The More We See Them…. the less….
Self-destruction by media exposure is a common thing, especially for right wing American politicians. That list is long. Soon, it appears, we will be adding the NRA to it.
There are some fascinating angles here and not just from the bizarre “Enemies List” that has surfaced (Mike Myers’s former wife is an enemy to be feared by the NRA? So is Vinny Testaverde?).
I’m particularly taken with the way that a relatively tiny group has gained control of the NRA, a venerable organization that was once concerned with hunting and safety issues, and has now become an exceedingly shrill mouthpiece for a shady little industry that peddles death.
2012 stats for the industry, show sales of 1,425,500 rifles, 777,125 shotguns, 889,125 pistols and 352,625 revolvers. $11.7 billion in sales. 35,000 people are employed by the industry’s 465 gun and ammo manufacturers. 32 percent of US households now own a gun. There are more than 50,000 retail gun dealers.
To put that in perspective, the US market for Wine is now around $30 Billion, for footwear, around $48 Billion, for Beer, something close to $196 Billion and Tobacco around $75 Billion.
The NRA has a 76 strong Board of Directors, heavily larded with genuine right wing extremists. Robert Brown, publisher of Soldier of Fortune Magazine is one. Ted Nugent, tasteless one time rocker, is another. There are multiple links on one side to the firearms industry, and on the other to militias, right wing skinhead groups, even the KKK.
None of this fits with the lingering image of Charlton Heston hefting his antique Kentucky long rifle and intoning …”from my cold, dead hands.”
Instead, it conjures up a crazed, probably racist white nut job, cradling a semi-auto, AR-15 based, military style, “fun” gun, with 25 round magazine in place and some others on his belt.
What is interesting is that apparently, on average, only seven percent of the NRA’s membership ever votes in the group’s elections. And the nine-person Nominating Committee holds effective control over whoever will get a shot at being elected to that Board of Directors.
So, who really controls this weird lobby creature?
That seems to be hard to discover. Most of the 76 Directors are there for show. A few, those with the industry links are there to control the money pipeline. A handful, like Nugent, are good at grabbing headlines.
And there lies the Achilles heel of this odd monster of the American psyche. As long as the NRA was something that most people associated with hunting and fishing and gun safety courses for youngsters, well, it was okay. A bit strange, perhaps, like venison meatloaf, or a house heavily decorated with the heads of dead animals. More about flyover country and Texas than where most Americans live and work. Something that Uncle Elmo was into, and you always prayed that he wouldn’t show up at Thanksgiving, especially with the venison.
But now, with Wayne LaPierre regularly scoring headlines for massive political obtuseness and downright nastiness — like calling the President a hypocrite because his daughters have Secret Service protection, just like any other recent president’s kids — a new dynamic is at work.
Charlton Heston is fading out. Crazy Ted Nugent has replaced him.
And, guaranteed, the more Nugent and LaPierre show up on national TV, mouthing bizarre, often threatening verbiage, the less Americans in general will like them.