Nibbling at NRA’s clout
Information is power.
Thus was the thinking of the progressive news website ThinkProgress when it published a list of 22 corporations that provide benefits to the members of the National Rifle Association, enticing more people to join.
“The NRA is being supported by these companies: Come for the discounts, stay for the opposition to common sense gun laws,” read the headlines of the ThinkProgress story.
ThinkProgress and The Associated Press noted that First National Bank offered two NRA cards, each with a $40 bonus, and touted it as “enough to reimburse your one-year NRA membership!” Much like AARP or AAA, the NRA promotes its discounts for members as a selling point for why people should join. The “valuable 5-star benefits” include savings on insurance, identity theft protection, hearing aids, car rentals, moving vans, shipping, wine and more.
After the stories, thousands of people began contacting those companies on social media. By Thursday afternoon, First National Bank announced it would sever its relationship with the NRA and would no longer issue the NRA Visa Card. A few hours later, the rental car company that operates Enterprise, National, and Alamo said it was dumping the NRA. On Friday morning, Symantec (a security company that owns Norton and Lifelock), Simplisafe, MetLife, Chubb, and Teladoc joined them, according to ThinkProgress.
Dallas city officials told the NRA the group will be “met with opposition” if it holds its scheduled May conference there.
The more memberships the NRA claims, the more clout it has, and the largest lobby for gun makers already spends money not only to support state and federal politicians but also to oppose the enemies of those lawmakers the NRA likes and controls.
Take away the sweeteners for NRA memberships, and the clout weakens.
What about NRA in schools?
Speaking of the NRA “control” factor, local school officials are seeking a grant from the National Rifle Association to build a joint-use marksmanship range at Hixson High School for the JROTC program and the school’s archery team. Organizers hope the grant also will fund equipment and start-up costs needed to create a rifle team with airsoft guns. Hixson is the only JROTC school in the county that doesn’t have a rifle team.
The NRA grant application for $675,000 was approved by Hixson Principal Lee Sims, Superintendent Bryan Johnson and Chief of Schools Justin Robertson. If approved by the NRA, the grant would fund a 5,770-square-foot facility, with an estimated cost of $110 per square foot.
That should send shivers run up and down our spines.
But if the country and Hamilton County listen to President Donald Trump about arming teachers to provide school safety along with reading, writing, and arithmetic, perhaps NRA would want a piece of that action. Ouch. More shivers.
Arming 20 percent of the nation’s teachers, as Trump suggests, would mean 700,000 or so educators with Glocks and the like on their hips or in their socks. (Trump suggests the teachers be concealed weapons carriers.)
By those numbers, teachers would be an armed force half as large as America’s real armed forces on active duty, according to the New York Times.
This all sounds like a sure-fire way to promote home-schooling.
It’s the data, data, data
In America, our best research facilities aren’t allowed to research our gun habits — or even our gun ownership.
There is little research into gun violence at all — especially compared to other causes of death in the United States. And since there is less and less gun “registration” required, coupled with our spotty background checks, the ATF’s National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record is far from reliable.
Why? Three words. National Rifle Association. Insidiously, the NRA in 1996 pushed for — and Congress passed — an amendment to a spending bill that forbade the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from using money to “advocate or promote gun control.”
The push came after public-health researchers produced a spate of studies suggesting, for example, having a gun in the house increased risk of homicide and suicide. The NRA deemed the research politically motivated.
According to The Atlantic, gun-rights advocates zeroed in on statements like that of Mark Rosenberg, then the director of the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. In response to the early ’90s crime wave, Rosenberg had said in 1994, “We need to revolutionize the way we look at guns, like what we did with cigarettes … It used to be that smoking was a glamour symbol — cool, sexy, macho. Now it is dirty, deadly — and banned.”
But the United Nations isn’t cowed by the NRA-owned Congress. U.N.-collected data, compiled by the Guardian, shows the U.S. has nearly six times the gun homicide rate of Canada, more than seven times that of Sweden, and nearly 16 times that of Germany.
Mass shootings make up less than 2 percent of America’s gun deaths, according to CNN. What’s more, the U.S. makes up less than 5 percent of the world’s population, but holds 31 percent of global mass shooters.
As for gun ownership, the best look yet comes from “Injury Prevention,” a scholarly journal. The journal’s survey, published in 2015, asked a representative sample of 4,000 adults nationwide whether they own firearms. The findings helped the research group estimate gun ownership rates in each state.
Delaware’s gun ownership rate is the lowest in the country, at 5.2 percent and far below the national average of 29.1 percent. Alaska has the highest gun ownership rate, 61.7 percent.
What about the tri-state region? Georgia ranks No. 28 with an ownership rate of 31.6 percent. Tennessee is No. 15, with a gun ownership rate of 39.4 percent. Alabama is No. 8, with 48.9 percent of people responding that they own guns.
Information is power.