Tim Dickinson’s latest Rolling Stone feature, “The NRA vs. America,” set for publication in the magazine’s February 14th edition, has been available online for about 40 hours; and, it’s already the most popular political read on the RS website. Once you skim it, you’ll realize there are a lot of self-evident reasons as to why that’s the case.
It’s kind of an “everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about-the-recent-history-and-the-political-power-of-the-NRA-but-were-afraid-to-ask-and-even-more-overwhelmed-with-outrage-once-you-did-learn-about-it” kind of story.
Just a few of the eyebrow-lifting moments in it (for me) would include the following:
--the nexus between the NRA and the military-industrial-complex is a hell of a lot more extensive than many folks may realize—i.e.: many M.I.C. corporations, such as Blackwater (now known as “Xe”) are significant contributors;
--and, speaking of major corporations, according to Dickinson, they’re the ones calling all the shots (twisted pun intended); contrary to the organization’s own spin, it’s not about the organization’s many millions of
“little people” members; nowadays, as the article informs us…
The NRA vs. America(Bold type is diarist’s emphasis.)
How the country’s biggest gun-rights group thwarts regulation and helps put military-grade weapons in the hands of killers
By Tim Dickinson
January 31, 2013 10:00 AM ET
… Billing itself as the nation's "oldest civil rights organization," the NRA still claims to represent the interests of marksmen, hunters and responsible gun owners. But over the past decade and a half, the NRA has morphed into a front group for the firearms industry, whose profits are increasingly dependent on the sale of military-bred weapons like the assault rifles used in the massacres at Newtown and Aurora, Colorado. "When I was at the NRA, we said very specifically, 'We do not represent the fi rearm industry,'" says Richard Feldman, a longtime gun lobbyist who left the NRA in 1991. "We represent gun owners. End of story." But in the association's more recent history, he says, "They have really gone after the gun industry."
Today's NRA stands astride some of the ugliest currents of our politics, combining the "astroturf" activism of the Tea Party, the unlimited and undisclosed "dark money" of groups like Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS, and the sham legislating conducted on behalf of the industry through groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council. "This is not your father's NRA," says Josh Sugarmann, executive director of the Violence Policy Center, a top gun-industry watchdog. Feldman is more succinct, calling his former employer a "cynical, mercenary political cult."
The NRA's alignment with an $11.7 billion industry has fed tens of millions of dollars into the association's coffers, helping it string together victories that would have seemed fantastic just 15 years ago. The NRA has hogtied federal regulators, censored government data about gun crime and blocked renewal of the ban on assault weaponry and high-capacity magazines, which expired in 2004. The NRA secured its "number-one legislative priority" in 2005, a law blocking liability lawsuits that once threatened to bankrupt gunmakers and expose the industry's darkest business practices. Across the country, the NRA has opened new markets for firearms dealers by pushing for state laws granting citizens the right to carry hidden weapons in public and to allow those who kill in the name of self-defense to get off scot-free…
… These NRA directors are representative of a firearms sector that knows lethality sells. "The industry has changed," says Tom Diaz, former Democratic counsel to the House subcommittee on crime, a longtime gun-violence policy analyst and author of a forthcoming book on the industry, The Last Gun. "In terms of what sells and what is marketed most successfully, we're now talking about guns that are derived directly from military design…"
--we’re informed that manufacturers that are still focused upon hunting equipment are not doing well; this quote from Shooting Wire, pretty much sums up the current state of the typical gun-buying consumer’s mindset, “"The net of all the numbers is that if you're a company with a strong line of high-capacity pistols and AR-style rifles, you're doing land-office business. If you're heavily dependent on hunting, you are hurting."
--another fact that stunned me, quite a bit I might add, is this basic reality that: “…the NRA receives funds directly from the sales of arms and ammunition.” (We’re talking about many millions of dollars in revenue per year, in fact!)
Throughout, Dickinson provides us with extensive detail regarding the evolution of the inner politics of the organization as well as how that’s affected the NRA’s outward—and seemingly inconsistent, if not downright schizophrenic--positions on key issues over the past few decades.
I’m really just scratching the surface of this piece. It’s so filled with scores of one-liners, statements and obfuscated facts—each item being more outrageous than the previous one—that it’s easy to say there’s fodder here for at least a few dozen, different blog posts!
An example of what I'm referencing, and reiterating the statement in the blockquote, up above (for emphasis): Dickinson mentions Richard Feldman, an NRA lobbyist who left the organization in 1991. He now refers to the organization as a “cynical, mercenary political cult.”
It’s definitely my pick for this weekend’s “must-read.”
So, what are you waiting for? HERE’S THE LINK!