The Money in Mass Shootings
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The shooting at the Pulse Night Club in Orlando, Florida, left the nation in shock. It was the deadliest shooting in American history, and how someone bent on terrorism was allowed to slip through the cracks is a puzzle to many. But every time horrific shootings like this happen, voices asking questions like “How did this happen” or “How can we prevent this in the future” are becoming quieter and quieter. Americans are slowly becoming numb to the violence. In fact, politicians across America are pushing for looser gun laws in the wake of national tragedies. With mass shootings happening with alarming frequency, who do we have to blame? The forces that have steered America on its path towards this perverted new normal aren’t in it for nothing. In every mass shooting, there are massive profits at stake for gun manufacturers and distributors. So when there’s a mass shooting, what do these companies do?
Enter the National Rifle Association (NRA). Beginning in 1871, the NRA’s original purpose was that of a membership organization made to spread gun safety. Today, they function more like a trade organization. Whenever a mass shooting occurs, they act as the face of the gun industry. Essentially, they are the gun lobby. Armed with a few million active members and sizable donations from corporations like Smith & Wesson and Beretta, the NRA has become one of the most effective political forces in American history. Whenever new gun legislation is proposed that might put a leash on the gun industry, the NRA quickly calls its members to arms. Flooding politicians offices with calls, waves of advertisements, and lawsuits are common tactics used to quell attempts at gun control. For politicians at the state and national levels, this is a terrifying force to reckon with.
Mass shootings present a dangerous catch 22 for the gun control lobby, and a massive financial opportunity for the NRA and its corporate members. Months after the Pulse Nightclub shooting, gun sales spiked by up to 60%. This is because mass shootings spark a push for gun reform. Whenever gun control legislation is proposed, it creates a “run on guns”. Gun enthusiasts feel pressured to buy as much as they can before laws can be passed, and they go into overdrive mode when it comes to fighting gun reform. This is a common occurrence in the world of gun legislation. “Gun runs” happen after almost every mass shooting.
Numerous attempts have been made to curb the power of the NRA. Organizations like Everytown for Gun Safety frequently stage protests to denounce the NRA. Public demonstrations like “die ins” are a common occurrence outside of the NRA building. These efforts have yielded minimal success, though. Gun purchases are at an all time high. There are an estimated 300 million guns. That’s nearly enough for every man, woman, and child in America.