NRA High Caliber Lobbying Bags Big Legislative Wins in the States Over Past Two Decades
In state capitals and city halls nationwide, the National Rifle Association is demonstrating its enduring ability to thwart new firearms regulations and expand rights for gun owners even after a school massacre in Newtown, Conn., gave the gun control cause new momentum.
Just last week, Illinois state House members declined to consider proposed limits on assault weapons amid a surge of negative phone calls and e mails from NRA members and other gun owners. In Wisconsin last week, legislators wary of provoking the NRA backed off a proposed ban on loaded firearms in the public gallery overlooking the state assembly chamber. In suburban Los Angeles, Glendale City Council members anticipate a packed and emotional meeting next week as a result of NRA issued alerts protesting proposed limits on gun shows. And legislators in at least seven states are weighing whether to allow public school staff members to carry weapons to work.
The local and state level skirmishes underscore the obstacles that await President Obama and congressional Democrats as they prepare to push new gun control measures in the face of stiff opposition from the NRA and its Capitol Hill allies many of whom represent areas where gun ownership is a cherished value.
Gun rights advocates suffered a setback in the immediate aftermath of the Newtown shootings when Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) vetoed a bill that would have allowed concealed weapons in sc Nike Air Max hools, day care centers and other public places. Another defeat came this week, when New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) approved new bans on assault weapons and high capacity ammunition clips. It was only by moving with extraordinary speed that the state prevented the NRA from mounting its ty Nike Air Max pically muscular opposition.
The group and its allies, confident in their traditional ability to influence congressional action, consider state capitals the prime battlegrounds and are planning to shore up their influence where they may be vulnerable, such as Maryland and other Democratic led states.
Many lawmakers naturally embrace and applaud the NRA aggressive defense of gun rights. Even legislative opponents speak in admiring terms of the group organizational skills, which they say can outmatch the most powerful interest groups chambers of commerce, medical associations and police federations.
Obama acknowledged the importance of the NRA base as he presented his proposals Wednesday, saying that success in Congress would require support from in those areas and those congressional districts where the tradition of gun ownership is strong. NRA and its vast network of local affiliates a Nike Air Max chieve their success through a mix of skilled local lobbying and voter mobilization. Annual report cards rate legislators on an A to F scale based on voting records, and the group sends millions of blaze orange postcards during campaigns to tout its friends or attack its enemies. As a reward to those with high grades, the NRA provides endorsements and campaign support. It also offers friendly lawmakers access to legal counsel and legislative research.
The organization, which has an annual budget of more than $200 million, directs campaign donations to its supporters in both parties, with contributions to federal campaigns totaling about $20 million in 2012, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Comprehensive figures for state campaigns were not av Nike Air Max ailable.
But NRA officials and lawmakers on both sides say the group power stems mostly from its ability to activate its passionate membership.
With an e mail alert system designed to target its 4.2 million members, the NRA can mobilize hundreds of gun owners in every community on short notice to turn out at a committee hearing or a city council meeting.
they do well is they really get people out, said Illinois state Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D), who heads the House committee that was to consider the assault weapons ban until gun owners, spurred by the local NRA affiliate, overwhelmed legislators with calls and e mails. democracy. I can fault them for it. I have to applaud them for it. who supports the proposed ban, said her office received hundreds of phone messages and about 1,000 e mails in the two days before she pulled the bill. didn see anything that was supportive, she said.
The response resulted in part from work done by the NRA local affiliate, the Illinois State Rifle Association, which e mailed its 20,000 members and contacted other gun owners statewide.
base is passionate, and it big, said Richard A. Pearson, executive director of the group. NRA is so powerful because millions of people in the United States think the NRA is doing the right thing. post Newtown efforts by gun rights activists follow two decades of success in transforming the policy and political landscape from the ground up. With the debate largely at a stand off in Washington over the past 20 years, state after state has expanded gun owners rights, rolling back restrictions and, in many places, allowing people to bring guns onto college campuses, school grounds and the property owned by their employers.