Letter to Editor: For A Sane Gun Policy; America’s Ready

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A recent Quinnipiac Poll conducted in February this year revealed that American voters support stricter gun controls by a 66 to a 31 majority, the highest level it’s ever been. An 83 to 14 percent majority supports mandatory waiting periods; a 67 to 29 percent supports a ban on assault rifles and an almost 75 to 15 percent of Americans feels congress needs to do more to reduce gun violence.

If these figures are remotely indicative of our present situation, why is congress so intimidated by the gun lobby? The majority of Americans are for stricter gun controls and the country is behind a sane gun policy, so where’s the hang up?

George Stephanopoulos, president Clinton’s then spokesperson, once offered this thought, what he called “one small vote for the NRA.” He said of the organization that its members diligently call their congressmen, or write to them, vote regularly, are generous contributors to the organization and aggressively stand up for what they believe. In an ironic way, he offered the NRA member as a profile of a democracy’s model citizen. If that’s true of its membership majority, Stephanopoulos may be on to something significant.

The difficulty getting sane gun laws may lie less with the NRA than with a passive and disorganized electorate that feels outraged but hasn’t focused the outrage into well-organized political muscle.

I was surprised to learn that few actual candidates are bankrolled by the NRA. Instead, they strategically pour millions into negative ads against any unsympathetic candidates they identify.

According to Sunday’s New York Times of 2/25, “It’s really not the contributions,” said Cleta Mitchell, a former N.R.A. board member. “It’s the ability of the N.R.A. to tell its members: Here’s who’s good on the Second Amendment.”
“Far more than any check the N.R.A. could write, it is this mobilization operation that has made the organization such a challenging adversary for Democrats and gun control.”

The NRA also gains political potency by presenting a single focused agenda with an unambiguous message- great for sound bites: you’re safer owning a gun, and your government wants to take them away. They project a dominoes theory – let the government take our assault rifles away, and then they’ll take our shotguns and pistols, next.

Gun safety advocates clearly have the numbers. Now we need to seize the moment and get organized.

George Merrill
St. Michaels

Letters to Editor

  1. From 2010 -2018 The NRA contributed $111 million to federal candidates. Over $30 million of that went to Trump’s 2016 campaign.
    Guns rights advocate groups have also spent over $135 million lobbying since 1998, while gun control advocacy groups have spent just $19 million.
    Just researching this this morning. Not too surprisingly, Republicans received 99 percent of the NRA’s contributions in 2016, and the top 10 recipients were Republicans.

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