The NRA has always been known as a powerful force in American politics. With nearly 4 million members, the National Rifle Association has been ranked as the most influential lobbyist group. Of course, it doesn’t help that America is one of the most gun-happy nations on Earth.
The most basic precept of the NRA’s policy is “the promotion of firearm ownership rights as well as marksmanship, firearm safety, and the protection of hunting and self-defense in the United States,” according to the Wikipedia article detailing the group (yes, I regard Wikipedia as a mostly valid source). According to many members and proponents of the NRA, their purpose is to protect Americans’ “second amendment rights,” which in their minds means the ownership of firearms.
Now, this is America, and people have the right to express their views and ideas in a civilized manner. Members of the NRA have just as much right to endorse gun ownership as members of Planned Parenthood have to endorse proper use of birth control (cue blatant plug for Planned Parenthood). But time and time again, the arguments and ideas of the NRA have been called into question, and we’re beginning to find that other aspects of this group are being called into question as well.
Many proponents of “gun freedom” (a term I just BS‘d into existence) argue that studies have repeatedly shown that gun ownership improves the safety of communities. And, to a certain extent, they’re right. Many studies do seem to indicate that gun ownership reduces violent crime. But in an article recently published in the New York Times, I read of the political machinations piloted by the NRA in an effort to stymie research that might make guns seem, you know, dangerous.
I’d encourage you to read said article, as it will do a lot more than I can to show you what I’m talking about (damn professional journalists). But the gist of it is this: The NRA is using legislative strong-arming to deny funding to the National Center for Injury Control and Prevention, a branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC). Now, the NCICP was previously responsible for researching the potential hazards of having a firearm in the home, and thus funded research on the subject. Yet somehow, the NRA managed to dig its gunpowder-coated claws into the $2.6 million reserve of money used to do this research, claiming that this kind of research is too partisan (not that the NRA is partisan or anything like that).
The NRA even managed to squeeze this phrasing into an appropriations bill for the CDC: “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.” (The funds referred to are the $2.6 million, which were restored to the CDC, but specifically designated for traumatic brain injury research.
What’s wrong with this picture? Well, unless the NRA has a gun to your head too, you can probably see that the organization that put this “non-partisan” measure into effect via lobbying is about as partisan as one can possibly imagine! In my thinking, it’s a heinous crime that a lobbying group can hold so much sway over legitimate research about gun control. Now, I myself am an advocate of gun control, but regardless of one’s opinion on this matter, one can hardly justify this kind of manipulation of safety research. Whether or not guns in the home have the potential to increase the danger level of the household, research must be done on both sides of the debate.
And really, if the NRA is so sure that guns are the safest thing since the butter knife, then they shouldn’t be getting so worked up about this kind of research. Because after all, who ever heard of a gun killing anybody?