Why is Trump Anti Gun

For decades, the American gun lobby had politics under control. But now she is struggling to survive

America's largest gun lobby, the National Rifle Association (NRA), once held the reins of politics. Now it threatens to dismantle itself.

"Fight!" Said Wayne LaPierre, head of the National Rifle Association (NRA), to his five million members last fall. "Fight as if your right to survive was at stake!" "Vote Donald Trump, because it's about EVERYTHING!" He called on the Americans. And with the capitalized «EVERYTHING» LaPierre meant one thing above all: the second amendment to the constitution from 1791, the sacred words of the NRA: «Since a well-ordered militia is necessary for the security of a free state, the right of the people, Owning and carrying weapons is not impaired. "

The enemy comes from within

As is well known, none of it was of any use. Trump, whose re-election the NRA supported with an estimated $ 30 million, is gone. Instead, "the worst anti-weapons government in American history" now sits in the White House, as the NRA wrote on the day of inauguration. And as a further warning, she added a video in which Joe Biden promises his voters: “We will not stop until we have defeated the NRA. And we won't stop until we've gotten rid of the killer attack weapons. "

America's most powerful gun lobby, with its five million members, finds itself surrounded by hostile Democrats, but its most acute threat comes from another side - from within. The hardest blow to date came on January 15, when the NRA had to flee into bankruptcy. The so proud, supposedly all-powerful NRA bankrupt? The many opponents could hardly believe it and could not hide their glee, while Wayne LaPierre immediately tried to appease that the NRA was by no means insolvent and as a lobby as strong as ever. The sole purpose of the bankruptcy is to initiate the move out of “politically poisoned New York” in order to launch the big new start in Texas, which is much more gun-friendly.

In fact, LaPierre is primarily trying to get away from a woman who could be more dangerous to him and his NRA than the new president: Letitia James, 62, holds a doctorate in law, fellow student of Vice President Kamala Harris and, since 2019, the first black attorney general in New York. As early as 2018, the Democrat had assured James during the election campaign for this office that she would go to the gun lobby. And she did. It could because the NRA is a charitable and therefore tax-exempt organization based in New York. And because she found the legal ammunition to do it: Wayne LaPierre's expenses.

In the 169-page complaint she filed in August 2020, the attorney general spreads the five-star life of 71-year-old LaPierre. His purchases in Zegna boutiques for $ 274,695 and 3 cents, luxury vacations with family and friends in the Caribbean or on Lake Como, a 6 million mansion in Texas. Everything at expense, apparently without control, and this along with a wage that has increased tenfold in ten years, to 2.2 million dollars. That didn't go down well with many of his gun friends either.

Now LaPierre and three other top people are charged with fraud and misappropriation of $ 64 million in donations. But the attorney general wants more, as she said when filing the lawsuit: “The NRA is fraught with fraud and abuse, which is why we are trying to resolve it today. Because no organization is above the law. " That was formulated relatively cautiously. In 2018, before taking office, Letitia James said in an interview: "The NRA considers itself a charitable organization, in fact it is a terrorist organization."

Citizens are arming like never before

The NRA attorneys have already tried to prevent the lawsuit, but a New York judge has since admitted them. What LaPierre does not deny: the expenses. He only claims that his long-time PR agency instigated him to do this, which they vehemently deny. She is now driving a sharp campaign against the previous client. There was also a lot of trouble with his Chief of Staff, Joshua Powell. He initially carried everything with him, digging deep into the expense fund himself, but when LaPierre dismissed him in January 2020, he retaliated with a revelation book about "Corruption, greed and paranoia in America's most powerful political group".

The National Rifle Association has "lost the aura of its invincibility", summarized the "New York Times", but one should not be fooled. The largest gun lobby in the country may be dismantling itself, but the citizens are arming themselves like never before. In the 2020 election year, Americans bought more rifles and pistols than ever. On January 6, 2021, on the very day the Capitol was forcibly stormed, the NRA announced a “great record” on Twitter: “In 2020, Americans bought 23 million firearms, and 8.4 million of these patriots bought a weapon for the first time . " In the first half of 2020, the number of arms sales rose by 95 percent compared to the same period in the previous year, and ammunition sales (for the NRA, “the seeds of freedom”) rose by 139 percent. The demand was so great that Walmart temporarily stopped sales because the company feared riots around the presidential elections. There are now around 400 million privately owned weapons across the country, including 18 million of the particularly popular semi-automatic AR 15.

