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Thursday, July 26, 2012

It’s all fiction: NRA has no effectual control over elections - Part 2

In Part 1, Paul Waldman’s first and second studies on the effects of the National Rifle Assn. (NRA) on political elections in relation to money contributed to candidates and the organization’s influence on the outcome of the elections, covered the NRA’s (1)“Ineffective Spending,” and its (2)“Overrated Endorsements.”  The conclusive evidence of Waldman’s study confirms that, “The NRA has virtually no impact on congressional elections.”

Today in the third and fourth studies the author covers the sources of the myth that the NRA wields unlimited power in getting congressional leaders and presidents elected and then the contemporary status of guns in America.  Waldman seeks to literally knock out the foundations that provide “…the mistaken reading of history that allows the NRA to continue to make legislators live in fear of taking on the gun lobby.  In other words expose the NRA lies.

As NRA mythology goes, it all started in the early 1900s, during Bill Clinton’s first administration where the omnibus crime bill was passed in 1993 banning the sale of assault weapons.  Clinton even commented that the fight for the assault weapons ban cost 20 members their seats in Congress.  He added that the NRA was the reason that Republicans controlled the house.  Actually this wasn’t true as the study found a minimum impact on the 1994 election from NRA support.

“Republicans won the House in 1994,” Congressional scholar Gary Jacobson  wrote, “because an unusually large number of districts voted locally as they had been voting nationally,” or, they voted for Congress as they had for president.  It was highly partisan politics where some Democrats suddenly found themselves in trouble in GOP-leaning districts.  It probably had nothing to do with gun legislation, more likely to have been affected by Clinton’s health care reform.

NRA head, wacky Wayne LaPierre even said in speaking to the group’s annual convention in 2002, “You are why Al Gore isn’t in the White House.”  Many experts say, if Ralph Nader hadn’t run, Al Gore would no doubt have won.  And when Waldman looked for evidence that Gore’s stance on gun control cost him decisive votes, he found none.  He even carried states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota and Iowa on the issue.

Waldman reiterates: “the National Rifle Association didn’t win Congress for the GOP in 1994, and it didn’t deliver the White House to George W. Bush in 2000.”  He also comments on a common theme that seems to surface during the analysis, “what the NRA claims credit for usually turns out upon closer examination to be nothing more than elections in which Republicans do well.”  Two glaring examples, Pres. Obama’s and Pres. Clinton’s election wins.

The NRA was in their blustering, bumbling profile while waving the flags over 1994 and 2000 victories, but were completely silent when the Democrats won in 2006 and 2008.

NRA caught with their pants down
 In Paul Waldman’s fourth study, he addresses the current status of “guns in America,” which has been experiencing a long, steady decline over the years.  We’re down to around 32 percent of U.S. households (37,349,213) owning guns, so this raises even more red flags in my mind.  If you do the math, the actual number of guns per households is 8, based on approximately 300,000,000 firearms in the country.  Now here’s the question:

Based on recent reports that gun sales have surged due to the Aurora, Colo. movie carnage, similar to past incidents of gun massacres, are these new guns going into the same households or are they new purchasers?  Either way we are putting more guns on the street thanks to the National Rifle Assn. (NRA).  But, if they are going into the same gun nut households, it is yet another example of an out-of-control nation that loves its guns more than it does its citizens’ lives. 

And that is how we are viewed worldwide.   

 The actual decline in gun sales dates back to 1977 when 54 percent of American adult households owned weapons, but by 2010 the number had fallen 22 percentage points to 32 percent.  Young adult, African American, Hispanic and Asian households have low percentages of gun ownership.  The right to own firearms has become more popular recently in the U.S., along with a majority of Americans that believe in reasonable gun controls.

Watch a not-too-accurate video on NRA lobbying:

Assault weapons, what James Holmes used in the Aurora movie theatre shooting, is another thing.  A CBS/New York Times poll in January 2011 found 63 percent of respondents favoring a nationwide ban on the sale of assault weapons, almost unchanged from the 67 percent that favored such a ban in March 2000 (and even a majority of gun owners favored an assault weapons ban), as reported by Waldman.

Two-thirds of Americans believe in the rights of the 2nd Amendment, but 86 percent want waiting periods to buy a gun.  79 percent support registration while 51 percent think we should limit the number of guns a person can own.  70 percent want gun permits and 85 percent of all gun owners, 69 percent of NRA members support mandatory background checks at gun shows. 

What is it about these numbers that President Obama and the Congress don’t understand?    

Paul Waldman closes by saying, “…the NRA’s vaunted power to determine which politicians win and lose at the ballot box is a myth, one that the group and its allies work hard to sustain. If more legislators understood that fact, it would become more likely that future debates about guns reflect Americans actual habits and beliefs.”

I’m hoping, that seeing this study, gun control advocates like The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, The Brady Campaign and States United to Prevent Gun Violence, would make certain copies of all four studies from Paul Waldman get in the hands of President Obama and every Senator and House Representative.  The Aurora, Colo. massacre was a tragedy, but if we use this and other gun violence to initiate stronger gun controls, we will pay honor to the victims.

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