Pushing Back Against The NRA

nraPushing Back Against The NRA

Shots rang out and bullets tore through walls, other objects, and people. Terrified, seventeen-year-old Hannah Carbocci huddled beneath a teacher’s desk in her classroom at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. As Nikolas Cruz, a former student only two years older than Hannah, allegedly walked through the school hurting and killing students and teachers with an AR-15 assault rifle, Hannah sent text messages to her sister, Kaitlin: “kaitlin there is a shooter on campus,” “kaitlin i am not joking they just shot through the walls someone in my class is injured,” “i am so scared.”

Hannah Carbocci came away, unscathed, from this massacre on Valentine’s Day. Others weren’t so lucky, including the seventeen who lost their lives. The death toll likely would have been higher had Cruz’s gun not jammed while he still had one hundred and eighty unfired rounds.

After each mass shooting, those frustrated with the violence call for stricter gun laws, ranging from more thorough background checks to outlawing certain types of firearms and related equipment. Each time, these calls are met with resistance from the NRA and from pro-gun politicians, mostly in the Republican Party.

The National Rifle Association, commonly called the NRA, is a gun-rights organization founded in 1871. With about five million members, the group advocates for what it considers American’s right to bear arms. While the NRA has long had its critics, the increase in mass shootings in recent years has intensified the outcry against it. In the wake of the shooting in Parkland, multiple companies have officially cut ties with the organization. Enterprise Holdings, the parent company of Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Alamo Rent a Car, and National Car Rental will cease offering NRA-member discounts. Avis Budget Group, owner of Avis and Budget Rent a Car, and Hertz committed to do the same. The First National Bank of Omaha chose not to renew its contract to issue the NRA Visa card. Other companies which have severed ties with the gun-rights group are Symantec, TrueCar, MetLife, SimpliSafe, Sirva (parent company of Allied and North American), Delta Airlines, United Airlines, Paramount RX, and hearing-aid maker Starkey.

With students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and other schools across the nation advocating for gun control, lawmakers turned their attention to the issue. Senator Jeff Flake (Republican – Arizona) is seeking to pass a law to raise, from eighteen to twenty-one, the minimum age required to purchase certain types of semi-automatic rifles. President Trump indicated he would support laws requiring better background checks for gun buyers and outlawing bump stocks, which essentially convert a semi-automatic gun into an automatic weapon. (The gunman in the recent Las Vegas mass shooting had used such a device.)

While the recent school shooting is forcing those on Capitol Hill to consider new measures to keep children and the rest of us safe, success is far from guaranteed. The NRA will not reconsider its position, choosing to frame the issue as a problem with people, rather than a problem with guns, and it contributes huge amounts of money to lawmakers. When challenged by Parkland survivors, Senator Marco Rubio (Republican – Florida) declined to comment regarding refusing contributions from the NRA. Even Democrats have not always come down on the side of gun control. In 2013, after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, some Dems joined Republicans to block a bill which would have required universal background checks for potential gun buyers. It will be a hard road, but it is necessary for lawmakers to implement sensible gun-control legislation.