Since the election we have learned about the changing demographics in our country (more diversity in our future) and the static demographics of the Republican Party (lots of older, white faces). That uneven dynamic is having a powerful impact on the gun-control debate.
Think about it: Most of the guns in the U.S. are owned by older, white, Republican men (according to Gallup). The NRA is run by white men. Congress is run by white men, mostly. I would guess that the majority of gun manufacturers are white men, too.
What do the people who are hoarding guns and bullets have in common with the people who are blocking passage of gun-control legislation (and are so scared they can’t even allow debate on the topic)? They are both part of a shrinking subset of older white men, who are panicking in the face of a changing world and a probable loss of power.
We should not let a few fading politicians and some fear-mongering, overpaid lobbyists frame the discussion. The majority of Americans — 91 percent of adults and 88 percent of gun owners — want gun control, particularly universal background checks.
The NRA has only 4.5 million members. That’s less than 2 percent of our total population. They are far outnumbered by, say, the 40 million AARP members or the 40 million immigrants. (Hmm, do you think that last number scares Wayne LaPierre and John Boehner a little?)
Ignore the NRA, which is primarily a lobbying arm for the gun industry. (The NRA used to support universal background checks; now it just supports universal gun sales.) The NRA wants to keep us defeated, paranoid and clamoring for guns: “Security” for us, profits for the weapons industry, bigger donations to the NRA.
But buying a gun won’t give you any more security. A gun owner has a much greater risk of suffering a violent death or injury because of that gun (suicides, accidents, domestic abuse) than of foiling a crime with that gun.
The gun-control majority must claim its power and speak up. Loudly. Demand that Congress reject the NRA and its tainted money, and instead pass some real gun control.
We have the power of the vote on our side (plus a financial blast from New York Mayor Bloomberg’s wallet!). We need to aim that power in the right direction and scare the NRA, not let the NRA scare us.