Some Quick Thoughts About The NRA

The NRA is at it again with another one of their dark dystopian commercials that seem to advocate for civil war.  I am not going to do their work for them by posting it here (you can find it yourself if interested).  Several people claim that the NRAs real goal is to actually not try to scare the left and anybody on the right who doesn’t feel like they have enough guns to increase gun sales.  So I did a little digging into this possibility.  We all know that gun sales rose under Obama, with false claims about how he was going to take our guns, but I had know idea how much.  Below is FBI data on the number of background checks performed.  While this doesn’t translate directly into gun sales themselves, the number of checks certainly is correlated.


You might have to click on the image to get a better view.  What I thought was interesting was that despite violent crime per capita peaking in the early 90s and declining steadily since, the number of background checks (for as far as the data goes back) seems reasonably steady, in fact falling slightly until 2005.  What changed then?  This was during the Bush presidency, certainly nobody was suggesting G.W. Bush was going to take away guns, so I did a little more digging and found this article in Forbes.  From the article:

“Over 50 firearms-related companies have given at least $14.8 million to NRA according to its list for a donor program that began in 2005. That was the year NRA lobbyists helped get a federal law passed that limits liability claims against gun makers. Former NRA President Sandy Froman wrote that it “saved the American gun industry from bankruptcy,” according to Bloomberg.”

The NRA appears to have been riding a wave to more and more gun sales since.  By the end of the Obama Presidency, background checks had increased by 300% from pre-2005 values.  It was just kind of a “holy shit” moment for me, so I thought I’d share.  Since Trump has been elected, the number of background checks seems on pace for about 10%-20% reduction by the end of the year.  It seems all the rich gun manufacturers want to keep getting richer, and the best way to do that is for them to market fear.  And that is what they have done steadily in the US for well over a decade.  Whatever your stance on the second amendment this should frighten you more.  Unfortunately for many the fear they feel is an imagined one.

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24 thoughts on “Some Quick Thoughts About The NRA

    1. I’m not sure I understand what you’re asking. By in large the NRA has convinced conservative voters that they are the victims or are going to be victims of anything from government tyranny to lone shooters to Muslim terror attacks… None of which is based on significant evidence.

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            1. In other news, I’m interested in the role of accusation/guilt in social dynamics. Or the role of humiliation in the process/establishment of status. I know you know about this stuff, any recommendations on literature?

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            2. I am not sure if this is exactly what you are looking for, but your interest would seem to also dip into the process of shaming. I have read a couple of articles by Ron Johnson, and also saw a video (I think it was a Ted Talk). He looks at the history and the topic of shaming in social media culture. There would at least be some connections to things you are interested in. https://www.amazon.com/So-Youve-Been-Publicly-Shamed/dp/1522609555

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            3. Thanks, the editorial review sounds very interesting. It does touch on what I’m looking for, but if anyone knows of specific literature- what I’m looking for is a discussion on the psycho-social dynamic of the accusation.
              For example, in the case of someone accused of being gay (historically) – the accusation itself generated an automatic denial. That action/reaction process then sets up a hierarchy whereby the object of the accusation is vilified/deemed bad.
              This works with nearly anything. If I whisper to you, “I think that child was *adopted*”, a hierarchy is being laid out where being adopted is sub-standard.

              It’s somewhat like the cover-up is worse than the crime dynamics.

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            4. Victoria’s link is spot on, and I also know that many homicides that are committed are from guns stolen from a relative…something like 60% if I remember correctly. When you add that to the accidental deaths of children shooting someone else or themselves, the deaths as a result of domestic violence. Buying a gun isn’t making anybody else safer.

              What is good is that a lot of the people buying guns seem to be people who already have guns. The number of households with guns is declining. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/number-of-households-with-guns-on-the-decline-study-shows/

              In some ways this might be more disturbing since it seems the people the most paranoid and fear driven are well stocked.

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  1. My parents are members of the NRA (joining in 2010, if memory serves). They get magazines from them in the mail, along with political advertising. The NRA does market fear, but specifically it’s related to Democrats. Its latest magazine demanded members to have Trump’s back, since he’d need it to defend against the left.

    Overall, it fits into the collective narrative of the right, that is, people outside the GOP are out to destroy one’s family and way of life. The NRA is just one of many organizations capitalizing on institutional paranoia to make money.

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  2. It has been clear for quite some time that the NRA is just a lobbying/marketing agency for firearms and munitions manufacturers and dealers. Their work is not based in reality and their members, when polled, support reasonable restrictions on gun purchases that their “leadership” does not.

    The fascinating thing is there are only a few million members, most no where near as rabid as their leaders, and their budget is rather small, so I wonder why some gazillionaire of the left hasn’t countered with a similar organization and budget. A graph of ever rising gun sales with arrows pointing to when all of the “Obama is going to take your guns” campaigns were launched (with no effect other than jumps in sales) with a laughing Mr. Obama saying “Suckers!” should work. Seems like the pickin’s are easy.

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    1. Thanks Steve. Is there budget small though? Perhaps based on memberships. My impression from the article is that the key to the NRAs power is the contributions from gun manufacturers. They don’t need a large membership, as long as they can sow fear and get more people to buy guns, it seems that their purpose is served (in their minds). Given the decrease in households with guns, they have to up the fear factor each year to keep those with guns, buying more guns.

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  3. Though my video-clip is on a different subject matter (mortgage-backed securities fraud, not gun-control/sales) — apologies Swarn, I couldn’t quickly think of a better analogy/example — I hope it illustrates the power, deception, and unethical corporate profit-revenue schemes (fear propaganda) can generate at the expense of an uninformed uneducated consumer market. Like the NRA utilizes their highly-paid lobbyist in D.C., Wall Street investment firms lobby for near non-existent trading-investment regulations. Without federal oversight or accountability of trading practices on Wall Street, ala 2007-2008, these are the results (8:20 mark):

    “…You will kill the market for years, it’s over. And you’re selling something you KNOW has no value.

    We are selling to willing buyers at the current fair-market price so that WE [the highest committee-board members that is] MAY SURVIVE!

    I liken these fear-tactics to some of the commercial campaigns by home security systems or identity-theft protection, both of which hype-up the potential threats to your safety, your property, your wealth. But honestly, what ARE the actual risks and their contributing factors? What are home security, identity-theft, and gun manufacturers doing to change, eleviate, or reduce perceived, potential, or actual “threats” in your community, state, nation BESIDES getting into my pocket-book!? Are they actually creating a bigger market for themselves with your money/investments? And are my “fears” generated by actual first-hand experience in YOUR community or generated by the manufacturing company’s advertising-marketing department?

    Swarn, toward the end of the film “Margin Call”, the founder & owner of the investment firm (played by Jeremy Irons) told his Director of Sales (played by Kevin Spacey) that when the massive market crash happens and is over, there will be tons shitloads of money to be made/had from the volatility and he wants “Sam” to stay onboard with him for 24-months to get even richer than rich… on everyone else’s severe (lifetime?) losses.

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  4. “In 2012, there were 8,855 criminal gun homicides in the FBI’s homicide database, but only 258 gun killings by private citizens that were deemed justifiable, which the FBI defines as “the killing of a felon, during the commission of a felony, by a private citizen.”

    That works out to one justifiable gun death for every 34 unjustifiable gun deaths.

    Or, look at it this way. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows that in 2012 there were 20,666 suicides by gun. That works out to one self-defense killing for every 78 gun suicides. CDC data show that there were more than twice as many accidental gun fatalities as justifiable killings.”

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/06/19/guns-in-america-for-every-criminal-killed-in-self-defense-34-innocent-people-die/

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