George HW Bush and General H. Norman Schwarzkopf understood the NRA for what it is 20 years ago, when they quit the organization in disgust. But far too many other Americans continued to go along with the NRA’s terrorist campaign against American streets, schools, theaters, and hospitals.
How I wish that it hadn’t taken the blood it has to get people awake to what this monstrous terror group has wrought upon us. But I am glad, nonetheless, that Americans of all varieties seem to be wising up to NRA terrorism.
Months before the massacre in Newtown, Conn., put the National Rifle Association on the defensive, the powerful gun rights group faced an unexpected problem. One of its most loyal Democratic friends in Congress was leading a rebellion against an NRA effort to hold Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in contempt of Congress, a cause viewed by Democrats as a political sideshow that had nothing to do with gun rights.
“This, my friends, is not a position I relish,” Rep. John D. Dingell (Mich.) wrote in an anguished letter urging fellow gun lovers to reject the NRA’s position.
Dingell’s rare show of defiance was seen by his colleagues as part of a growing estrangement between the NRA and its Democratic allies, who have provided vital support in the past and could be important again next year in what appears to be a coming showdown over gun rights. With public pressure building on Congress to act, the NRA will need Democratic votes to block or weaken legislation, particularly in the Senate.
While the NRA devoted most of its national campaign efforts this year to supporting Republicans and opposing President Obama, the group has historically gained its clout in Washington by nurturing close ties to lawmakers in both parties, particularly those from rural areas who have counted on the NRA’s blessing to get elected.
But several recent factors have altered that calculus. And, with the horror of the Newtown school shootings forcing gun control back onto the national agenda, a decline in the NRA’s traditional bipartisan strength provides gun-control advocates with what they see as their best prospects in nearly two decades.
For one, many rural Democrats lost their seats in the past two congressional elections. Political battlegrounds have also shifted away from those rural areas to the suburbs, where the NRA holds less sway and there is more appetite for restrictions on guns. And Democrats are looking increasingly at the NRA as an arm of the Republican Party, pointing specifically to the Holder contempt vote this year and the group’s 2009 opposition to Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor as key turning points.
“I worry the NRA has become a captive of the Republican Party at a time that it needs Democratic votes,” said Rep. Gene Green (D-Tex.), who has had a top rating from the NRA but joined Dingell in opposing the censure of Holder. “In the long run it will be weakened.”
Aside from the group’s problem with Democrats, it faces a threat to its immense money advantage from billionaire New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (I), who has started to back candidates who are taking on NRA allies.
Bloomberg is doing good work here. His fight is the right one. I am going to be a contributor to Mayors Against Illegal Guns myself, and I recommend it to everyone. Bloomberg, like most of the rest of us, is sick and tired of an atmosphere so poisoned by a terrorist organization that we can’t even have a reasonable discussion on this issue. I want that discussion, and I’ll back whoever wants to have the discussion, whatever his political stripe may be.
We’ve lost far too many people now to NRA terror. It’s time for these terrorists to be rolled back.