Why not an anti-NRA lobby?

Here is a pdfstudy about the NRA’s funding sources. Its total revenue was about 350 million. The dues from members were 50.5% of revenue, 27.7% from individual and corporate donations, 7.9% from licensing and other business interests, and 7% from advertising in its publications.

Here’s one:

And another:

The NRA gets the great majority of it’s funding from membership dues and individual contributions. The idea that it’s largely funded by “the gun industry”, like most gun control arguments, is malarkey, at best. But like most anti-gun falsehoods, it keeps getting repeated over and over.

What abut money that goes to reps from the industry itself and through various ways.

How much money do you think the NRA gives to politicians? Almost all their political spending consists of telling gun owners which politicians are trying to pass gun control laws.

There are a shit ton of single issue gun rights voters. They will vote for a pro-choice, pro-Obamacare, pro-gay rights, pro-free trade, etc. etc. etc. that is pro-gun rights if the other guy is an advocate of gun control.

There are almost no voters who will vote for a pro-life, anti-Obamacare, anti-gay rights, etc.etc.etc. politician just because they are in favor of gun control. Almost NONE.

If pro gun rights Democrat were to run against a pro-gun control Republican, those gun voters would come out to vote for the Democrat, but the pro-gun control voters would still not vote for the Republican because they want abortion rights, they don’t want pointless wars, they don’t want tax cuts for the rich, etc.

It’s hard for just the reason you state: gun owners are a relatively small but extremely vocal, determined, and politically active group and therefore have a greatly disproportionate amount of political influence. For decades now it has been to the point that advocacy of gun control is pretty much the kiss of death for any politician, and especially for a Republican, who can’t merely be neutral but is typically expected to be strongly pro-gun and anti-regulation, even if it means crazy people can easily get all the guns they want.

This is similar to the issue of corporate influence over the legislative process that we’ve butted heads about in a different context, but not quite the same because it involves an exceptionally dedicated lobbying organization with multiple self-interested drivers, not just corporations. But it’s the same idea of special interests corrupting the democratic process.

This short article from the New Yorker tries to strike an optimistic tone by suggesting that this landscape may be changing, but I don’t believe it. It does, however, illustrate just how bad it is. An excerpt:
In many accounts, the power of the N.R.A. comes down to money. The organization has an annual operating budget of some quarter of a billion dollars, and between 2000 and 2010 it spent fifteen times as much on campaign contributions as gun-control advocates did. But money is less crucial than you’d think. The N.R.A.’s annual lobbying budget is around three million dollars, which is about a fifteenth of what, say, the National Association of Realtors spends. The N.R.A.’s biggest asset isn’t cash but the devotion of its members. Adam Winkler, a law professor at U.C.L.A. and the author of the 2011 book “Gunfight,” told me, “N.R.A. members are politically engaged and politically active. They call and write elected officials, they show up to vote, and they vote based on the gun issue.” In one revealing study, people who were in favor of permits for gun owners described themselves as more invested in the issue than gun-rights supporters did. Yet people in the latter group were four times as likely to have donated money and written a politician about the issue.

The N.R.A.’s ability to mobilize is a classic example of what the advertising guru David Ogilvy called the power of one “big idea.” Beginning in the nineteen-seventies, the N.R.A. relentlessly promoted the view that the right to own a gun is sacrosanct …

The New York Times does a good analysis of it, too:
Inside the Power of the N.R.A.

A lot of Hollywood stars are pro gun control but they look like major hypocrites when they 1. have armed bodyguards and 2. act in movies where their characters are shooting guns. I think it was Tom Selleck who shut up Rosie Odonell by pointing out she had armed security after she slammed him on his pro gun stance.

On a related note once on a local call-in tv show where the topic was gun control I shut up the host by pointing out she lived in a safe gated community in the suburbs and even her gun control guest admitted that living in a dangerous area of the city might warrant a gun for protection.


Last I heard individuals supported about 50%, Gun companies and etc about 25%.

