Does the NRA Influence State Policy?
The issue of gun ownership and acquisition continues to raise debate across America. In fact, people on the political spectrum, media, and public opinions significantly contend this issue to the extent of becoming controversial. Despite existing differences, the National Rifle Association (NRA) continues to be viewed as one of the most dominant players in the gun control. Indeed, the organization has a lot of influence in the policymaking process, particularly concerning weapon laws. The NRA’s core purposes of this debate it to advocate against stricter gun control through a political approach. Advocacy of lenient gun control measures is built on claims that more guns increase safety in America. However, this ideology continues to emanate controversy as the US continues to experience augmented crime rates and violence in different states. Therefore, the issue of increased gun violence in America emanates different opinions, but the fact remains that the NRA has significantly influenced the formation of lenient regulations, which have huge effects in states that support lighter laws governing rifle attainment and ownership, as will be discussed.
The National Rifle Association was formed in 1871 as a recreational group whose core purpose was to encourage and promote gun shooting for scientific reasons. In 1975, the organization took a different path and started influencing state policies more directly by lobbying Congressional members into making lenient gun control policies. Being the most powerful interest group in Congress, the NRA puts up a substantial budget, which influences most decisions made by the legislature. Moreover, the NRA is often preferred as it has a large number of members associated with it. The association mostly lobbies against all gun control measures, claiming that more guns in America translate to increased safety for US citizens (Lee, 2016). In fact, this group defends its claim on the Second Amendment of the US Constitution, which according to the NRA, gives all American citizens an indefeasible right to bear weapons. Therefore, any state that supports lenient gun laws, like openly brandishing them in public, receives tremendous political and financial support from the NRA. On the other hand, states with strict rifle policies receive constant opposition from this dominant group.
Lenient Gun Laws in America
Gun control laws in America are either strict or lenient, with some states like those of Texas and Arizona falling in the latter group. In countries where rifle control is lenient, people are allowed to carry their guns in public without concealing them. In addition, the public in such regions does not require a legal permit or license to own a gun. In fact, private gun investors in such areas do not have to follow strict rules for them to sell arms since gun control states do not take a background check on the buyer before selling any rifle of a client’s interest (Lenn, 2014). With this kind of leniency, such states continually record a high number of crimes or murders that are perpetrated through acts of domestic violence and gun trafficking. For instance, Texas reported 2,848 deaths, which were perpetuated through shooting in 2014 (Alpers et al., 2016). Notably, despite the danger that guns pose when they are exposed to the public, the NRA highly advocates for states to enact the “right to carry” rifle laws, popularly known as RTC.
However, from 1979 to 2012, every country that adopted the RTC laws reported increased crime rates, which went as high as 19% from 4% (Donohue, 2015). Also, the NRA has continued to grow leniency in the states with light gun laws to the extent of upholding that people should live by Stand Your Ground Policy. By lobbying that states should give their citizens the right to perpetrate self-defense, the NRA influences the widespread ideology that gun owners should get involved in the crossfire in case of an attack. As a result, in places like Texas, where people live by the Stand Your Ground policy, homicide rates rise on a daily basis as the state is lenient in its gun control measures. The instances of murders continue to increase by a range of 8%, which is equivalent to 800 deaths per year (Laws, 2015). Moreover, violent activities escalate in such areas daily since the Texan laws allow people to indulge in non-lethal conflicts, which justify homicides that are eventually reported as a murder.
However, in states where gun control is not strict, more women enjoy the freedom and security of having a defense weapon at hand, thanks to the NRA’s influence on enacting the Open Carry law, which allows people to carry their guns in public openly. According to research, more women have enrolled in the Well-armed Woman program, which provides training and boosts female confidence by providing a gun that the female gender can carry in their bras (Pickert, 2014). The Lightfoot group initiative has significantly empowered women and legitimized the Second Amendment by allowing women to protect themselves and their children from attacks through the use guns for self-defense.
