For years Americans have been living under a form of tyrannical rule that the majority don’t believe in or want. The majority of Americans think there should be laws enacted to enhance conditions that the tyranny has created, unfortunately, the people who are elected to represent these Americans aren’t listening to them. They are listening to an organization they fear far more than the wrath of the voters who elected them, an organization whose tyrannical rule has the power to dictate political life or political death for elected officials. But events following this year’s Valentine’s Day massacre are changing that, finally, it’s the end of the beginning and the beginning of the end to tyrannical rule in America.
The tyrannical ruler is the National Rifle Association (NRA), America’s pre-eminent 2ndamendment and gun rights advocate. The group was founded in 1871 as a recreational group designed to “promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis”. The NRA’s path into political lobbying began in 1934 when it began mailing members with information about upcoming firearms bills. The association supported two major gun control acts, the National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA) and the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA), but became more politically active in the 1970s.
In 1975, it began attempting to influence policy directly by creating a lobbying arm, the Institute for Legislative Action, and in 1977 it started its own Political Action Committee (PAC) to give money directly to elected officials.
Since that time it has successfully blocked federal legislation and action on things like government-funded gun violence research and a proposed assault weapons ban. It believes they threaten gun owners’ second amendment rights. The NRA consistently ignores the public sentiment expressed in a new Quinnipiac poll released Tuesday.
It found that two-thirds of American voters support stricter gun control, reaching the highest level in the poll’s history. There was the near-universal support for background checks, with 97% of the general public and 97% of gun owners supporting them. That number rose slightly from November 2017, when 95% of American voters overall and 94% of voters in gun-owning households supported background checks.
The poll also found that 67% of Americans support a nationwide assault weapons ban, support that has consistently risen over the last five years. In 2013, only 56% of voters said they supported an assault weapons ban. A Washington Post-ABC News poll, conducted in the days after the Florida shooting, found that 58% of Americans believed stricter gun control could have prevented the massacre. The poll also found that 77% of Americans thought better mental health resources could have prevented the suspect, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, from going on his rampage.
Polling data from the Pew Research Center in 2017 showed that overwhelming majorities of Americans favored barring people with mental illnesses from purchasing guns. They also favor closing the so-called “gun show loophole” that allows people to buy guns without background checks through private sales and gun shows.
None of this support by Americans makes a difference to Congresspersons, Senators or State Legislators. Their only concern is what their NRA rating will be and how much support or lack of support it means the NRA will contribute to their campaign.
The NRA spends millions influencing Congress and the White House to advance its no gun control agenda. In 2016 they contributed $1,085,150 directly to candidates, spent $3,188,000 lobbying and spent $54,398,558 running ad campaigns for and against candidates as well as gun policy issues. With this ammunition, the NRA has erected a wall blocking all threats to the rights of gun owners or to their political control of the gun control issue.
A wall so thick that it blocks common sense laws like if a person is on a no-fly list they can’t buy a gun, or if a person is at a private gun show they still need to have a background check before buying a gun. It’s a wall that has held firm against all gun control attempts, even those made by the then-most powerful person in the country former President Barak Obama. But then last week a big crack appeared in the wall and it’s growing deeper and wider every day.
All right-thinking Americans were horrified by the massacre that took place in Parkland, Florida at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day. Unfortunately, it was not the first time that a mentally deranged person had gone into an American school and murdered innocent children. Following this shooting, it seemed that there would be the same shocked, horrified, disgusted but no policy or no law change reaction as there had been to all the other school shootings.
The student’s intensity continued the following Wednesday at the CNN Town Hall meeting that included parents of victims, student survivors and other community officials from Parkland, Fla.
Cameron Kasky, a student survivor of the Florida school shooting, standing face to face with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) challenged him as other students clapped, “Can you tell me you won’t take a single donation from the NRA?” It was riveting and even raucous at some points. The dramatic moments were all special since teenagers were the ones putting Rubio and others on the spot to respond to their questions, following up and pressing them when they avoided giving full answers.
The NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch, of course, conceded nothing and stuck to the false misleading talking points of the NRA, but student power is beginning to work on Florida’s elected officials. Rubio told students that night he would change his position and now support raising the age limit on the AR-15 rifle, the one used in the shooting, to 21, and he said that he was changing his position to yes on banning the use of high-capacity magazines.
As important as the Rubio change was, the real crack in the NRA wall came Thursday the following day, when First National Bank of Omaha announced via tweet that it would not renew its contract to issue the NRA Visa Card. It was responding to a tweet saying “Please END your relationship with the @NRA. #NRABloodOnYourHands.” The bank said “customer feedback” spurred it to review its relationship. Customer feedback spurred on by the students Saturday rally and their CNN Town Hall meeting.
Later that evening Enterprise Holdings, which owns and operates car rental agencies Alamo, Enterprise and National, announced via tweets from each brand’s account that by March 26 it would sever its NRA member discount program.
One day later, Symantec, the cybersecurity company, said it had halted its NRA discount program. An hour after that, insurance company MetLife followed suit, tweeting, “We value all our customers but have decided to end our discount program with the NRA.” Florida Governor and NRA member Rick Scott, joined the party, by announcing a plan that breaks with the NRA, it would raise the state’s minimum age to buy firearms, bar “violent or mentally ill” people from purchasing weapons and prohibit the purchase or sale of bump stocks. By Saturday Delta and United Airlines, both joined a growing list of companies distancing themselves from the NRA. Both said they would no longer offer discounts to members.
This is the first time ever that any company has reacted like this after any mass shooting, and it’s due solely to the reaction and threatened protest activity of the students. It’s their power that’s fueling the different reaction this time.
New York University marketing professor Scott Galloway says the companies are making a smart business move to protect their brand. “The most valuable person in the world of consumer business is an 18-year-old. They have influence over what the rest of us believe is ‘cool’ and have a lifetime of discretionary spending ahead of them,” Galloway told NBC News. “Their recent galvanization against the issue has made the NRA very uncool and an easy target for firms wanting to say to the most important cohort ‘Hey, we get it, and are with you.’”
The Parkland high school students stepping up unlike students ever have before after a school shooting, is the game changer like it was for America’s Civil Rights Movement when Birmingham’s high school students stood up to the fire hoses and biting dogs. Their stepping up will force the country to follow their lead, what parent, sibling, aunt, uncle, cousin or friend will deny them support in their fight to be safe in school.
The initiative and boldness of the Parkland students have inspired high school students nationwide, they will all come together on March 24 at a “March for Our Lives” march on Washington.
For those who are wondering will this shooting be different, will anything change this time? Based on the reaction of America’s future leadership generation, watching as they replay history right before our eyes, I can guarantee that it is and will be. At the students Saturday rally we witnessed the end of the beginning to reclaim America’s soul from the NRA gun tyrants. On March 24 as students march on Washington we will witness the beginning of the end to the NRA’s tyrannical stranglehold on America’s democratic process, returning us to a time on the issue of guns in America when we are governed by citizen majority rule and not special interest might!
Isaac Newton Farris Jr. is the nephew of Martin Luther King, Jr. and serves as Senior Fellow at the King Center. Growing up in one of the most socially and politically active families has given him a unique perspective on current events. Drop by his website for straight talk free of one-sided political spin.
Originally published at isaacnewtonfarris.com on February 26, 2018.