NRA still wields tremendous clout

Posted by John Kanelis on

You've heard it said -- and this is the cleaned-up version -- that "money talks and BS walks."

If you're a well-heeled political organization, and you've got lots of money to use either (a) to reward politicians who do your bidding or (b) to punish politicians who don't, that tells the story of how things get done -- or don't get done -- on Capitol Hill.

The National Rifle Association perhaps stands alone among the political organizations with unrivaled influence in the halls of government. Whether that's a good or bad thing depends on your point of view.

But there can be zero doubt that the NRA has tremendous influence in the halls of power.

And that explains, according to "Frontline," the acclaimed PBS documentary series, the absence of any meaningful legislation aimed at controlling the purchase, sale or use of guns in America.

An encore "Frontline" presentation airs Tuesday at 9 p.m. on Panhandle PBS that shows the immense influence of the NRA. The segment is titled "Gunned Down: The Power of the NRA."

It's timely once again in light of a recent shooting in Lafayette, La., where two women were killed by a gunman who opened fire in a movie theater. The shooter, John Houser, injured several other people -- and then shot himself to death.

The debate over gun regulations centers almost exclusively on the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It states: "A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

That's as clear as mud, right?

This is just my opinion -- and I am not going to pass any judgment on what the amendment actually means -- but the Second Amendment might be the worst-written portion of the entire governing document. As I seek to reconstruct, deconstruct and examine what it says, the amendment appears to be a non-sequitar. The first part doesn't seem to connect with the second part.

Gun-rights activists focus their attention on the second part, which declares the "right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." Gun-control activists choose to focus on the first part, which refers to a "well-regulated Militia."

The two sides seemingly talk past each other when the issue of gun-control legislation comes up.

And it does every time something like Lafayette occurs. Or the hideous massacre of those 20 children and six teachers in Newtown, Conn. Or the bloodbath in Aurora, Colo., where a jury just convicted James Holmes of murder in the deaths of 12 movie-goers.

In the middle of all this sits the NRA.

It is well-funded. Its executive vice president, Wayne LaPierre, is a passionate advocate for gun-owners' rights and is the face and the voice of the organization.

The link I attached to this blog post contains a number of segments that "Frontline" has aired on the NRA's political clout. They lay out in tremendous detail how the NRA has aquired its influence and how it uses it to promote its agenda.


While we're on the subject, I'm open to discussion about whether the NRA's influence harms and hurts the political process.

Let me know what you think. Let's talk about it.


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