The Power Behind Gun Lobbies

 Stephen Henderson talks with Daniel Knowles, Washington Correspondent for The Economist about the power of the gun lobby in US politics, and how the NRA’s political stance has changed over time. 

  • Radicalization: Knowles says that the NRA’s focus has shifted from representing the interests of hunters to representing gun manufacturers. He says this shift has made the NRA increasingly radical, and that whenever they achieve a major goal they make a new goal, such as open carry.  
  • Grading politicians: The NRA grades politicians on their gun-friendliness.  Knowles says that these grades are important to politicians, especially rural Republicans.  He says the NRA will punish politicians for straying from entirely pro-gun positions, even if they are still comparatively gun-friendly. 
  • Bernie Sanders: Knowles says Bernie Sanders’s original election to the senate happened in part because his opponent changed his position on gun control, and the NRA punished him by supporting Sanders. 
  • Gun safety: A caller from Alpena says he believes gun safety is important to creating a safe culture, and that he attended a mandatory hunter safety class in school.  Knowles says that the NRA does support gun safety and education programs, and that it is part of their incentive for membership. 
  • Hypocritical programs: Knowles says that the NRA’s gun safety programs mostly help middle class affluent people, who are not at risk of gun violence, learn to use guns more safely.  He says this is hypocritical, because the NRA opposes regulations that would prevent illegal gun ownership and reduce gun violence, which affect people who are more in need.

Click the audio link above to hear the full conversation.  

Image credit: Marcin Wichary

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