I’ve seen some more articles and comments lately lambasting the “gun lobby” for issues about gun laws and restrictions being lifted or not being strict enough. For instance, according to some of these comments, it is entirely the fault of the “gun lobby” that open carry and campus carry (sort of) have been passed in Texas.
So who is this mysterious “gun lobby” that anti-gun people are so intimated by? According to them, it is a collection of groups that are paid by gun manufacturers to promote legislation that is friendly towards gun owners in order to increase sales.
First lets look at the organizations that the “gun lobby” consists of. The largest and most notable of these is the NRA, or the National Rifle Association. The NRA membership doesn’t consist solely of gun manufacturers, and being a member of the NRA isn’t free. Membership of the NRA consists of over 4 million paying members. While some politicians are members, the majority of their membership is regular people; men and women from all walks of life. The only requirement to be a member of the NRA is to pay membership dues. The NRA isn’t the only group that makes up the “gun lobby” however. The Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), Gun Owners of America (GOA), National Association of Gun Rights (NAGR), Jews for the Preservation of Firearm Ownership (JPFO), The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), The Citizen’s Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (RKBA), and a host of other state level organizations also make up the “gun lobby.”
There are some interesting things to note about these organizations. Firstly, the membership of nearly every single one of these organizations consists of regular people. Also, to be a member of any one of these organizations, you must pay membership dues.
Now let’s compare the “gun lobby” to the “anti-gun lobby.” Yes, there is an anti-gun lobby group that is diametrically opposed to the “gun lobby” and gun owners rights in general.
The groups of the anti-gun lobby are organizations like Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG), Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America (MDA), Everytown for Gun Safety (EGS), The Violence Policy Center (VPC), The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV) and Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS). There are no state level organizations that I am aware of.
The first notable thing is that every organization in the anti-gun lobby can be traced back to a politician, or a group of politicians. Sometimes one politician is responsible for several groups. Also, membership in the anti-gun rights groups is anemic compared to the pro-gun rights groups, even though membership doesn’t cost anything.
Let’s compare membership numbers for each organization. The numbers below are contested by both sides for various reasons. Instead of trying to debunk the numbers from either side, I will just go with the numbers that each group claims.
|Pro-Gun Rights||Anti-Gun Rights|
This sets up an interesting dynamic. If pro-gun rights legislation gets passed, the anti-gun legislation blames the “evil gun lobby” and gun manufacturers, even though it was demonstrably and thoroughly supported by the people. If anti-gun rights legislation gets passed, the anti-gun lobby credits the people, even though it was mostly the politicians who supported the legislation. Seems a little dishonest, especially when you compare membership between the two groups.Just to clarify, the only thing you have to do to be a member of one of these anti-gun groups is sign a pledge, or like them on facebook, or even just claim that you are a member, and they still have less membership numbers than pro-gun organizations. (*The Violence Policy Center does not have any membership and is supported by donations, mainly from the Joyce Foundation, which also does not have any membership. The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence is a group of 48 smaller political organizations. There is no direct membership.)
Of course dishonesty is not surprising, considering the roots of the anti-gun lobby groups. A large number of the namesake members of MAIG have a criminal background that precludes them from owning firearms by law. The founder of MDA used to be the lead public relations representative for a large conglomerate corporation, not a stay at home mom as she claimed. (By the way, most anti-gun rights people despise the company that she used to work for.)
This dishonesty was on full display during the public comment sessions for Open Carry and Campus Carry. There were many people who commented against passage of either bill, who all said the same thing. Those feelings against support of the proposed legislation instantly lost all credibility and went from sad to near comical as person after person walked up to address the Texas legislature and all said the exact same thing. It was not heartfelt. Instead it was canned language and I am somewhat surprised that one of the people speaking didn’t accidentally say “Hello, I’m Your Name Here, and I would like to talk…” as they read their notes. Every single one of them claimed to be from the group Moms Demand Action.
So where does the money come from? As we demonstrated when going through the membership of these organizations at least one, the Violence Policy Center, is supported solely by using a political shell game. All of the pro-gun rights organizations have paid memberships. It’s a fairly safe bet that money is used to campaign and promote pro-gun rights policies and political candidates. The NRA has even gone so far as to separate their legislative campaign component from the rest of the group, as the Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA). On the other side, Everytown, Moms Demand Action, and MAIG are all supported financially primarily by Michael Bloomberg. This just further cements the idea that pro-gun rights groups are supported by people, and anti-gun rights groups are supported by politicians.
While I could dissect each and every little aspect of each organization, including membership, funding, spending, tax filing status, background, history, etc. for each organization, there really is not point to printing that level of detail on my blog. Instead I’ll break it down simply. Anti-gun groups can’t give away enough to equal what pro-gun groups get paid for in terms of membership. Is there a “gun lobby?” Absolutely, and it represents people just like you and me, not the gun manufacturers.