The NRA is far from a 'terrorist organization'

In this Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018, file photo, National Rifle Association Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre, speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), at National Harbor, Md.(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

The rhetoric, slander and downright lies being perpetuated against the NRA in the last few weeks shows just how nasty politics can get. The sadness and outrage that has been experienced since the horrific school shooting in Parkland, Florida, is completely justified. It was an unbelievably terrible event, and I pray nothing like that ever happens again. I can’t imagine what the families must be going through, and our politicians must take steps to help stop it from ever happening again. But to blame the National Rifle Association, a private organization with 5 million plus members, is absolutely outrageous. I think it’s about time that someone debunks the lies that are being spread.

The idea that the NRA buys politicians and somehow controls Congress is woefully overstated. The sad fact is that there is a lot of money in politics. Yes, the NRA spends money in campaigns and lobbying Congress, but it spends considerably less than many other well-known companies and organizations. According to Business Insider, the NRA spent $3.18 million in lobbying in 2016. According to The Hill, that doesn’t even break the top 50 amounts spent by lobbyers in the same year. In the first spot was the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which spent a whopping $103.95 million. Other prominent groups and companies include the National Association of Realtors ($64.821 million), FedEx ($12.541 million), Amazon ($11.354 million) and Facebook ($8.692 million). So can someone please explain how the NRA somehow controls congress with their large monetary donations? Facebook gave almost three times the amount the NRA did. Is Facebook blamed every time someone posts a threat or hate speech?

People may counter that by saying individual politicians receive money directly from the NRA. This again is overstated in a big way. One of the politicians taking the most heat since the Florida shooting is Senator Marco Rubio. According to CNN, Rubio received $9,000 from the NRA during 2016. If this is considered by many to be an overwhelming amount of support by an out-of-state influence, it’s important to point out that Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts just donated $5,000 to every state Democratic Party in the nation. Where is the outrage over this outsider influence? Why should Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts influence the state Democratic Party of Connecticut or Wyoming or Iowa?

The slander hit an all-time low when our “amazing” governor, who has the worst approval rating in the country, said this about the NRA: “They have in essence become a terrorist organization." I don’t think it can get much worse than that. This is coming from unequivocally the worst governor in the nation who has overseen the largest tax increase in Connecticut history and has brought the state to the brink of economic disaster. This is the governor that should be focused on countless—and I mean countless—other issues that cripple our once great state. This is the governor that isn’t running for re-election because he knows it would be the largest blowout in Connecticut electoral history. The NRA’s response to such a disgusting accusation was spot-on accurate. “The NRA hit back at the governor’s comments, saying the group is ‘comprised of over five million law-abiding citizens many of whom are teachers, doctors, policeman, farmers, moms and dads residing in Connecticut. So let’s be clear Governor Malloy just called tens of thousands of his constituents terrorists."

The NRA doesn’t sell guns and is non-profit, regardless of what George Takei believes. The NRA supports restricting bump stocks. The NRA supports the comprehensive, bipartisan background check bill (known as the Fix-NICS bill) that would close gaps in criminal record reporting. The NRA is a grassroots organization that fights to defend the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens. It is an organization that consists of great, patriotic people that are far from the evil, vilified group mainstream media and failed politicians like Governor Malloy want you to believe. There’s a good chance you walk by an NRA member all the time throughout society. Let us focus our anger towards the Florida school shooter and other horrific people like him that are plaguing our society. Let us harness our grief and sadness into action and get common sense legislation passed to make sure another Parkland or Sandy Hook or Columbine never happens again instead of using the NRA as a scapegoat.


Alexander Grzelak is a staff columnist for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at alexander.grzelak@uconn.edu.