The Power Of The NRA

The political power of the NRA after Newtown. Will a massacre of children break the grip of the NRA?

National Rifle Association Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 10, 2011. (AP)

National Rifle Association Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 10, 2011. (AP)

After days of silence on last week’s mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, the National Rifle Association spoke just a little yesterday.  Sort of.  It put out a statement to say it will speak Friday to the media in Washington.  The NRA is prepared, it said, to – quote – “offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again.”

Of course, for years, the NRA has fought, mighty tooth and nail, against practically any gun control.  Fought for guns all over.  Cowed a generation of politicians.  Could there be a change now?  A sea change?  A crack in the power?

This hour, On Point:  the NRA, after Newtown.

-Tom Ashbrook


Robert Spitzer, professor of political science at the State University of New York, College at Cortland. He’s the author of the Politics of Gun Control.

Josh Horwitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.

Gerry Connolly, Democratic congressman from Virginia’s 11th district. The NRA has its headquarters in his district.

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times “But when she and other Tennessee Republicans decided earlier this year not to move forward with an N.R.A. bill that would have allowed people to keep firearms locked in their cars in parking lots, Ms. Maggart became an object lesson in how the organization deploys its political power.”

Slate “You might think that “spokesman for the National Rifle Association” is the toughest job in PR. You might be wrong. At least once a year, and several times in bad years, reporters reach out to the NRA’s Andrew Arulanandam and ask him whether the gun lobby has anything to say about the latest massacre. Arulanandam says basically the same thing, every time.”

Sunlight Foundation “In the wake of the tragic shooting in Newtown, one of the emerging debates is whether there will even be a debate. Past mass shootings have come and gone without any action. Many argue that the reason for this inaction is simple:  politicians have been afraid to take on the National Rifle Association, the large and influential pro-gun lobby that spent at least $24.28 million this past election cycle - $16.83 million through its Political Action Committee, plus $7.45 million through its affiliated Institute for Legislative Action.”

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