If we want to get serious about gun violence, both Republicans and Democrats will have to change


MINOT, N.D. — The problem with the debate over gun violence, and gun control, is that it’s a culture war issue.

The National Rifle Association bears some blame for this. That group didn’t choose to make itself a target of crusading progressive activists, but they’ve certainly leaned into the role, allowing itself to become a de facto arm of the Republican Party and is led, as National Review’s Kevin Williamson puts it , by people who want to be Fox News pundits.

It’s a shame. The NRA was once a bipartisan organization wielding the most authentic sort of truly grassroots influence. Contrary to certain popular notions banded about in the popular press, the NRA has never been a big spender on lobbying or campaign contributions.

“In the 2020 cycle, the NRA was not among the top 1,000 political donors or among the top 250 in lobbying outlays,” Williamson notes. The group has fallen on hard times of late, sure, but “even back in 2012 it was No. 301 among campaign contributors and only No. 181 on lobbying outlays.”

The power of the NRA comes from the fact that it represents millions upon millions of Americans who support the Second Amendment. The NRA exists because of those people, not the other way around, and those voters are why pro-gun lawmakers are in office, too.

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