As the National Rifle Association begins its 2018 convention, a new report from the Brady Campaign and Center to Prevent Gun Violence details what the NRA has done in the last year, juxtaposed against shockingly frequent shooting incidents. They claim the report, the NRA’s extremism, knee-jerk opposition to life-saving gun reforms, and newly-revealed Russian connections are costing it clout and credibility after an agonizing year of deadly shooting rampages.
In month-by-month detail, the report documents how the NRA reacted to so many high-profile mass shootings, namely by doubling down on efforts to block widely popular life-saving gun reforms. These include expanding background checks to all gun sales, enabling “Extreme Risk” Protective Orders (ERPOs) to keep guns from people who threaten themselves or others, and banning assault weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines.
In calling the time between NRA conventions a “year like no other,” the Brady report cites:
- a year with a spate of mass shootings that included the deadliest shooting in U.S. history in Las Vegas;
- a year that exposed the NRA’s fanaticism on policies and hateful rhetoric;
- a year that revealed investigations into NRA Russian ties;
- and a year in which businesses, politicians and the NRA’s own members are distancing themselves from the NRA’s extreme agenda and damaged brand.
It also refers to the rise of student-fueled activism that emerged after the horrific shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that has catalyzed Americans around the need for enactment of common sense laws that save lives, and in the process take on the NRA and hold lawmakers accountable in the midterm elections.
“We have never seen a year like this one,” said Kris Brown, Co-President of the Brady Campaign and Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “A majority of U.S. teens now fear a shooting could happen at their school and most parents share that concern. Young people are galvanizing our nation to rise up as never before and are calling BS on lawmakers who have been beholden to the NRA gun lobby unapologetically for far too long. They are saying ENOUGH and we are here to lift up their voices, all the way to the mid-terms,” she said.
“Times have changed,” stated Avery Gardiner, Co-President of the Brady Campaign and Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “The NRA’s fanatical policy agenda is out of step with what Americans — including NRA members — want. So the NRA is hemorrhaging business sector support, and more and more lawmakers are severing ties rather than be dragged down by a brand that is associated with hate and extremism. Responsible gun owners, and NRA members are calling out the NRA for its hateful rhetoric, and dangerous policy agenda.”
The report highlights the NRA’s extreme federal legislative agenda that includes forcing states to accept concealed carry permits from other states regardless of whether they required safety training or basic gun proficiency tests; thwarting federal legislation to ban bump stocks, and rolling back restrictions on silencers, which are desirable by criminals to muffle the sound of gunshots.
The report also catalogs the NRA’s work at the state level, noting a string of defeats for the NRA as the year progressed, both electorally and in state legislatures.
Following mass shootings, the NRA feigned interest in “Extreme Risk” (ERPO) laws. But despite announcing in mid-March 2018 that it had reversed its position and would support ERPO measures, the report shows that the NRA continued to oppose passage of ERPO legislation, including in Tennessee, Vermont, and Minnesota.
Meanwhile, the NRA, an organization that holds itself out as a bastion of patriotism, is now mired in an FBI investigation into allegations about possible collusion with Russian interests around the 2016 election.
“Even as the death toll mounted over the year, the NRA stoked its special brand of fanaticism,” said Gardiner. “The NRA is alienating responsible gun owners who are anguished about the more than 35,000 Americans killed with guns each year.
“In a twisted irony, their M.O. is to actually use the growing gun violence to expand the market for guns and thwart gun laws that might limit sales. They cynically stoke fear among Americans so they can promote every kind of gun, and every kind of ammunition everywhere – from schools to bars to houses of worship. The NRA’s real agenda is about driving gun sales higher,” added Gardiner.
The report claims that the NRA’s approach is fueling an historic new generation of activists in response who are putting gun violence prevention issues first and organizing feverishly for the 2018 elections.
“The ground is shifting swiftly on the NRA, and we see it everywhere. Americans are no longer complacent as people in our communities are being slaughtered, and Americans everywhere are getting involved in organizations like Brady,” said Brown, adding, “Change is already here and it will continue rapidly as we move to the midterms and beyond.”