There is a lot of useless rhetoric that flies back and forth in the gun debate in this country. Both sides lob simple minded one liners at each other that are about as effective as a .22 against level III body armor. The Mainstream Media riles up the gun lovers by featuring the opinions of mental giants like Piers Morgan and Dianne Feinstein. And gun “nuts” retort with tired phrases about cold dead hands and gun free zones. Nobody changes their minds, and very little is accomplished by either side.
For those who feel spurred into real effort through legislative action, protest or some other form of activism, it’s an uphill climb to say the least. Getting people organized and tuned in long enough to accomplish anything of value is incredibly difficult. It does happen, but it’s far less common than the usual result which is a lot of fervor that quickly dissipates in the face of the relentless responsibilities of everyday life. It’s very difficult to keep people engaged, even when our liberties are under constant attack.
I was having a conversation with a colleague of mine several months ago who is extremely anti-gun. She doesn’t even talk about “common sense” gun laws. She wants every gun banned and confiscated. Talking to people like this is difficult because it’s extremely challenging to find some common ground as a starting point for the conversation. Naturally the conversation eventually veered into, “The NRA is everything that is wrong with this country,” territory. Ah yes, the evil NRA. I asked her a simple question, “Where does the NRA get it’s money?” She paused, then with a snarky tone she replied, “Well the gun manufacturers give them money.” This is a little bit more than half true.
The NRA takes small fortunes from companies in the gun industry through a variety of contributions. According to BusinessInsider.com, the NRA has drastically ramped up it’s solicitation of money from the industry over the last decade. It has used this money to become one of the largest lobbyists in the country. It’s well known that politicians fear the NRA and their wrath if they “step out of line” and the NRA relentlessly exploits that kind of clout to do what it does, which is to effectively lobby for gun rights. Say what you will about the NRA, but no other group carries that kind of weight.
But when we talk about the NRA, it’s easy to forget the other side of that equation, the gun industry itself. This industry doesn’t just print new money and give it to the NRA. There is a reason they have that kind of money to give. Gun sales have steadily risen as the gun control rhetoric in Washington has heated up. 2015 set a new record for background checks, topping out at over 23 million. Let that sink in for a minute. 23,000,000 background checks. In one year. To say that this is a booming business is an understatement to say the least.
And that is just firearms. There is no real tracking of the money that is spent in the industry on parts and accessories. If I were a betting man, and I am, I’d wager that the amount of money spent on tactical widgets, zombie killing ammo and operator beard oil at least equals the dollars spent on serialized receivers. We are talking about a staggering amount of money. My credit card balances concur.
It’s fair to say that every dollar spent at Cabela’s on overpriced .223, every credit card receipt emailed to you from Brownells, every Fedex package that arrives at your door marked ORM-D that you deftly sneak past your wife as she is making dinner, every forgotten bolt carrier group that hides in your gun drawer, every 4473 that your FFL enthusiastically slaps on the counter as you fondle that new Tavor that you have been trying to ignore, every holster you ever bought and used once, all of it goes to support the cause….it all matters. The sheer size of this industry is what gives it its massive political inertia. 23 million background checks speaks for itself.
The anti-gun crowd doesn’t seem to grasp this. You can have your Million Mom March, your Moms Demand Action, your Mayors Against Illegal Guns, etc. But nobody, not even Mayor Bloomberg, is dropping the kind of money to promote gun control that we are spending every single year on guns.
The media hints at this issue, but almost by accident. They never seem to connect that the amount of money spent in this business reflects the political will of the people in this country. Obama wants you to believe that 90% of Americans support stronger background checks. I’m sorry, I don’t believe you Mr. President. I believe the growth of Smith and Wesson’s stock. I believe the fact that 4 or 5 new gun shops have opened in my town in the last 3 years. I believe the growth of the firearms training market. I believe 23 million background checks.
I’m not trying to tell you how to live your life, but when you are sitting in front of your computer at 2AM trying to justify spending $500 on yet another Glock (this time it’s ghost grey!) remember that your money isn’t going into a black hole. Participating in this market is a kind of activism in and of itself.