And why this massive private armament? The "anti-gun candidate" Biden, the "Black Lives Matter" riots in the cities and the fear of a pandemic-related lockdown of the gun shops have "conjured up a perfect storm as we have never seen it before," said Joe Bartozzi. Head of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, at the presentation of these figures.

Actually, 2021 should not have been the year of the struggle for survival, but rather the big anniversary for “the largest civil rights movement in the world”, as the NRA likes to call itself. She will be 150 years old in November. It was founded in 1871 by two Union veterans, six years after the end of the bloody civil war. Following the British model, they wanted to teach American hunters and marksmen the trade better, and interference in politics was still a long way off. The largest shooting club in the world was a kind of mixture of a shooting school and a popular service club, always associated with a patriotic commitment. The fact that the NRA was linked to the Ku Klux Klan, as Michael Moore insinuated in his film "Bowling for Columbine", is just as wrong as the opposite claimed by the NRA, according to which they campaigned for the rights of freed slaves, writes Frank Smyth in his critical book on the history of the NRA.

In earlier years, the organization stood behind national weapons restrictions twice, namely in 1934 and - after the murders of the Kennedy brothers and Martin Luther King - in 1968. John F. Kennedy was the last Democratic president who was also a member of the NRA was, and the bitter irony of the story is that his killer Lee Harvey Oswald ordered the murder weapon through an advertisement in the popular association newspaper "American Rifleman".

The shooting club becomes a lobby

In the following years, however, the stance at the top of the NRA reversed radically. In 1977 there was a coup in which the old moderate leadership was replaced by people who from then on fought against even the smallest tightening of gun laws. The NRA became a lobby, its new boss was Harlon Carter, a former border guard from Texas who, at the age of 17, shot a 15-year-old Mexican in front of his house for suspecting him to be a burglar. The young Carter was convicted of murder, the first thing he did after his early release was to disband a lifetime membership and later to become a legend.

Carter's life is the stuff that the NRA heroes are made of. The organization spreads such stories almost daily about "brave and law-abiding citizens" who do not exercise vigilante justice, but only their constitutional right to self-defense. "Homeowner in Miami, Oklahoma Shoots Armed Burglar"; "Employee in an electronics store in Chicago, Illinois, shoots armed robbers"; "Homeowner in Lacombe, Louisiana, shoots two armed intruders and injures two others" - so reads the NRA's Chronicle of Heroes. "To stop a bad guy with a gun, you need a good guy with a gun," Wayne LaPierre says.

To kick off the year 2021, the NRA published a major interview with David George, a “sharp-shooting pastor” from Oakville, Washington, in one of their magazines, in which he describes how he found a thief after a wild shooting in a Walmart in the parking lot ("His eyes rolled back, I hit all five shots") and why he also carries his weapon in church services (because his churchgoers pleaded with him after a massacre in a Texas church that left 26 dead and 20 injured had).

The citizen's armed resistance against burglars and rapists is one thing. But what if it goes against the government? Is it against a government that many members and sympathizers of the NRA consider to be illegitimate? The NRA remained silent about the storming of the partly heavily armed mob on the Capitol, with five dead, while John Feinblatt and Shannon Watts from the influential lobby organization Everytown for Gun Safety wrote shortly afterwards in an article: «No organization has done more to defend the rights radicalize and arm as the National Rifle Association. " And the two also add a lot of evidence of how the exponents of the NRA have been rhetorically arming and fueling the resistance for decades. It begins with the spread of conspiracy theories, such as the one that someday UN blue helmets would disarm the righteous American people. And it ends with the crucial point that Wayne LaPierre made in his book “Guns, Crime and Freedom” in 1994: “The second amendment clearly states that people have the right - must have - to take all necessary measures, including violence take to overthrow an oppressive government. "

A year later, in April 1995, LaPierre criticized a ten-year import ban on assault weapons enforced by Bill Clinton - and supported by then Senator Joe Biden - arguing that "it only gives evil government thugs with Nazi helmets more power to steal our rights into ours." Breaking in houses, stealing our weapons, destroying our property and even killing us ». After these sentences it became too much for the former Republican President George Bush senior, he resigned from the NRA in public protest. Another acted six days later. Right-wing extremist Timothy McVeigh, who had sent a letter to a Democratic congressman marked "I am the NRA" back in 1992, blew up a federal building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people.

