Major corporations have canceled their partnership deals with the National Rifle Association as consumer pressure mounts over the lobbying group’s outsized influence over lawmakers. A new poll indicates 70 percent of Americans favor stricter gun controls, and companies are hearing the message.
Ultimately the voting booth is the most effective way for outraged citizens to loosen the NRA’s grip on lawmakers. No lobbying group deserves the disproportionate power exercised by the NRA, whose millions in state and federal campaign donations help ensure that gun manufacturers’ interests prevail over all else.
Lawmakers live in fear of losing NRA support. It’s time they lived in fear of their constituents if they don’t stand up to the gun lobby.
The NRA doesn’t rely heavily on commercial partnerships — except donations from gun companies. The partnership agreements are a perk for NRA members, who get discounts similar to those offered members of groups like the auto club or the AARP. But last Thursday, led by First National Bank of Omaha and Enterprise Holdings of St. Louis, companies began pulling NRA discounts.
United and Delta airlines quickly joined in, pointedly asking to be deleted from the NRA’s website.
NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre on Saturday labeled such decisions, involving at least 23 corporations, “a shameful display of political and civic cowardice.” This after his angry outburst last week in which he asserted that those who favor limits on gun purchases “hate the Second Amendment, they hate individual freedom.”
No. They simply hate seeing dead citizens, college students and schoolchildren slain by military-style assault rifles fed by high-capacity magazines.
The NRA used eight years of Barack Obama’s presidency to frighten Americans into believing that jack-booted agents would be kicking down their doors to confiscate their firearms. Gun sales skyrocketed, the precise result that manufacturers wanted.
But, in fact, gun freedoms increased during Obama’s two terms. So did mass killings.
Members of Congress respond to those killings with thoughts and prayers and statements of resolve. But at the first sign of NRA pushback, their resolve crumbles. Witness their lofty statements about banning bump stocks after gunman Stephen Paddock killed 58 concertgoers in Las Vegas on Oct. 1. No bump stock legislation has passed.
Now fed-up consumers have joined the movement for sensible gun legislation, starting with a ban on bump stocks and high-capacity magazines.
Congress should follow the lead of Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., a concealed pistol-packing NRA member and Army veteran who lost both legs to a bomb in Afghanistan. In a New York Times op-ed Saturday, he called on Congress to ban the sale of military-style assault weapons and raise the minimum age for certain gun purchases from 18 to 21.
He’s willing to stand up to the NRA. Other members of Congress should do the same.
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