The NRA: Not the Voice of Guns in America

David Keene, president of the National Rifle Association, conducts its annual meeting during its national convention in St. L
David Keene, president of the National Rifle Association, conducts its annual meeting during its national convention in St. Louis on Saturday, April 14, 2012. (AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Christian Gooden)

The simple truth is that the NRA does not represent America's gun owners, let alone the interests of non-gun owning Americans. They are an amazing public relations machine, endowed with a large budget from America's gun manufacturers -- but that is all they are, a very well endowed group seeking to stagnate America with out of date thinking, fear and money.

Arithmetic. Most estimates say between 39 percent and 50 percent of U.S. households have at least one gun. That represents about 43-55 million households. The estimates for the number of privately owned guns actually ranges from 190 million to 300 million. When we remove those estimates that skew the statistics for their own purposes the best estimates are that about 45 percent of American households own approximately 260 million guns.

Going one step further, according to the latest annual survey of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, about 13.7 million people went hunting in the U.S. in 2011. The rest I assume own guns for reasons of collecting and self protection.

Now bear with me because this is where it gets fun. According to Bloomberg, an NRA website boasts that it had about 4.3 million members in 2011. Using its own numbers it doesn't take a genius to figure out that the NRA only represents about 7 percent of gun owning households in the United States and only about 30 percent of the people who use guns for hunting.

So, while the NRA claims to be the voice of America's gun tradition, with their own numbers they are simply not.

The simple truth is the NRA is an extremely well funded organization that spends a LOT of money talking very loudly. Measured in dollars, in 2012, the NRA spent about $2,205,000 on lobbying. This is compared to the $180,000 spent on gun control lobbying. It is no surprise that the NRA is the largest gun rights lobbying organization in the United States. What is a surprise is how few moderate and fair thinking gun owners actually support their views.

Like any other political group backed by large corporations, they don't reflect the views of legitimate gun owners. They reflect the views of gun sellers and that is not American. That is what our forefathers ran away from when they left England. If you remember correctly, our forefathers created a Declaration of Independence because their voices were not heard over the political machine that was the Kind of England. Only this time the machine is the corporations that keep undermining a safe and peaceful society by putting weapons of mass destruction into the hands of killers with no controls, no safety mechanisms and no remorse.

According to a recent Washington Post article, "while most NRA members (54 percent) wanted to make gun laws less strict, only 25 percent of gun owners who were not NRA members felt this way. The plurality of them (45 percent) wanted no change; 25 percent even supported stricter laws."

This should really be of no surprise. There are dozens of anti-NRA gun groups who want realistic gun controls. They want children to be able to study without armed guards at every doorstep. They want more than a meaningful dialogue. They want to end the violence that is killing America, literally.

Let me be clear. I do not like guns. I do not think guns should be a part of any modern society. The number of gun deaths in America is mind boggling, especially when compared to other countries. My question is why is America even having a dialogue with a group who, by their own numbers, does not represent the very people they say they do, but corporate interests?

If we are to have a political discussion about one of the rights found in our constitution, shouldn't we speak with all interested Americans? Shouldn't our discussion include people, not just well funded corporate groups? People, in this case, being the 100 percent of Americans who are at risk from gun violence every year, as well as those who legitimately own guns. By my estimates, the simple truth is that would include approximately 100 percent of all Americans who want to live in a civilized nation, two-thirds of all hunters, as well as approximately 96 percent of gun owning households; none of whom belong to the NRA.