Become a digitalPLUS subscriber. 99¢ for 4 weeks.
NewsOpinionOp-Eds

Mass shootings: Bad for America, good for the NRA

National Rifle Association of AmericaFirearmsElectionsPersonal Weapon ControlBarack ObamaInterior Policy

It is not too much of a stretch to say the National Rifle Association profits from mass killings like the slaughter at the theater in Aurora, Colo., and the killings at the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis. The NRA is, after all, a fundraising machine that runs on fear and a sense of crisis, even when the fear is false and the crisis manufactured.

A former Republican lawmaker has made public a four-page fundraising letter from the NRA's executive vice-president, Wayne LaPierre, that was sent out to gun enthusiasts just three days after a young man styling himself as the Joker turned a showing of the new Batman movie into a bloody massacre. The Republican whistleblower apparently found the timing of the solicitation just a bit unseemly. At the same time, he insisted on anonymity. Even an ex-officeholder does not want to end up on the NRA's hit list.

In the NRA's defense, such mailings for money generally take weeks to prepare, so it is highly unlikely the letter was sent in response to the Aurora incident. Still, it was convenient timing. In the days after the Joker went wild, sales of firearms and ammunition boomed. The gun-loving populace, it seems, has been convinced by years of NRA propaganda that any mass shooting will be used as an excuse for government agents to start confiscating firearms, so they rushed to stock up before the feds came to their door.

Mr. LaPierre's fundraising missive was yet another example of this fear mongering. In the letter, the NRA leader says President Barack Obama's re-election would lead to "confiscation of our firearms" and, potentially, a "ban on semi-automatic weapons."

"The future of your Second Amendment rights will be at stake," writes Mr. LaPierre. "And nothing less than the future of our country and our freedom will be at stake."

The truth, of course, is that most Democrats have given up the fight to restrict guns, and Mr. Obama has shown no inclination whatsoever to renew that battle. Nevertheless, the NRA needs money, and the money will not come if gun owners do not think they need the lobbying power of the NRA to protect their right to keep and bear arms. In recent years, revenue from NRA membership dues has dropped, as has total income for the organization. So, increasingly, Mr. LaPierre and company have come to depend on contributions from freaked-out gun nuts.

One steady stream of NRA dollars comes from an interesting source. A 1986 law erased the ban on interstate sales of ammunition. Since then, consumers have been encouraged to add a little extra to the total when they buy their bullets online or by mail order. That tip goes to the NRA. Since 1992, these nifty gratuities have reportedly brought in $9.3 million to the organization. That means that every time there is a run on ammo in the wake of a mass shooting, Mr. LaPierre's budget gets a nice boost.

There is a sick symbiosis between the deranged acts of the lone gunmen and the revenue stream of the NRA. In no way can the NRA be blamed for the actions of the shooters, of course, but it sure would be nice to see Mr. LaPierre take a day off from stoking the fear and raising the dough, at least while families mourn the dead.

Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner David Horsey is a political commentator for the Los Angeles Times. Go to latimes.com/news/politics/topoftheticket/ to see more of his work.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
National Rifle Association of AmericaFirearmsElectionsPersonal Weapon ControlBarack ObamaInterior Policy
  • Jovan Belcher didn't need a gun to kill his girlfriend

    Your editorial on the apparent murder-suicide Involving Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher and his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, noted approvingly sportscaster Bob Costas' opinion that "if Jovan Belcher didn't possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive...

  • Why can't Md. veterans carry concealed weapons?

    As a 25-year retired veteran of the U.S. Army Reserves, a year of which I served on active duty in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, I find Maryland lawmakers' unwillingness to support veterans' right to carry concealed handguns disheartening.

  • A welcome break from the silence around gun control

    In response to the editorial on guns in The Sun ("The missing issue: guns," Nov. 5) and a recent show on gun control on WYPR with Dan Rodricks interviewing Johns Hopkins professor Daniel Webster about a report by the Center for Gun Policy and research at the Bloomberg School of Public...

  • An unarmed populace has much to fear

    Letter writer John Holter ("Most people are better off not owning guns," Aug. 13) expressed the notion that most people are better off not owning firearms. His opinion, along with the decision on whether or not to own a gun, is one of the many rights that we enjoy in this country....

  • Most people are better off not owning firearms

    People who think they need a gun for protection should ask themselves this question: Do you know how to use that weapon when your heart is pounding at 140 beats a minute? Have you practiced what it is like to be in the dark and reaching for a gun? Have you ever aimed a weapon at anyone before?

  • In Baltimore, everyday echoes of mass shootings

    The recent mass shootings in Aurora, Colo., and at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin have once again brought the issue of gun control to the forefront of American political debate ("Sikh gathering Baltimore had just finished when 'terrible news of shooting at Wisconsin temple...

  • Guns and terrorism, American style

    Six Sikhs have died in a gurdwara in Milwaukee thanks to an angry white supremacist named Wade Michael Page, who authorities say barged in there with an assault rifle and shot worshipers down in cold blood ("Shooter had hate-group ties," Aug. 7). In what can only be described as a...

  • When citizens are packing, crime goes down

    Your editorial about Maryland's concealed carry gun law supports the state's policy of requiring "good and substantial reason" for issuing a permit ("Guns and safety," Aug. 5). While I agree that our civil rights may not be absolute (e.g. yelling "fire"...

Comments
Loading