This is interesting. Here’s Wayne LaPierre, speaking to NRA members after the 1999 Columbine shooting:
First, we believe in absolutely gun-free, zero-tolerance, totally safe schools. That means no guns in America’s schools, period … with the rare exception of law enforcement officers or trained security personnel.
We believe America’s schools should be as safe as America’s airports. You can’t talk about, much less take, bombs and guns onto airplanes. Such behavior in our schools should be prosecuted just as certainly as such behavior in our airports is prosecuted.
Rare exception? But that’s not what he’s saying now. What the hell changed?
(And by the way, let’s do prosecute all of those Tea Party Republicans who keep “forgetting” they’ve got a loaded gun in their bag when they arrive at the airport. People like California Assmeblyman Tim “God and Guns” Donnelly, who does not have a concealed carry permit yet still was stopped by TSA with a loaded Colt .45 and an extra magazine stashed in his carry-on. If you haven’t read this story, it’s hilarious. Donnelly said he had the weapon with him because he was getting death threats, and also he wanted to “hide it from his wife.”)
But I digress. Back in 1999, Wayne LaPierre also gave the following testimony before Congress:
We think it ‘s reasonable to provide mandatory instant criminal background checks for every sale at every gun show. No loopholes anywhere for anyone. That means closing the Hinckley loophole so the records of those adjudicated mental ill are in the system.
Got that? No loopholes, anywhere, for anyone. Now fast forward to this week and LaPierre calls universal background checks a “nightmare.”
What changed? I’m sure this has something to do with it:
More than 50 firearms-related companies have given at least $14.8 million to the Fairfax, Virginia-based group, according to the NRA’s own list for a donor program that began in 2005. That same year, NRA lobbyists helped win passage of a federal law that limited liability claims against gun makers. Former NRA President Sandy Froman wrote that it “saved the American gun industry from bankruptcy.”
What a coinky-dinky. The assault weapons ban expired in March 2004, and in 2005 the NRA gets the Bush Administration and GOP-led Congress to push through liability immunity for gun manufacturers. That was convenient. And then NRA created its “Ring Of Freedom” program to reach out to high dollar corporate donors. Not a surprise the NRA did a big about-face on gun laws, is it? They know who butters their bread.
For more, read this:
The report, Blood Money: How the Gun Industry Bankrolls the NRA, reveals that since 2005 contributions from gun industry “corporate partners” to the NRA total between $14.7 million and $38.9 million. Total donations to the NRA from all “corporate partners”–both gun industry and non-gun industry–for the same time period total between $19.8 million and $52.6 million. The vast majority of funds–74 percent–contributed to the NRA from “corporate partners” come from members of the firearms industry: companies involved in the manufacture or sale of firearms or shooting-related products.
What’s frustrating to me is that the news media has tripped over itself handing Wayne LaPierre a microphone to spout his pro-gun nonsense, yet no one has asked him about the NRA’s complete reversal on policies like background checks and gun-free schools.
This opinion piece from MSNBC purports to look at “how the NRA became the fringe,” and traces the group’s evolution into what is basically an anti-government organization. But even this piece overlooks the elephant in the room: the NRA’s positions really changed when they started getting more money from gun manufacturers, gun retailers like Walmart, and the arms industry.