Sat Feb 2, 2013, 10:10 AM
kpete (42,085 posts)
The NRA vs. America (Rolling Stone)
The NRA vs. America
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 firearm 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…"
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The NRA vs. America (Rolling Stone) (Original post)
|The Blue Flower||Feb 2013||#4|