Earlier this year, the National Rifle Association opposed a bill that would prevent convicted stalkers and abusive boyfriends from possessing guns. “Why? Because any gun purchase increases profits for gun manufacturers, and any regulation – even common-sense measures – is to be opposed.”
Having arrived at this indecent and immoral policy the NRA leadership deserves everything it gets, and it is starting to get it. It is losing money to the tune of $40m a year, and at its recent annual meeting an ugly power struggle broke out among its leadership. Long-time CEO Wayne LaPierre accused the NRA’s now-ousted president, Oliver North, of trying to blackmail him into resigning, with a dossier of alleged financial improprieties. This followed a devastating New Yorker exposé revealing a culture of “secrecy, self-dealing and greed” in the organisation, with NRA executives awarding themselves high six-figure salaries and lavish benefits. To add to the NRA’s woes, it’s also facing an investigation into whether Russian agents used it to funnel money from a Kremlin-linked banker to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
It gets worse. The attorney general for New York state (where the NRA is chartered), has announced an investigation of the NRA’s tax-exempt status, stating that the group, which holds itself up as a charitable body, is more akin to a “terrorist organisation”. It was originally designed to help marksmen with firearms training and safety. Lobbying for gun rights only became central to its mission in the 1970s: even then the group pursued that end in a “notably bipartisan” way. Today though, it cleaves to the Republicans and goes “all in for the culture war”. Where once NRA leaders concerned themselves with safe, responsible gun ownership, they now inveigh against “socialists” and hold forth about issues such as immigration, race and healthcare, a virtual surrogate for the current White House. It has no hint of empathy for the the scores of people killed by gunfire, or their families – the guns count for more than people, a stance that is greeted with disbelief everywhere else in the world. (Adapted from a variety of articles in the press, including The Week, 11 May 2019)