Charles Bednar: Majority rule, not the NRA lobbying arm
October 3, 2017
Majority rule is the bedrock principle of our democracy. For 240 years, Americans have agreed that policy supported by a majority of voters becomes the law of the land. Except when it comes to firearms.
Let's look at the math:
The National Rifle Association claims membership of around 4.5 million. The Washington Post in 2013 investigated that claim and concluded the figure was closer to 3.5 million, but the NRA is not a public entity, so they are not required to disclose their actual membership.
The U.S. Census estimated the country's 2016 population at 323 million. Of those, 249 million are over 18 and eligible to vote.
If we divide the claimed NRA membership of 4.5 million by the population over 18, we get 1.8 percent.
So why is it OK for less than 2 percent of American voters to dictate gun laws for the rest of us?
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The reason is simple: Money. Since 1998, the NRA has donated $3.78 million to current members of Congress, including $11,950 to Fourth District Representative Tom McClintock, who invariably panders to NRA supporters. In addition, the NRA contributes massive amounts to PACs and national political parties, whose contribution limits are more generous than individual candidates.
Unmoved by demands for reform from their constituents, Congress has utterly failed to consider even the most basic, reasonable, common-sense restrictions on gun ownership.
A Gallup Poll in October 2015 revealed that 86 percent of all Americans favor universal background checks and closing the gun show loophole. Nearly three quarters of NRA members support requiring a background check system for all gun sales, according to poll conducted in 2013 by Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health. That survey found 89 percent of all Americans supporting the proposal. In fact, NRA President Wayne LaPierre testified before the U.S. Senate in 1999, after the Columbine shootings, that the NRA would support universal checks. Under pressure from gun manufacturers, he later reversed himself.
The inescapable conclusion is that NRA members, left to their own devices, might adopt a more moderate position on these issues. But NRA executives, who enjoy generous salaries paid for largely by gun makers, steadfastly reject any deviation from the commands of their benefactors.
The notion that members of Congress and NRA bigwigs are motivated solely by their reverence for the Second Amendment is debatable. A reasonable person might conclude their real motivations are simply cowardice and greed.
Charles Bednar lives in Oakhurst, Calif.
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