In 2015, the NRA recommended to its five million followers on Facebook an article by well-known Second Amendment blogger Bob Owens, who warned under the image of a gallows: “We do not want a civil war against the radical left wing of the Democratic Party. But if they start one, they will end up being totally destroyed by the armed free citizens, as our founding fathers intended. "

On January 4, 2021, two days before a partly heavily armed mob stormed the Capitol, LaPierre wrote in a sales letter: «Dear friend of freedom, if you do not start fighting right now, you will soon face the threat that your weapons will be forcibly confiscated and with it your right to self-defense. I'm talking about armed government officials storming your house, taking your guns and throwing you in jail. "

Pray for the victims of the many massacres

The influence of the NRA is not primarily a question of money. In 2016 and 2020 she officially donated a good $ 3 million and indirectly $ 30 million for Donald Trump and his party. But these are peanuts compared to the official sums with which the pharmaceutical industry (233 million) or the tech industry (118 million) lobby in American politics. Rather, the power of the gun lobby lies in the ardent commitment of its supporters, as the lawyer and author Adam Winkler once said to the “New Yorker”.

Many of them feel they are on the front lines in the "battle for the soul of America" ​​(Joe Biden), and the NRA is doing everything possible to keep them on the right side.

But the weapon-critical camp has also grown significantly stronger. Originally a disparate grassroots movement, the professional lobby Everytown for Gun Safety, for example, invests more money in individual election campaigns than the gun lobby, even if it is still a long way from the NRA's 300 million annual budget. The main sponsor of Everytown - and therefore a big target of the NRA - has been billionaire Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York and unsuccessful Democratic presidential candidate, who donated not only $ 156 million for his party in 2020, but Everytown another 60 Millions of dollars, exclusively for the fight for stricter gun laws.

But here, too, money is not everything. Much more than Bloomberg's millions, the mobilization power is likely to have grown through the many massacres, from Columbine High School in 1999 to Dayton and El Paso in 2019. These rampages stir up the public far more than the annual statistics of 40,000 Firearms killed. Even Donald Trump faltered in February 2018 after a slaughter that left 17 dead at a high school in Parkland, Florida, and considered stepping up security checks on weapons purchases. Highly alarmed by this, Wayne LaPierre immediately went to the president and reminded him of how loyal the organization had been to him, a lifetime NRA member. Trump then tipped over and, in LaPierre's spirit, suggested equipping teachers with weapons in the future. "You should still get an annual bonus for it," tweeted the president. Florida has since allowed teachers to carry weapons in class.

No matter how many people die in shopping malls and schools, the NRA never wanted to do much more than pray. She is also categorically opposed to further security checks as a prerequisite for the purchase of weapons, because she fears that even the smallest compromise is the beginning of the end of the right to one's own weapon. In 1993, such background checks were introduced by the FBI, again with the help of the then Senator Biden, and are now mandatory in 22 of the 50 member states. The Democratic majority in the House of Representatives has been calling for nationwide expansion since February 2019, but so far the lobbying of the NRA with the Republicans has been so successful that the issue has not even been put on the agenda in the Senate. No wonder, given that 98.37 percent of their congressional donation list are Republicans.

But no longer all gun owners who vote Republican are automatically friends of the NRA. There is no other explanation for the fact that 80 to 90 percent of the population in surveys are in favor of nationwide background checks. Companies, too, are increasingly starting to distance themselves from the NRA under pressure from their customers; various airlines, banks and insurance companies have canceled their discounts for NRA members. "Political cowardice," was LaPierre's reply.

And now? Everyone's waiting for Biden. The “NRA's worst nightmare,” as the Moms Demand Action movement exults. The hope is as great here as the anger over there, especially since Joe Biden and Kamala Harris presented a 35-point plan to “end the gun violence epidemic” during the election campaign, which goes far beyond background checks across the country. Among other things, the new president wants to ban the sale of new offensive weapons and high-capacity magazines.

“Joe Biden and his gang of anti-gun politicians have promised to take your guns. Help us to defend freedom! », Meanwhile the NRA calls on its sympathizers as if it were the last stand. The sequel should soon follow in the country with its 400 million firearms.