NRA Political heavyweights.

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-15-2008
NRA Political heavyweights.
Mon, 07-12-2010 - 11:49pm

Disturbing to say the least.
Fresh off a string of victories in the courts and Congress, the National Rifle Association is flexing political muscle outside its normal domain, with both Democrats and Republicans courting its favor and avoiding its wrath on issues that sometimes seem to have little to do with guns.
The N.R.A., long a powerful lobby on gun rights issues, has in recent months also weighed in on such varied issues as health care, campaign finance, credit card regulations and Supreme Court nominees.

In the health care debate this year, for instance, the N.R.A.’s lobbyists worked with the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, to include a little-noticed provision banning insurance companies from charging higher premiums for people with guns in their homes.

The N.R.A. worked out a deal last month exempting itself from a proposal requiring groups active in political spending to disclose their financial donors. Its push this spring for greater gun rights in the District of Columbia served to effectively kill a measure — once seemingly assured of passage — to give the district a voting seat in Congress.

With a push from the N.R.A., a popular bill last year restricting credit card lenders came with an odd add-on: It also allowed people to carry loaded guns in national parks. And the gun lobby put potential supporters of the Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan on notice this month that a vote for her would be remembered at the ballot boxes in November.

The N.R.A.’s expanding portfolio is an outgrowth of its success in the courts, Congressional officials and political analysts said. With the Supreme Court ruling last month for the second time since 2008 that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual the right to have a gun, the N.R.A. now finds that its defining battle is a matter of settled law, and it has the resources to expand into other areas.

When the N.R.A. had a narrower range of targets, it relied on a core group of political figures and met with stiffer resistance from vocal gun control advocates in Congress and outside groups. It now has freer rein to leave its mark politically on issues that once seemed out of its reach.

“The last two years have been a disaster for us,” said Representative Carolyn McCarthy, a New York Democrat and a longtime advocate of increased gun control. “A lot of members are just afraid of the N.R.A.”

On Monday, the N.R.A. began broadcasting advertisements urging senators to oppose or filibuster the Kagan nomination. But the group’s top priority is still finding ways to use the Supreme Court ruling in cities, states and courts nationwide to overturn more restrictive gun laws and establish gun rights measures.

N.R.A. officials say they are determined to protect gun rights even if it means using the group’s $307 million budget and membership of more than four million gun owners to influence ancillary issues.

“What you’re seeing is a recognition that support for the Second Amendment is not only a very powerful voting bloc, but a very powerful political force.” Chris W. Cox, the N.R.A.’s chief lobbyist, said in an interview last week at the group’s Washington office, a few blocks from the Capitol.

He pointed to the debate this spring over loosening gun laws in the District of Columbia after a 2008 Supreme Court ruling found the city’s gun ban unconstitutional. At the time, advocates for district voting rights saw their best chance in many years to gain a voting seat in the House, but they abandoned their own proposal after gun rights supporters attached a provision weakening local gun laws.

“I honestly don’t care about D.C. voting rights,” Mr. Cox said of the legislative maneuvering. “I care about reforming D.C. gun laws, and we’re going to use voting rights or any other vehicle at our disposal to address what we consider a blatant disregard for the Constitution.”

The N.R.A. was just as aggressive last month in getting Congressional Democrats to carve out an exemption tailor-made for the group to exclude it from the so-called Disclose Act, requiring disclosure of donors, rather than risk a defeat of the whole bill because of opposition from Republicans and conservative Democrats supportive of gun rights.

“They shot holes in the Disclose Act with such precision and force that it would make an N.R.A. member proud,” said Kenneth Gross, a Washington lawyer who specializes in lobbying issues.

But the group’s muscle has generated tensions with some gun owners themselves, who do not like the idea of the N.R.A. straying into areas outside its core base and aligning itself with Democrats as it broadens its agenda.

The headline on a recent blog post from a rival faction, the Gun Owners of America, singling out the N.R.A.’s exemption from the campaign finance bill, captured the sentiment: “The N.R.A. Sells out Freedom to the Democrats.”

A point of contention on both the left and the right is the N.R.A.’s close working relationship with Mr. Reid, the Senate leader who helped get a number of pro-gun rights measures included in broader bills.

That relationship has led some gun rights supporters to lobby against the idea that the N.R.A. might endorse Mr. Reid in his tough re-election campaign this November in Nevada.

The N.R.A. is not tamping down speculation. While Mr. Cox said the group had not decided on any endorsements, he pointed to what he considered an unattractive alternative if Mr. Reid loses and the Democrats hold power. “I’ll give you four words: Majority Leader Chuck Schumer,” he said.

Mr. Reid, for his part, does not run from his support for the N.R.A. His office noted that he had been a longtime “champion of the Second Amendment.”

One reason for the group’s greater political leverage is that battles in Washington are so closely fought now that powerful interest groups hold more sway even if they can only deliver a handful of votes.

Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Center to Prevent Handgun Violence, said in pursuing an ambitious legislative agenda, President Obama — who has been largely silent on gun issues — and Congressional Democrats must either work with the gun lobby or risk losing votes. “They basically end up saying, ‘We’re willing to capitulate to the N.R.A. to get the greater good of whatever passed,’ ” he said.

That approach bothers him and Ms. McCarthy, who first came to politics on a pro-gun-control platform after a gunman with a semiautomatic weapon killed her husband and five others during a rampage on the Long Island Rail Road in 1993.

