With the pain of numerous mass shootings still fresh in the minds of many Americans, both President Obama and Vice President Biden have spent the last several weeks campaigning tirelessly across the nation to gain support for stronger gun control laws.
But it appears as though the decidedly modest and basic attempts at gun control reform are in trouble, thanks to one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington—the gun lobby.
Multiple national polls have shown that nearly 90% of Americans support universal background checks on gun sales. But in the face of absolutist organizations—particularly the National Rifle Association (NRA)—an apathetic majority is being shouted down by a highly motivated minority.
The NRA has used its enormous influence and budget to stifle cries for even the most modest and sensible changes in firearms regulation.
Over the past two decades, the NRA has time and time again shut down attempts to research anything which could suggest the necessity of stricter gun control. In 1996, the NRA successfully lobbied Congress to put this restriction into the budget for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) budget: “None of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control.”
Further, the powerful lobby has attempted to discredit any studies which do point to the ineffective nature of our current firearms legislation. It has also repeatedly put out its own studies— many of which have been debunked by peer review as untrue, inconsistent, and inherently biased.
So, we must all ask ourselves—what will it take to challenge the NRA’s death grip on Congress and state legislatures? People are all too willing to post on Facebook or slap a bumper sticker on their car.
But when it comes time to work, to make change happen, that enthusiasm appears to die out—meaning that a group of single-minded absolutists is allowed to continue imposing its will on us all. How many more innocent victims will have to die before we rise up against the NRA and force our elected officials to protect us?
“The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.”–Winston Churchill