The National Rifle Association isn’t exactly having the best of times right now. Anyone who follows the Second Amendment news knows that they’re dealing with a battle in New York, one motivated by political animosity more than anything else.
Because of the NRA’s troubles, though, anti-gunners are salivating. They’re convinced that without the NRA, their agenda can run through Congress without meaningful opposition.
And no, that’s not my guess about what they’re thinking. Shannon Watts basically says as much.
It’s become an all-too-familiar routine in America: A mass shooting in a public place that shakes our collective consciousness is quickly followed by thoughts and prayers, media attention, and calls to action. Then days go by, the news passes, and nothing changes in Congress.
That ends now. This year is different. Not only did the American people send the strongest gun-sense trifecta in history to Washington, but the once-feared National Rifle Association is now desperately trying to stay relevant as its money and power run dry in Washington.
Support for background checks on all gun sales were already overwhelmingly high and bipartisan before two deadly mass shootings in Atlanta and Boulder shook our country—93 percent of Americans support them, including 89 percent of Republicans and 89 percent of gun owners. In fact, voters ranked background checks on par with creating jobs and passing another Covid-19 relief package when it came to priorities for this new Congress and Biden administration in the first 100 days.
But the senseless acts of violence that unfolded at the King Soopers in Boulder and at spas in Atlanta—carried out by two men barely old enough to legally drink—have led Americans from all walks of life to speak with one voice, and urgently: The time to act is now.
Except, Boulder is in Colorado, which already has pretty much everything up for discussion at the federal level, yet it still suffered a mass shooting incident. Watts fails to note just what bills currently up for consideration would have prevented the killer in Boulder from getting a firearm.
Further, the Atlanta shooter used a handgun, which rules out assault weapon bans. He also had no criminal history or history of mental illness. There were no real indicators he’d commit such a heinous act, so red flag laws wouldn’t have helped if Georgia had then, nor would pretty much anything else up for consideration.
While we’re still learning more about both shooters, how they built their arsenals and what fueled their rampages, what we do know is that far too often, someone can take advantage of our country’s easy access to firearms to turn their hatred deadly. A hate-filled person without a gun cannot commit a mass shooting. Disarming hate must include strengthening our gun laws and closing loopholes in order to stop guns from ending up in the hands of people who shouldn’t have them.
Some critics think we are going to replay the same debate of prior years, but this is a different America than it was more than eight years ago, when I started Moms Demand Action from my kitchen counter the day after Sandy Hook. Back then, the NRA was a formidable foe, a flush-with-cash Goliath to our volunteers’ humble but fierce David. But with the NRA on the ropes like never before, that is one of the reasons this time, this moment, this opportunity is different. David will finally win.
Except for the fact that the NRA’s power has always been in its membership. It wasn’t just that the NRA could throw money at campaigns, but that they could also muster a legion of voters who would come down hard on lawmakers who turned their back on the Second Amendment.
While the NRA is, indeed, having troubles, that doesn’t mean the NRA is the only roadblock to Watts and company having their way with the Second Amendment.
Gun Owners of America and the Second Amendment Foundation, for example, are both well-known and respected gun rights organizations that could well step in and fill the void left by the NRA if it were to suddenly cease to exist. They wouldn’t just roll over for Watts’ agenda, either.
Oh, I get that people like Watts think that now is the time. Hell, there’s reason to be worried on our side as well, but they’d do well to remember that the Second Amendment lobby doesn’t end with the NRA. There are a lot of people out here that aren’t willing to just play dead because the NRA is having a tough time.