Ms. McCarthy said the group drew its power from its money — it has donated more than $17.5 million to federal candidates, mostly Republicans, since 1989, and spent millions more in lobbying — and the fear of political retribution.

“I’ve told the Democratic leadership, if you give in to them once, you’re going to see every piece of legislation with a gun amendment added to it,” she said. “But it’s put the leadership in a very difficult position because they know they might not get their bill passed.”

N.R.A. leaders say they plan on broadening their efforts.

“I think we’ve done it better than any organization in the country, to be honest,” said Wayne LaPierre, the N.R.A.’s executive vice president.



iVillage Member
Registered: 02-28-2010
Mon, 07-12-2010 - 11:53pm

An AK-47 in every stocking - a Sidewinder missile in every garage!!!

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-03-2009
Tue, 07-13-2010 - 5:24am

The NRA is a terrible but powerful lobby entity. In the first place, its insistence on "constitutional rights" to keep and bear arms totally ignores the introductory phrase of the Second Amendment. Bothers 'em not at all.

They've done their damndest to conflate individual freedoms with a sort of MAD logic. No impediments to carrying weapons into churches, bars, restaurants, parks, airports...... All in the name of "constitutional freedoms". And they intimidate, either with money or with firepower. That's NOT a salient feature of a healthy democracy. Bothers 'em not at all.

Less than twenty four hours ago in the city where I live, a heretofore "law abiding citizen" took a firearm into a plant and shot his girlfriend, critically injuring her. In the course of his rampage, he shot a half dozen others, killing two, before turning the weapon (far too late, IMHO) on himself. Thanks, NRA. Probably bothers your members not at all. They've got theirs. The rest is "collateral damage".


iVillage Member
Registered: 08-16-2005
Tue, 07-13-2010 - 5:31am
And there could have been one person saved by having a gun in their home in the last 24 hours too.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-03-2009
Tue, 07-13-2010 - 5:54am

And the moon "could" be made of green cheese.

All sorts of things "could" be. So the NRA's dubious claim of "saving lives" COULD be wrong. Totally wrong.


iVillage Member
Registered: 08-16-2005
Tue, 07-13-2010 - 5:59am
I am sure those that have saved their families would disagree with you.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-03-2009
Tue, 07-13-2010 - 6:15am

Given the calculus of human life involved in this debate, I would like to KNOW that:
Those who have "saved their family's lives" are numerically significant enough to outweigh the current tally of dead, injured and traumatized.
We won't have to tote our own forms of defense in suburban and urban settings because the social compact of law enforcement has been totally subsumed to individual ability to protect.

Is nobody thinking this through? Asking where the insistence on RKBA is likely to lead with the weak, the young, the aged, those who can't safely carry weapons?

Consider Iraq. Armed to the teeth. Did it stop the nation from being invaded? Result in a safe, stable and civil society; absent a strongman? Engender civil discourse? Lead to an effective government?

Think about it.


iVillage Member
Registered: 09-02-2009
Tue, 07-13-2010 - 6:45am

And there could have been people who died as a result of having a gun in the home as well. Not too unlikely.

"Other studies have looked specifically at the more narrow question of keeping guns in the home for self-defense. One study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, found that having a gun in the home made it nearly three times more likely that someone in the family would be killed.

• The risk of firearm-related homicide is particularly high for women, who are most likely to be killed by a spouse, intimate acquaintance, or close relative. A 1997 study in the Archives of Internal Medicine examined risk factors for violent death of women in the
home. The study found that women who were killed by a spouse, lover, or close relative usually were killed in the context of a quarrel, physical domestic fight, or assault. Homicide was frequently followed by the perpetrator committing suicide, and a handgun was the weapon most frequently used. When looking at the risk of a woman being killed
at the hands of a spouse, intimate acquaintance, or close relative, the authors found that having one or more guns in the home made a woman 7.2 times more likely to be the victim of such a homicide."

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-16-2005
Tue, 07-13-2010 - 6:59am

Why does Mexico have so many gun deaths, with their gun laws?

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-10-2010
Tue, 07-13-2010 - 8:07am

And I bet these people might disagree with you.

Police: Western Kentucky boy killed by accidental shot

  • By The Associated Press

  • Posted July 11, 2010 at 2:22 p.m., updated July 11, 2010 at 2:22 p.m.

MORTONS GAP, Ky. — Kentucky State Police say a 15-year-old boy was accidentally killed when a gun was fired by one of his friends at a home in Western Kentucky.

Police say the victim and some of his friends were looking at a firearm in a home in Mortons Gap on Saturday night when it discharged. State police say the victim appeared to have been shot in the face.

The victim, whose name was not given by police, was pronounced dead at the scene by Hopkins County Deputy Coroner Wayne Burton.

State police say they do not expect foul play in the shooting. The body will be taken for autopsy at the state medical examiner's office in Madisonville on Monday.

That is just one of TWO accidental shooting in my area just YESTERDAY.


iVillage Member
Registered: 03-03-2009
Tue, 07-13-2010 - 10:28am

Felipe Calderon, president of Mexico, says that there's a trade of sorts across our mutual border which has little to do with NAFTA. Drugs from Central and South America, controlled by Mexican cartels, are delivered to the U.S. And in exchange, semi-automatic and automatic firearms, like assault rifles head south from the U.S. into Mexico.

Calderon hasn't been very successful in staunching the flows in either direction. Says we have a role to play too.