Just over a month after the NRA won the the day when the Senate voted down a proposed gun control package on April 17, the New Republic declares the NRA isn’t as strong as you might think and gun ownership is actually on the decline.
The New Republic contends that while the group has “real clout,” its power “has been more a matter of entrenched wisdom than actual fact.” In other words, the NRA only looks strong because it has long been assumed strong. But in reality, individuals with an “F rating” from the NRA have won Senate and gubernatorial seats recently, demonstrating that the NRA isn’t really that influentialafter all.
To back up this claim, the New Republic quotes Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) as saying: “The NRA is just all mythology. [They] do not win elections anymore.”
According to the New Republic, the NRA was only strong when they had no opposition. But once NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s “Mayors Against Illegal Guns” (MAIG) emerged in 2006, everything changed, and the NRA began losing power.
What the New Republic doesn’t bother explaining is how the NRA can both keep winning, yet be losing power. For example, after then-Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) was shot in Tucson in January 2011, MAIG pushed for a ban on high capacity magazines; the NRA pushed back and won.
More recently following the Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, CT, MAIG supported the “assault weapons” ban, the “high capacity” magazine ban, and the expansion of background checks to gun shows. Again, the NRA won the day on those issues. And now MAIG is left behind to run ads criticizing Senators like Jeff Flake (R-AZ) who opposed more gun control.
The New Republic also claims an alleged decline in ownership of firearms proves the gun lobby is losing. In reality, however, gun ownership is skyrocketing, and not just with gun owners whom the mainstream media loves to depict as backwoods hayseed: women from all walks of life and male first-time gun owners are also increasing.
From the beginning of 2009 through May 3, there were 73,219,367 background checks for gun purchases. This number only indicates the number of purchasers, not the number of guns purchased. The number of guns purchased could have been two or three times that number. The years 2011 and 2012 both saw the highest number of background checks of any year on record; already 2013 is on pace to have the highest number of background checks ever.
Moreover, many of these new gun owners are joining the NRA, which now has a membership of five million Americans.
The lessons are clear. The NRA has real, not imagined, power, and gun ownership is growing exponentially. Claims to the contrary are mere wishful thinking from 2nd Amendment opponents.