The NRA: Spinning Straw into Gold

Gun violence is a national health epidemic in this country. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) has asked and been refused funding for research for this national epidemic by the majority of Congress. Consider, for a moment that last statement. A national epidemic that kills over 30,000 Americans every year that the United States Congress (a considerable majority who are Republican) will not let the CDC research. In essence, what this government organization is designed to do, is to help eliminate a health hazard to this nation.

When you look closer this is not unexpected, sadly it is rather the unprecedented Machiavellian power of the NRA. Their power defined by the explanation of power, Machiavelli espoused to create independence. At this point in our history, the NRA has achieved a dynamism as an independent entity exempt from the will of many in this country who are adversely affected by their agenda and have no recourse to stop them.

In recent debates between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders vying for the democratic presidential nomination were asked about gun violence in America. Clinton spoke of the inequity of the NRA being immune to legal recourse. In a somewhat surprising response, Sanders replied that if the gun industry could be sued it would drive firearms manufacturer's out of business.

Apparently Sanders has forgotten that the tobacco industry, (who also created a health hazard by those who used their product and the people around them through second-hand smoke) were sued and still manage to sell cigarettes manufactured here in the U.S. and around the world.

In 1996, the CDC, which to this day receives no federal funding to study gun violence even after numerous mass shootings, including the slaughter of 20 children (twenty of the 28 people killed in total) in the Newtown massacre of 2012. This is due to a law the NRA succeeded in lobbying and virtually forcing Congress to pass in 1996 that prevents federal funding for this kind of the CDC study.

How is this possible? While the NRA manipulates the interpretation of the Second Amendment, the estimated revenue of gun and ammunition sales in America is over $6 billion a year and growing. The NRA is generously supported by these manufacturers and in return has built one of the most powerful lobbies in congress -- a lobby so strong that it holds every single person in congress to the strictest standard of loyalty.

The NRA has a "report card" on every congressman and woman who currently hold office. And should that Congress or Senate person receive low marks, they can expect their opponent in the next election to be supported by financing from the NRA and a propaganda war against any elected person who wishes to see more bills passed for gun safety as an enemy to the Second Amendment. And perhaps in a final bitter irony the National Rifle Association is still given non-profit status. Therefore, as an organization, it pays no taxes.

Nevertheless, for those who own a gun or guns for personal protection, to hunting, to target practice with high-speed action from the AR-15, the Second Amendment exemplifies their right and justifies the NRA's power in bearing arms. In the age of information, most of those same people continue to obsess over the meaning of the Second Amendment without truly comprehending its intention and the time period it was conceived. A newly formed country the United States who had just thrown off the yoke of the British Empire rule, its government, now wrote in the Bill of Rights what the authors of the constitution perceived to be practicable in their point in history.

Acting on behalf of the people of an agrarian society with little organized law enforcement, the founders believed that citizens should have the right to bear arms for a militia that may be needed to put down yet another invasion of a foreign power that would set up a tyrannical government. A quasi-police force in geographical areas that had none. Or to suppress a civil insurrection where many in the south believed may come from African American slaves.

It would be impossible for the authors of the Second Amendment to imagine that citizens owning a gun in modern times would prevent foreign invaders who would have aircraft and tanks at their disposal. The eventual development of numerous law enforcement agencies that do the police work of today. And were unwilling at the birth of this new nation to banish the institution of slavery that in part (because of a well-stocked arms supply in the South) led to a bloody civil war that killed 625,000 people.

The straw man that the NRA has made the Second Amendment now plagues victims across the spectrum of American life. The "spin" that politicians supported by the NRA exercise to reduce the logic of common sense gun reform into a conservative test of ideological purity.

Thus, we are left with one of the most convoluted ideas of safety in this country. We are willing to spend a trillion dollars to go to war under the guise of protecting the American people from a foreign enemy; and yet we won't spend a million dollars (one millionth of a million) to understand and hopefully prevent random gun violence in America.