NRA Uses Gun Violence to Maximize Profits

Financial FAQs

How can we believe the National Rifle Association opposes gun violence when every mass murder committed with guns is answered by the NRA’s call to buy more weapons? There have been 3 mass killings by crazed gunmen just over the past week, and the gun industry’s reponse via the NRA is that guns don’t kill people, people kill people.

The latest attempt by the gun industry to boost sales is to compete with a Washington State ballot initiative that limits gun sales. Initiative 594 would require universal background checks, whereas their Initiative 591 bars universal background checks. Guess which one is backed by the gun industry? So restricting gun sales via universal background checks won’t stop the killers? Really?

It means those gun makers who fund the NRA are directly responsible for the bizarre mass shootings that have discriminately killed so many children and adults. Their only answer has been to blame the victims who hadn’t purchased guns (with high capacity magazines) for not being ‘cocked and ready’ when a crazed gunman commits mayhem.

Yet large capacity ammunition magazines are the common thread uniting all of the high-profile mass shootings in America, according to the Washington DC Violence Policy Center that listed the mind-numbing results—42 mass killings from 1984 to June 2013, with 380 killed and 365 wounded by the gunmen. Two of the shooters used assault rifles with 75-round high capacity drum magazines enabling the huge body count.

The shooter who killed 20 children and 7 adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012 equipped his assault weapon with 30-round magazines, which enabled him to fire 154 rounds in less than five minutes.

The gunman in Tucson, Arizona who killed six people and injured 13 others, including U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, in a supermarket parking lot in 2011, used a handgun equipped with a 33-round magazine.  His shooting spree was only interrupted when he was tackled by a bystander as he finally stopped to reload his weapon.

We have to look at when gun manufacturers began to manufacture large magazine weapons in order to increase their profits for the origins of the mass killings. In fact, prior to the 1980s, the most popular type of handgun was the revolver, which typically holds six rounds of ammunition in a rotating cylinder. During the 1980s, however, the firearms industry began mass producing and marketing semiautomatic pistols, which can accept ammunition magazines.

In 1980, semiautomatic pistols accounted for only 32 percent of the 2.3 million handguns produced in America.9 By 2008, however, such pistols accounted for 76 percent of the 1.8 million handguns produced that year.

How has the gun industry been able to fool so many people for so long on the facts of gun violence? Factcheck.org points out how the NRA’s reflex response to any gun violence is to mount truly bizarre campaigns that deny any culpability for the mayhem.

The NRA’s response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School killing of 20 children and 7 adults is but one example. "We need to have every single school in America immediately deploy a protection program proven to work — and by that I mean armed security," said the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre just one week after the massacre.

Why would the NRA so blatantly ignore the revulsion felt by so many over the massacre? New Jersey Governor Chris Christy highlighted the callous absurdity of Wayne Lapierre’s response. “In general I don’t think that the solution to safety in schools is putting an armed guard because for it to be really effective in my view, from a law enforcement perspective, you have to have an armed guard at every classroom,” he said. “Because if you just have an armed guard at the front door then what if this guy had gone around to the side door? There’s many doors in and out of schools.”

So the gun industry would be much happier it they could sell every teacher a firearm that would have to be kept in every classroom to be an effective deterrent. That would really boost their profits!

The Sandy Hook massacre even caused the U.S. Senate to attempt to take action to tighten gun regulations with universal background checks, including for gun show and online sales. Yet it was still voted down because of a multi-million dollar lobbying campaign by the gun industry.

“I agree wholeheartedly with the goal of the NRA,” Joe Manchin, one of the bill’s sponsors. “I was surprised when the latest alert from the NRA was full of misinformation. … They are telling members that our legislation would criminalize the private transfer of firearms by honest, law-abiding citizens. … That is a lie.”

The Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence spells out the loopholes that allow gun sales to grow and gun companies to make even more profits. Online and gun show sales require no background checks, even though the Bureau of Tobacco and Firearms documents U.S. gun shows as a major source of bulk weapons’ sales to Mexican Drug Cartels.

The NRA’s excuses for Elliot Rogers Isla Vista, California, mass murder was that it was the result of California’s stringent gun regulation that prevents lawful citizens from owning guns. But that is an outright lie, as the California law only bans assault rifles with large magazine clips. California has banned the sale of Semi-automatic firearms that the state has classified as assault weapons, .50 BMG caliber rifles, and magazines that can hold more than ten rounds of

Since 2005, the gun industry and its corporate allies have given between $20 million and $52.6 million to the NRA through the NRA Ring of Freedom sponsor program. Donors include firearm companies like Midway USA, Springfield Armory Inc, Pierce Bullet Seal Target Systems, and Beretta USA Corporation. Other supporters from the gun industry include Cabala’s, Sturm Rugar & Co, and Smith & Wesson.

And industry profits have soared. According to the Christian Science Monitor, $6 billion in estimated revenue was earned by the US gun and ammunition manufacturing industry in 2012, according to a financial report by the research firm D&B First Research based in Austin, Texas. The major manufacturers include Browning Arms, Freedom Group, Olin, Aliant Tech Systems, Sturm, Ruger & Company, and Smith & Wesson.  The biggest companies are Ruger and Smith & Wesson, which represent about 30 percent of the industry.

The estimated number of guns in circulation in the United States as of 2009 was 310 million, according to a survey from the National Institute of Justice. That number includes 114 million handguns, 110 million rifles, and 82 million shotguns. The number of available guns has increased 62 percent since 1994, when there were about 192 million firearms in circulation. "Per capita, the civilian gun stock has roughly doubled since 1968, from one gun per every two persons to one gun per person," according to a report from the Congressional Research Service.

Need we say more to uncover the tactics used by gun manufactures to increase their profits, regardless of public safety concerns? The Brady Campaign’s numbers tell it all:

  • One in three people in the U.S. know someone who has been shot.
  • On average, 32 Americans are murdered with guns every day and 140 are treated for a gun assault in an emergency room.
  • Every day on average, 51 people kill themselves with a firearm, and 45 people are shot or killed in an accident with a gun.
  • The U.S. firearm homicide rate is 20 times higher than the combined rates of 22 countries that are our peers in wealth and population.
  • A gun in the home is 22 times more likely to be used to kill or injure in a domestic homicide, suicide, or unintentional shooting than to be used in self-defense.

Gun manufacturers and the NRA are maximizing profits at the expense of public safety. They have become in fact a danger to civil society, rather than protector of public safety.

Harlan Green © 2014

Follow Harlan Green on Twitter: https://twitter.com/HarlanGreen

About populareconomicsblog

Harlan Green is editor/publisher of PopularEconomics.com, and content provider of 3 weekly columns to various blogs--Popular Economics Weekly, The Huffington Post, and PeaceCorpsWorldwide.org.
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