The NRA Is On The Ropes — Let’s Finish Them Off In 2020
I believe that the Parkland massacre of February 14, 2018 will forever be seen as a turning point in the gun debate in America. Before Parkland, the NRA a/k/a the gun lobby was in the ascendant and intimidated many politicians who supported common sense gun safety measures. The survivors of this mass slaughter put a human face on the tragedy and brought home to America the reality of gun violence.
The radical right and the gun lobby reacted to the Parkland survivors with rage. They alleged the surviving students were so-called “crisis actors” and were being manipulated by dark forces to push a so-called “liberal agenda.” Moreover, the survivors were even the victims of harsh personal attacks from right wing entertainers like the toxic Laura Ingraham. The radical right launched these vicious personal attacks because they correctly perceived that for the first time ever, the NRA was on the defensive.
The NRA responded to its decline in public support by going so far as to delete from its website the once coveted ratings it gave to members of Congress and Congressional candidates. It has now become a liability to receive an “A” grade from the gun lobby. Fortunately, intrepid bloggers took screen shots of the deleted grades. A gun lobby spokesman candidly admitted that the past grades were deleted because: “I think our enemies were using that.”
The decline in public support for the gun lobby also manifested itself in the NRA having severe financial problems for the first time in the organization’s history. In August, the NRA announced it was going broke and may soon “be unable to exist.” The NRA’s financial issues stem from problems obtaining liability insurance. That should come as no surprise since the NRA is responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans.
The gun lobby’s financial woes are further compounded by its legal problems. Earlier this year, it was revealed that the FBI has opened up an investigation as to whether Alexander Torshin — a Russian oligarch who is a Putin ally — illegally funneled money to the NRA to help Trump get elected in 2016.
During the 2016 cycle, the NRA spent what for them was a record $55 million, including approximately $30 million to promote the Trump campaign. In contrast, NRA spending plunged to $7.5 million during the 2018 cycle. As a matter of fact, gun safety groups out spent the gun lobby for the first time — spending $11 million to elect gun safety advocates.
Jennifer Duffy of the Cook Political Report contended that NRA spending was down because: “I think in a lot of places they have a popularity problem.” That should come as no surprise because a recent Washington Post expose’ indicated that more than 4 million school children have experienced a lock down during the last school year due to a genuine threat of gun violence.
According to the Washington Post: “The number of students affected eclipsed the populations of Maine, Rhode Island, Delaware and Vermont combined. But the total figure is likely much higher because many school districts — including in Detroit and Chicago — do not track them and hundreds never make the news, particularly when they happen at urban schools attended primarily by children of color.”
The children experiencing these lock downs are terrified. Students have texted farewell message to their loved ones and have even soiled themselves. According to the Washington Post, there was a lock down in Fremont earlier this year: “ In Fremont, Nebraska, students sobbed as they hid for nearly two hours in a girls’ locker room with the lights turned off after a teenager was spotted with a gun. When armed officers barged in, they ordered the kids to put their hands up.”
The NRA further compounded its image problem when the gun lobby attacked the doctors who have treated the victims of mass shootings in a failed and misguided attempt to silence them. One of the doctors who treated the victims of gun violence of the Las Vegas slaughter of October 1, 2017, recounted his experience as follows: “There was blood all over the floors and the gurneys, and there were patients that were holding pressure on their own wounds telling me to take care of the sicker patients,” Dr. John Fildes said. “It was like a scene from hell.” The gun lobby doesn’t want the public to become familiar with the carnage caused by its dangerous weapons.
The voters this year responded harshly to the NRA’s overweening arrogance and indifference to the slaughter of innocent Americans. At the polls in 2018, 60% of the voters supported stricter gun laws. This included 76% of those who don’t own a gun and even 42% of gun owners. Of the voters who identified guns as their top issue, 70% of them voted for the Democratic candidate in the House elections.
The House Democrats plan to follow up their big victory in the 2018 mid-terms by putting gun safety legislation near the top of their wish list. Shortly after Nancy Pelosi ends the Trump/GOP government shutdown, she will hold an up or down vote on legislation that would require a background check for every gun sale in the country. This bill will have overwhelming public support since polls indicate that up to 90% of Americans support background checks.
Obviously, McConnell won’t allow an up or down vote on background check legislation in the Senate. That means we have to win big again in 2020. Let’s dedicate ourselves to electing more Democrats in 2020. Trump will be unpopular and he will drag down the entire GOP ticket. This is our time. The gun lobby is on the ropes. Let’s finish them off in 2020!