The NRA is the biggest boogeyman of the anti-gun zealot, hands down.
It’s not that the NRA is a radical group because it’s not. It’s willing to play a little ball with the ideological opponents if it thinks it can compromise and come out ahead. It’s not calling for the repeal of most existing federal gun laws either. It’s simply not wanting to take steps backward, as a general rule.
But the anti-gun crusader sees that as a form of radicalism. Adam Eichen, writing at NBC News, thinks he’s got the answer. That answer? Use your tax dollars to counter the NRA’s influence on elections.
Cynics are correct to doubt, despite the epidemic of school shootings around the country, that meaningful gun control policy will be forthcoming, even though over two-thirds of Americans want stricter gun laws. And everyone knows that there are two groups to blame: The NRA, and the politicians caught in its thrall.
To break the NRA’s stranglehold on politics, we have to directly address the attributes that make them so effective. This means democratizing political fundraising to limit the NRA’s financial firepower, and expanding the number of active voters to normalize the impact of NRA members in many districts where candidates are held hostage by the organization.
The NRA has given $40 million directly to both federal and state candidates, parties, and committees over the past 30 years, and spends millions more (at least $54 million in 2016 alone) in independent expenditures to turn the debate around gun control measures so toxic that even the smallest reform becomes politically dangerous.
I’m going to break in here to point out that $40 million over 30 years is a meager $1.3 million per year. When you consider how many candidates there are in this nation, that’s a drop in the bucket. Especially when compared to the nearly $44 million donated by labor unions (among the top 50 of all donators) to their allies in 2018 alone.
In other words, the amount of money spent by the NRA on politicians is outright meager compared to what some people spend.
Anyway, back to Eichen’s nonsense.
Another interjection, maybe the reason gun control groups spend so little is because so little is donated to them? That may be a sign of support simply not being there for gun control. Those who truly care about an issue are far more likely to donate over that issue, and gun control just isn’t a subject that garners that much in the way of passion for most voters.
There is little that can be done to limit NRA spending in elections; the Supreme Court has all but forbidden any regulations. We have another option, however: We can raise the financial influence of ordinary Americans to counteract NRA spending through public financing of elections — a Supreme Court-approved policy.
Cities and states across the country have experimented with public financing. New York City developed one of the gold standards in 1988. Now, modest constituent contributions are matched at a rate of 6 to 1. That means a $10 contribution turns into $70, allowing small donors to propel a campaign.
And there we are.
The way to counter the NRA’s paltry influence in American politics? Make people donate to the opposition whether they want to or not by funneling tax dollars that direction.
The truth is, Eichen knows they can’t beat the NRA when it comes to fundraising. It’s like he knows that the people won’t fork out their cash to support people taking away their rights, so he wants to make people do it.
Well, stuff like that is why so many of us have guns in the first place. We don’t want to be made to hand over our wallets, or wives, our husbands, our children, or our lives. We damn sure don’t want to see our tax dollars funding people who want to take away our sacred rights in the name of Adam Eichen not getting the vapors of people disagreeing with him.