By Gabriela Aguirre
Year after year, the United States has seen an increase in the amount of tragedies as a result of guns. Whether it be through mass shootings, local disputes, or mere accidents, it seems as though no matter how large the number of casualties, gun control legislation has not and will not be passed any time soon. Recently, it seems that more and more Americans and members of national legislative body have changed their views regarding gun control or stricter regulations. Some having once been pro-gun advocates now agree that gun control laws are necessary in our country – now more than ever. So why is it that even after the fourth largest mass shooting our country has seen in less than a mere five years, that these gun control laws have not been passed? The problem seems to be very deep rooted…
The National Rifle Association (NRA), an American non-profit organization which advocates for gun rights, plays a large roll in what bills, regarding gun control, pass in Congress. According to BBC News, “it opposes most proposals to strengthen firearm regulations, and it is behind efforts at both the federal and state levels to roll back many existing restrictions on gun ownership.” Founded in 1871, the NRA begun its political influence in 1934 by mailing households in the United States information about upcoming bills regarding firearms and gun control. It began to directly influence policies in 1977, when it formed its own Political Action Committee (PAC), which channels funds to legislators. In accordance with opensecrets.org, an organization that tracks the influence of money on United States politics and how that money affects policy and citizens’ lives, the NRA, in 2016, spent roughly $4 million on lobbying and direct contributions to United States politicians, as well as more than $50 million on political advocacy, including an estimated $30.3 million that helped elect Donald Trump. These factors have given the NRA a platform in Washington to become a political force that can “make or break even the strongest politicians.”
In 2007, a former NRA lobbyist, Richard Feldman, published an autobiography titled “Ricochet: Confessions of a Gun Lobbyist,” in which he describes in detail what the NRA really is, using his own experiences to inform the general public on what the organization was truly like when he was a member. He describes it, in his own words, as “a cynical, mercenary political cult.” The NRA, he stated, are not interested so much in defeating policies and people against them, but simply fighting them, since fighting and arguing help boost the membership and fundraising recruitment numbers.
During the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton, who endorsed stricter gun control for the United States, posed a threat to the NRA. A month before the November election, the NRA had donated roughly $21 million (which would later increase to $30.3 million) to Trump’s campaign, spending $9.6 million on various advertisements that spread a pro-Trump message to the public, while the rest of the majority, $12 million, was spent towards attacking Hillary Clinton and her policies. This is the largest amount of money the NRA has ever spent on an election in United States history, as it seemed to pose the biggest threat to their organization to date.
In our country, we have witnessed the amount of pain and anguish firearms can cause. Everyday, more and more Americans come to the realization that stricter gun laws are needed in order for our country to move forward. However, it is clear that simply wanting tougher regulations on gun control simply will not be enough. With an organization like the NRA lining the pocket of politicians, directly influencing important bills, and swaying voters, the United States cannot move forward with this extremely controversial and important issue. It is important that more and more citizens become informed of this inner-political corruption. We need to band together to take a step forward towards passing crucial laws that will protect all Americans – if not those who have already so tragically lost their lives at the hands of a firearm – then it must be done for the safety of future generations.