Surprise: The NRA has actually lost influence on gun control
In the wake of the tragic shooting in Tucson, Arizona, earlier this month, the calls for gun-control legislation have already begun. But the National Rifle Association's traditional ability to shoot these bills down may be significantly reduced in the future.
After the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007, when 32 people were slaughtered by a mentally disturbed young man wielding two semi-automatic pistols, calls for enhanced gun control were met with a warning from Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Sen. Reid cautioned against a “rush to judgment” about new gun laws.Skip to next paragraph
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Why the change?
The National Rifle Association was one of the big losers of the 2010 midterm elections.
This is so, even though 85 percent of its endorsed candidates won, and the percentage of gun-loving Senators and House members rose after the election.
The difference is that the NRA can no longer claim to be anything but an appendage of the Republican Party.
One of the key components of the NRA’s power has been the support of moderate and conservative Democrats. Even when the Democrats controlled Congress, there were more than enough pro-gun Democrats to vote with most Republicans and bat down any efforts at gun control.
NRA's historic reach with Democrats gone
Think back to March 2009, when a newly installed Obama administration, with strong majorities in the House and Senate might have contemplated reinstating the assault weapons ban. (The ban was implemented in 1994 under the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration let it expire in 2004). The NRA cracked the whip, and 65 House Democrats signed a letter declaring eternal opposition to such legislation.
Just two years later, only 26 of the signers of that letter are still in the House. Many got creamed this November, despite NRA support.
Of 50 key NRA-endorsed incumbent House Democrats, only 23 survived the midterms. Not only did most NRA Democrats lose, but NRA-endorsed losers made up half of all defeated House Democrats.
The NRA’s endorsement is about as useful to a Democrat as a duck decoy to a deer hunter.
What can the NRA do for any Democrat when it counts, on Election Day?