bulletproof vests?
The NRA has flexed their political muscles, showing that they have the power to bend our system of Democracy to reach their own ends. People must wake up to the threat that the NRA poses. Why should their agenda matter more than the needs and wants of a constituency that put an elected official in office? It shouldn’t. But politicians get away with favoring lobbyists and organizations like the NRA when that constituency isn’t aware of what’s going on.
It’s easy for anyone to write their local elected official and let them know they aren’t happy with the favoritism shown to lobbyists and that we, the constituents, have our own agenda. It’s even easier not to vote for spineless politicians who are afraid to confront the lobbyists that represent interests counter to those voters. But nobody can act if they don’t know. If the American people don’t become more aware of this impending threat, the legalization of the carrying of concealed firearms on college campuses might be the next bright idea of the NRA enacted into law.