Using the second amendment as its shield, the National Rifle Association (NRA) has become a sad shell of its former self.
From the founding of the organization in 1871 to the early 1970s, they were heavily regarded as an honorable coalition. By the mid 1970s, they became immersed in turmoil when outside factions revolted against the high ranking officials and took over the organization. Their focus drastically switched from conservation, marksmanship and hunting to political mobilization and protecting second amendment rights.
Former notorious leaders Harlon Carter and Neal Knox formulated a strategy to expand their organization's membership and develop strong allies with numerous representatives within the Republican Party. Knox assiduously worked to undermine the strength of the Gun Control Act of 1968 and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). They made their legislative breakthrough in 1986 when the Volker-McClure Act was passed by Congress. During this juncture, the NRA's membership increased to 3 million members.
Despite their successes, there was bitter divisiveness between members and the leadership. It became a revolving door for several executives, but in 1991, at their national convention, Wayne LaPierre became their executive vice president. As a former staff lobbyist for the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA), LaPierre was familiar with the inner workings of the government. The Institute for Legislative Action is the lobbying arm for the NRA. By the mid 1990s, the organization had become an influential force with an obscene amount of power in Washington, D.C.
The topic of gun control rose to the forefront of the nation's conscience due to the plethora of deaths from incessant gun violence recently. President Obama and then presidential candidate Governor Mitt Romney refused to take on questions regarding gun reform measures during the 2012 presidential campaign. The Trayvon Martin tragedy among others reintroduced the public to the NRA because of their steadfast defense in favor of the Stand Your Ground laws in various states across the nation. But one incident left the organization eerily quiet.
On December 14, 2012, Sandy Hook Elementary School was the site to one of the most gruesome mass-murders in U.S. history. A deranged gunman killed 20 innocent children and 7 adults including his own mother. One week after the tragedy, NRA Vice President Wayne LaPierre finally held an infamous press conference where he blamed everything under the sun except for his own organization's destructive practices. Since that moment, the NRA's outright defiance has been a spectacle for the world to see.
Their asinine solution to the problem of school shootings has been to arm faculty members and tell communities to have a rotating force of armed policemen at individual schools. They refuse to address the realities facing their organization and the nation as it pertains to guns and gun ownership. Their latest missteps have been creating a video game where kids as young as the age of four can shoot guns and crafting a commercial featuring President Obama's daughters referencing how they have armed guards with them at all times.
There have been 61 mass-murders at schools since Columbine High School in 1999. The issues of war weaponry being available for public consumption, high capacity magazine clips, and background checks for gun purchasers have been at the forefront of the national conversation surrounding gun reform. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) as well as President Obama and Vice President Biden have expressed their urgency in compiling comprehensive legislation around gun reform in the nation. Some congressional members have introduced the idea of reenacting the Federal Assault Weapons Ban (AWB) that expired under President Bush in 2004.
Retired General Stanley McChrystal during a conversation on the MSNBC morning program Morning Joe stated, "I personally don't think there's any need for that kind of weaponry on the streets and particularly around the schools in America. I believe that we've got to take a serious look -- I understand everybody's desire to have whatever they want -- but we have to protect our children and our police and we have to protect our population. And I think we have to take a very mature look at that." This same sentiment is shared by the majority of the nation, but the NRA is sticking to their guns.
President Obama dispatched Vice President Biden to assemble a taskforce to develop gun control proposals. Vice President Biden and his collaborators returned yesterday with a set of proposals to legislate gun control policy. Some are calling it the most sweeping gun control policy in a generation. Now it is on Congress to proceed in the right direction to ensure these measures become the law of the land. At this point, it may be easier said than done.
GOP and Democratic congressmen, congresswomen and senators are quite reluctant to even welcome the notion of gun control because they're worried about losing their seats in Congress. Their inaction could have disastrous ramifications in the present and future if they continue putting our children and adults at risk on a daily basis. Every day that passes, more people are dying in cities like Chicago, Detroit, Oakland among others due to gun violence.
It is time to act now.
There are over four million members in the NRA today. They've been successful in brainwashing some of their members through foolhardy rhetoric and propaganda. As a result, gun sales have exponentially soared throughout the nation.
Memo to the NRA leadership: If you're the civil rights organization that you claim you are, stop defending the indefensible before more innocent lives are taken.