Who controls gun control: The NRA and the driving force behind change in gun policy

Rebecca Cutsinger, Writer

The NRA or National Rifle Association was created in 1871 and became politically active in 1934. In 1977, the NRA created a committee called the Political Action Committee, or the PAC, to channel funds to lawmakers in Washington that shared their vision on gun policy.

Since then, the BBC reports thatThe NRA spends about $250m per year, far more than all the country’s gun control advocacy groups put together.” It should be noted, however, that they do not use all of that money for lobbying Congress. The NRA funds large gun education programs and gun ranges across the county to promote responsible gun ownership. The NRA does, however, spend a decent amount of this money on legislators and their campaigns and, in turn, some suggest that this is effectively done to buy their vote on gun policy.

The New York Times compiled data that “includes money the NRA spends on behalf of candidates, in addition to money it gives directly to candidates.” They reported  that throughout John McCain’s career, the NRA has given about 7.7 million to him, with numbers ranging from 2.8 to 7.7 million to 10 other senators in Congress and numbers ranging from 137 thousand dollars to a little over 1 million dollars donated to members of  the House.. Though most of these recipients are republicans, the NRA also donates funds to democrats in who support their views or could be swayed in the direction of looser gun control. Democrats like Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Patrick Leahy of Vermont are some receptors of these donations.  

The NRA is very similar to another highly publicized and equally criticized lobbyist group,  Planned Parenthood, who help pass pro-choice legislation by contributing to left-leaning politicians. Using money to sway the government is not uncommon and done by hundreds of different lobbyist groups that influence Washington D.C..

Junior Zach Hastings thinks that “It is important that the NRA protects our gun rights because they protect law abiding citizens’ freedom under the Second Amendment. It is good that lobbyist groups like the NRA are allowed to use funds that sway votes because this is America and if you’re able to make enough money to lobby for what you believe in, then you should absolutely be able to use that money towards whatever cause you would like. People against gun rights can use just as much money against gun policy if they choose to do so, which makes it fair for both sides.”

The NRA states their main objective is to protect the second amendment, which is the right to bear arms. The NRA’s stance on gun legislation is  that stricter gun laws only prohibit law abiding citizens from having firearms, and that criminals will break these new possible laws like they break the current laws. The NRA came out with a statement on October 5 referencing the Las Vegas shooting stating that, “Banning guns from law-abiding Americans based on the criminal act of a madman will do nothing to prevent future attacks. This is a fact that has been proven time and again in countries across the world.  In Las Vegas, reports indicate that certain devices were used to modify the firearms involved.” These modifications include using a device called a “bump fire stock” which allows the shooter to hold the trigger down while firing multiple rounds, mimicking the action of an automatic weapon. This modification was originally made legal by the Obama administration because bump fire stocks were initially created for the disabled, making the gun more easily operable.

The NRA does not support the bump fire stock and never has since modifying this modification could lead to making a gun mimic a fully automatic feature. The NRA believes “that devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations.” Fully automatic guns have been illegal in the U.S. since the 1930’s and one needs very special licensing and must go through very extensive measures to obtain one legally. The shooter in the Las Vegas mass shooting modified a bump fire stock to mimic a fully automatic weapon. The NRA expresses throughout the article that though banning the bump stock could be legislation passed as a partial solution, the fact that criminals break the law will not change if there are more laws, arguing that making something illegal does not stop criminals from breaking the law.

When asked her opinion of the NRA and gun laws in America, senior Inez Asiama shares, “I can see both sides to the argument of gun control. People are entitled to their rights like my parents always taught me.  If pushing more gun control legislation will lessen the acts of meaningless violence in our nation, then it is essential we do so. While yes we do have rights in this country, it should not be at the cost of any human beings’ life. The  shootings of innocent people is enough to tell you, it needs to be more difficult to have access to a gun. The idea of the NRA (lobbying congress) is not terrible because they are protecting a right that they have and want to practice. Unfortunately the right that they are protecting is allowing for some people to have access to dangerous weaponry and use it for wrongdoing. That should not be the case. They (the NRA) need to put aside their wants in order to allow for legislation to be passed to create a safer America.”

The NRA has been active in legislation for decades and will continue to lobby against gun control and fight to protect the second amendment. As mass tragedy calls for change, the NRA stands firm on the fight against gun legislation. However, this is not enough for many Americans who see mass gun violence and high gun deaths splashed across the news almost every week.