Being pro gun control is not the same as wanting all guns banned. I fail to see the hypocrisy.

Yeah, it’s the usual false dichotomy / excluded middle.

As I understand, gun companies fund election campaigns more than the NRA.

I do. Wanting the average person to NOT be able to have a gun for security but themselves, having armed security.

Thing is we already have dozens if not more gun control laws on the books, and they all failed to stop this madman.

Reminds me of an old adage: The difference between smart people and dumb people isn’t that smart people don’t make mistakes. They just don’t keep making the same mistakes over and over again.

This is the correct answer. Look at the biggest lobbying groups in Washington, they’re almost all financially backed by an entire industry. Big pharma, banking, agriculture, tech, mining, oil, etc. etc. etc. There are financial interests driving them. Even whatever lobbying groups exist that are anti-those-things have financial interest. Big pharma vs. health insurers, for example. But almost no one will realize financial gain by NOT selling guns. Thus, no huge anti-gun lobby.

If that were true (and I’m deeply skeptical that gun companies are a significant source of funding for election campaigns), why does the left place such an emphasis on the NRA?

ETA: take this thread, for an example. It’s “Why not an anti-NRA lobby” and not ‘Why not an anti-Ruger/S&W/Remington lobby’

Same reason there is no anti-Walmart, Lockheed, EXXON or AIG lobby: Big Business is untouchable, even in the face of mass murder.

the real question there was “why does the left place such an emphasis on the NRA?”

Because they keep losing to it.


I would have thought that was obvious. Fools typically do what they do because they’ve somehow been convinced or deluded themselves into believing it’s in their best interest. The smart money keeps a very low profile on this issue. The NRA is the only overtly tangible target.

As the OP, maybe I should clarify what I meant by “anti-NRA”: an effort that’s not against the NRA per we, but one that uses the NRA’s tactics for exactly the opposite ends: raising funds, lobbying lawmakers and organizing voters for gun control.

As I recall from the excellent PBS/Ken Burns documentary on Prohibition, state-level prohibition in the early 20th Century, and the 18th Amendment at the national level, were the result of a highly-organized single-issue voting bloc marshaled by the Anti-Saloon League. The League would endorse or target candidates based entirely on whether they supported or opposed prohibition, and its members voted and donated accordingly. And the League was successful: generally, “dry” candidates endorsed by the League won their elections and “wet” candidates targeted by the League lost theirs.* Conversely, the 21st Amendment passed when the Association Against the Prohibition Amendment (AAPA), an equally one-issue organization, arose to seek repeal of the 18th Amendment.

Carrying this over to the present issue, the NRA like the League points a cadre of true-believer voters in the desired direction, to vote for and against candidates based solely on their position on gun control, and those voters are motivated to indeed vote in the desired manner. So long as the NRA has enough money to publicize the gun-control positions of candidates – not terribly expensive in the age of Facebook and Twitter – it has political power. I’m sure donations etc. from gun manufacturers don’t hurt the NRA, but IMHO that’s not the NRA’s source of power, a bloc of voters willing to vote based solely on a candidate’s gun-control stance is.

However, unlike the AAPA who could unify around a single position – repeal of the 18th Amendment – an anti-NRA does not have a ready-made unified position because, as has been noted above, “gun control” is not a single position. The NRA merely has to keep saying “no,” but an anti-NRA would have to reach a broad and motivating consensus on what its members want to say “yes” to. Make the desired/fought-for regulations too strong, too close to the NRA stereotype of “gun grabbing” and you lose the support of moderate supporters of gun control. Make the organization’s position too compromise-y to attract moderates and undercut “gun grabbing” rhetoric, and it likely has (to paraphrase Daniel Burnham) no magic to stir voter’s blood and probably itself will not be realized. The NRA will still call that moderate compromise “gun grabbing” and its voters will not be divided or unmotivated.
*That’s the impression I got from the Burns documentary, but a little googling on the subject is more ambiguous about the League’s success in promoting drys and punishing wets at the ballot box.