If there was ever a time when the sycophantic aims of the NRA and Republican Party were on full display, this is that week.
Just days after a mass shooting in Uvalde left 21 dead, including 19 elementary school children, NRA leaders confirmed they are moving forward with a planned convention in Houston that will feature Donald Trump as the headlining guest speaker.
In a public statement, NRA leaders dismissed the bloodshed in South Texas as the act of a “lone, deranged criminal,” a term that, somewhat ironically, could also describe Trump. The twice-impeached instigator of the Jan. 6 insurrection, not-so-closeted white supremacist, and credibly accused rapist is undoubtedly seeking campaign contributions from the association that gave him $30 million in 2016.
Since 1998, the NRA has spent $45.9 million on federal lobbying, based on PolitiFact findings. Along with concerted attempts to sway elections in favor of right-wing gun nuts, the NRA’s lobbying efforts undermine the ability of communities, local government, and law enforcement to enact the types of reforms that could begin to stem the bloodshed from mass shootings.
“Fuck them,” Fred Guttenberg recently told Politico when asked about the upcoming NRA convention. Gutenberg’s 14-year-old daughter was killed in a Florida school shooting in 2018.
“Fuck all of them,” he said. “Our kids are dying in record numbers, and it is because of them.”
Through its embrace of the NRA, the Republican Party has become the party of no background checks even as an average of 40,000 Americans a year die from gun-related homicides and suicides. The nonprofit Gun Violence Archive has tracked more than 17,000 gun-related deaths in this country so far in 2022. Gun violence stokes fear, which boosts gun sales and NRA membership fees that are donated to Republicans, who fuel the vicious cycle all over again.
The NRA’s attempts to dismiss mass shootings as acts by “deranged” lone wolves diminishes the active role the NRA plays in giving would-be mass shooters access to the kind of firepower that belongs only on battlefields and nowhere else.
The 18-year-old Uvalde shooter was packing an AR-15 rifle and high-capacity rounds. While the NRA maintains that assault weapons are not used in most mass shootings, many of the deadliest shootings have involved these types of rifles. Lone shooter massacres in Aurora, Boulder, Orlando, Las Vegas, Parkland, San Bernardino, and, of course, Sandy Hook were all carried out using some version of the AR-15 assault rifle. And yet the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action calls on NRA members/politicians to resist calls to ban assault rifles.
“So-called ‘assault weapons’ have never been used in more than a small percentage of firearm-related violent crime,” one NRA article reads.
When they are used, the high-velocity rounds blow holes through bodies that lead to catastrophic bleeding. The Republican Party’s love of death culture has, at least on one issue, put it at odds with law enforcement.
“NRA Achieves Historic Milestone as 25 States Recognize Constitutional Carry,” reads one headline on the NRA’s splash page.
Last year, Gov. Greg Abbott and Republican state leaders passed a so-called constitutional carry law that removes permit and training requirements for handgun ownership. Law enforcement groups condemned Texas’ 2016 open carry law and the 2021 permitless carry bill. Republican leaders also passed bills last year that protect groups like the NRA. Senate Bill 19 strips any company that criticizes the NRA of state and local government contracts. House Bill 1500, also passed last year, prohibits the government from ever shutting down a firearms-related business during a disaster, an obvious response to temporary gun store closures during the onset of the COVID pandemic. Top NRA leadership spoke during the signing of the constitutional carry law and other laws aimed at protecting gun rights.
Abbott’s words and expressed condolences over the most recent school shooting fall abysmally short. Any attempt to pass meaningful gun reform laws that could avoid another mass shooting of children will not be possible as long as the Republican-NRA cabal remains in power.
Republicans and their elected leaders are incredibly vocal on so-called “pro-life” issues like abortion while being equally silent on the slaughter of innocents which we now witness on a near-weekly basis. For a party that claims to be “pro-life,” Republicans sure have a lot of blood on their hands.
This column reflects the opinions of the editorial board and not the Fort Worth Weekly. To submit a column, please email Editor Anthony Mariani at Anthony@FWWeekly.com. Submissions will be edited for factuality, clarity, and concision.