In the future, when I have kids, I want to drop them off at school and not worry about whether they will come home again. That is what parents are worrying about today. At elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, and colleges, students are being shot to death with assault weapons. The survivors from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have begun to use their voices to bring the gun control debate to the forefront of Washington politics. However, the future is uncertain and unfortunately, not very hopeful. The issue with politicians in Washington, especially Republican’s, is that the money given by the NRA provides too much influence on political decisions regarding gun control laws. The aggressive rhetoric and over-the-top lobbying efforts leaves gun purchasing requirements too lax and leaves our citizens in danger.
The number of gun-owners in the United States is incredibly small compared to the number of guns owned. Only about 30% of the US population are gun-owners, while there is a record of 300 million legally purchased arms; that is almost as many guns as our total population. The statistics regarding how much the NRA donates, who they donate to, and how much influence they feel they deserve are staggering. However, evidence shows that much of the way they maintain support for no gun control is from claiming to be “defenders of the constitution,” as well as making sure powerful, conservative politicians make choices they like. Per the PEW Research Center, only 19% of gun-owners are members of the NRA or less than 1/5th of the US population. So how does such a small number of people get to decide laws that are putting our kids at risk?
The main laws at the center of gun debate appear to be the background check requirement, the assault weapons and high-capacity magazine bans, and the ability to purchase weapons at gun shows and get around the Brady Act. Studies show that most Americans, 89%, agree that mentally-ill people should not be allowed to be gun-owners and over 75% of both gun-owners and not, agree that the severity of background checks should be increased. But why do we not see changes in Washington if so many people agree on this? A recent interview with Florida Senator Marco Rubio and NRA representative, revealed the ways in which they tried to defend their political choice up against attack from Marjory Stoneman High School survivors and parents. One parent, who lost his daughter, stood up and said, “guns were the factor in the hunting of our kids in this school this week. And look at me and tell me that you accept it and you will work with us to do something about guns.” Rubio’s response was entirely inadequate as he responded, “the problems that we are facing here cannot be solved by gun laws alone…now I think what you’re asking about is the assault weapons ban…if I believed that that law would have prevented this from happening, I would support it.” He was then interrupted by the same father who told him that his daughter was killed with an assault rifle because the access is too easy. Later in the town hall, Rubio responded to a question from a junior at Parkland asking if he would stop taking money from the NRA, and Rubio said no.
This town hall and the way Rubio responded and deflected questions is a prime example of what is happening with the gun control debate and the influence of the NRA. On Wednesday February 29th Trump made positive statements regarding gun control and seemed to side with Democrats on a need for reform. Not even 48 hours later, after a meeting with NRA lobbyists, he has begun to backtrack on these original statements. The NRA has too much power for the number of people it represents. They use the claim that they are defending the constitution as a way of swaying support and riling up patriots. However, the adrenaline a shooting a gun is not worth more death in schools.
The debate in Washington is never-ending and seemingly hopeless because the monetary influence is too great. The NRA has donated over $20 million to help knock down gun control laws, while gun-control lobbyists have only been able to give $4.2 million. The bill Fix NICS which was proposed last year after the Texas church shooting is trying to provide a way to hold federal and state authorities accountable with background checks. The bill uses financial incentives to keep states accountable and based on evidence it appears that money is the only thing that will make our lawmakers do their jobs and protect our citizens. There need to be regulations on big money in politics and while rich, the NRA protects a small number of citizens. Too many people are being killed and injured for our officials to not use their common sense and make adjustments to policy and to protect and defend their constituents.
I really find your blog post intriguing especially now that school shootings have increased in number and are becoming more normalized. It is ridiculous how we have to worry about the safety of our siblings and children while they are at school especially due to gun violence. I feel as if many people who say it is their civil right, right to bear arms, do not really understand the consequences of allowing “anyone” to just buy and own then. The Florida shooting has made a lot of people more aware of the dangers of allowing anyone to own guns, but the sad news is that, cries for action are being ignored due to the fact that, as you mentioned, interest groups provide money for politicians in order to keep having policies that interest them implemented. I feel like people have their priorities mixed up; people are dying over the lack of laws that restrict gun access, and they just don’t seem to really care.