Strict Gun Control in America
There are states where usage of weapons is monitored through strict control measures, including California and New York. In fact, California has the most stringent laws regarding to rifle ownership and application. For instance, gun control policies in California require a potential buyer to pass a background check before attaining a weapon, a procedure that takes up to ten days before completion. In addition, in California, a person’s arm must get microstamped to ensure that every time the owner fires, the serial number and model of the rifle transfers to the cartridge. As such, the private dealership is prohibited, thus making it impossible to purchase more than one gun in a month or own a large ammunition rifle. With these kinds of rules, strict gun control regions are characterized by long waiting periods before a citizen can acquire a defense weapon. For example, in 2014, California saw more than 7500 people apply for guns, but county sheriffs and police chiefs continued denying them for as long as six months (Pickert, 2014). When the problem of weapon issuance persisted, the NRA intervened on claims that Californians should enjoy their rights to the existing conceal-carry law and took this state in court with the Edward Peruta vs County of San Diego case. Later, California leveled its grounds with the demands of the NRA, but still the state holds on to extremely strict gun laws.
On the other hand, NY gun control is not as strict as California but still regulates gun possession of its citizen to a great extent. In New York, a buyer is expected to register for a rifle and get a license of ownership after acquiring one. In addition, New Yorkers are supposed to obtain a carry or conceal permit within the city. However, NY buyers are exempted from having a permit before purchasing a short gun since the law applies to heavier rifles (State Gun Laws, 2015). The FBI is responsible for a background check on a gun buyer in New York, a process which can take as long as six months before they can validate a customer’s license to carry a rifle. In that case, gun dealers are exposed to strict restriction on how to handle rifle related matters through requiring them to have a permit and give reports on their sales to state officials.
It is worth noting that the New York gun owners are mandated to store their rifles appropriately whenever they are not in use to prevent home hazards and misplacement. With these kinds of policies, strict gun control states record low mortality rates or homicide occurrence. From a study in 2013 by the Boston children’s hospital, states with strict gun policies registered lower death rates with a margin of about 42% in comparison to those areas with lenient laws. Consequently, homicides have been recorded at 37%, which is 40% lower than those states with lax policies (Alcindor, 2013). In essence, low death rates in states with strict gun control laws are related to the background check that determines if a buyer is a criminal or is mentally unhealthy to handle a gun and cause harm to other people.
Gun control remains a debatable topic in America. In fact, lenient policies have increased the homicides and violence cases in the nation. Notably, the NRA is highly regarded for speaking out on the best way to formulate and implement non-strict laws since its membership and financial power influence most congressional members’ decisions. The permits and regulatory procedures are limited in states with lenient gun control laws. However, such states have high numbers of violence and homicide occurrences. Nonetheless, women and children have a means of defense in such states, a process that immensely empowers them. On the other hand, the regions with strict gun control are monitored closely with ownership and acquisition of rifles requiring permits and clearance to show the legitimacy of the weapon possessed. As a result, such states enjoy low homicide and violence rates since acquiring a shotgun remains a lengthy and tiresome process.
Alcindor, Y. (2013). Study: States with more gun laws have less gun violence. USA Today. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/03/07/gun-violence-study-chicago/1969227/
Alpers, P, Amélie R, and Daniel, S. (2016). Texas: Gun facts, figures, and the law. Sydney School of Public Health, The University of Sydney. Retrieved from http://www.gunpolicy.org/firearms/region/texas.
Donohue, J. (2015). Gun control: What the US can learn from other advanced countries. Newsweek. Retrieved from http://europe.newsweek.com/gun-control-what-we-can-learn-other-advanced-countries-334081?rm=eu
Laws, S. Y. G. (2015). National task force on stand your ground laws: Report and recommendations. The American Bar Association, 1-66.
Lee, D. (2016). US gun control: What is the NRA and why is it so powerful? BBC News. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-35261394.
Lenn, L. E. (2015). What are gun free zones and are they safe? Journal of Legal Issues and Cases in Business, 3(1), 1-18.
Pickert, K. (2014). Armed America. Time, 184(12), 28-31.
State Gun Laws. (2015). New York gun laws. Retrieved from http://gun.laws.com/state-gun-laws/new-york-gun-laws