Which gun laws does the NRA support?

NRA : The gun lobby - the really big caliber

Marco Rubio had a hard time. On a discussion program on CNN, the American senator and opponent of stricter gun laws were harassed a few days ago by survivors of the Florida school massacre. Rubio was asked by the student Cameron Kasky whether he would forego campaign donations from the NRA, the powerful association of the gun lobby, after the death of 17 people. Rubio said no. Even when Kasky offered the senator to raise the same amount Rubio was receiving from the NRA for a gathering among the audience, the senator shook his head. Rubio's ties to the NRA are so stable, even after the recent mass murder, that he rejects a ban on assault rifles for civilians.

The gun lobby in the US uses campaign donations to politicians like Rubio to block gun law reform - this is the common explanation for the fact that even after brutal mass murders like that at Marjory Stoneman Dougls High School in America, there is no ban on assault rifles or other war weapons comes. The reality is, however, more complicated. Money is just one of the reasons the National Rifle Association (NRA) is influential, and not even the most important.

The arms industry is not the largest branch in the United States, nor is it the most generous lobby group. Even the dairy industry in Washington distributes more money than the NRA. That doesn't mean the NRA doesn't have a sizable war chest. The association put nearly $ 55 million into the 2016 presidential campaign, with President Donald Trump being the main beneficiary with around $ 31 million. All over the country, politicians from Trump's Republican Party in particular received generous checks from the gun lobby. Rubio was supported with more than three million dollars.

At $ 55 million, however, the NRA was by no means the largest funder in the campaign. Billionaire entrepreneur Tom Steyer's financial firm Fahr LLC sold more than $ 90 million, according to the website OpenSecrets.org - and every single dollar from Steyer went to Hillary Clinton's Democrats.

The lobbyists' response to attacks: more guns

From the perspective of the NRA leadership, Clinton's Democrats are the representatives of God. If the opposition party should ever take power in the US again, American freedom will be over, says NRA chief Wayne LaPierre, who claims to have discovered "socialism" behind calls for stricter gun rules. LaPierre's answer to the deadly threat posed by firearms to schoolchildren, churchgoers, and nightclub-goers is simple: more firearms.

The NRA does not accept any indications that this recipe is not a panacea. While 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz hunted his former classmates at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida with an AR-15 assault rifle last week, an armed deputy stood outside the door, but did not intervene. Like Trump, the NRA is in favor of equipping some teachers with weapons in the future.

The NRA and other gun fans derive a general basic right from the second amendment to the constitution, which stipulates the right to own guns to equip a "well-ordered militia" in the individual states: This interpretation allowed the Florida shooter to legally buy an AR-15 whose high-speed cartridges tore the internal organs of the victims so far that they bled to death within minutes. Nikolas Cruz couldn't have killed so many people with a handgun.

Two-thirds of Americans for banning assault rifles

For many Americans, this has crossed a line. According to surveys, a two-thirds majority is in favor of a general ban on assault rifles. Still, nothing changes after the Florida massacre. This is not due to the money of the NRA, but to the political strategy of the association and the political system of the USA.

In order to keep politicians like Rubio or Trump in line, the NRA uses its donations very specifically. In the 2016 election campaign, for example, the gun supporters concentrated on a few election campaigns in the new elections for the Senate, in which NRA-affiliated candidates had to cope with strong headwinds. Only one of these races was lost for the NRA. In the presidential election campaign, the NRA supported the entrepreneur Trump with TV spots in Pennsylvania and Ohio - two states that, contrary to many expectations, fell against Trump and paved the way for him to win.

For many Americans, gun ownership is part of their identity

Smart election research is also done by other US stakeholders. What sets the NRA apart from other organizations is its focus on an emotionally charged issue and its ability to get voters to the polls when it matters. This recipe works wonders, especially for white men without a college degree in the American provinces. For them, gun ownership is an important part of their identity as Americans - the myth of the settlers of the past centuries resonates here. Traditional distrust of the state also plays a role. When LaPierre speaks of the danger of "socialism", he is addressing an American primal fear.

In a country where many people rarely or never vote, the ability to mobilize electoral groups in contested constituencies is political gold. When the NRA calls, people come: that is the secret of their success.

It is therefore difficult for politicians in American states far from the liberal coastal regions to oppose the NRA. Weapons-critical parliamentary candidates have no chance there if the NRA agitates against them. In a country with around 200 million voters, the approximately five million NRA members have a disproportionately large influence.

When the oath is taken the next election day, the NRA will be back. That's why Rubio was so steadfast in his commitment to the gun lobby. In terms of political power, hardly anyone can compete with the NRA.

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