Grover Norquist. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)
The overriding failure in passing any form of gun control or gun safety legislation this year can be chalked up as a victory for the gun lobby and its most effective advocate, the National Rifle Association. What motivates the NRA, beyond the fact that a significant portion of its budget comes from gun manufacturers, gun dealers, and ammunition companies?
NRA board member Grover Norquist, speaking almost ten months ago at the State Policy Network, a group we profiled earlier this year, explained the importance of gun rights advocacy in terms rarely heard in public. Gun rights, specifically concealed carry, Norquist argued, changes Americans into being more likely to be on “his team,” the Republican Party.
In a talk that sounded somewhat like cultural Marxism, Norquist said school vouchers, 401(k) savings accounts and other reforms could help “elect a new people” who become “different voters”:
NORQUIST: Let’s look at what happens when you change state laws and you change the electorate.… Well, we can elect a new people. You can elect a new people. When forty states passed concealed carry laws and there are now 8 million permits, people with concealed carry permits are a different people and different voters than people who say, “Well, if I get killed the nice government will come a draw a chalk line all around me, that’ll be helpful.” It changes the natures of who they are.
Multiple reports show that gun ownership linked to higher rates of homicide, suicide and accidental shooting deaths; and statistically, a gun is more likely to be used to settle an argument rather than stop a crime.
But for NRA board members like Norquist, more guns in the hands of Americans—including in public places like bars and school parking lots, as recent conceal carry bills have expanded “gun rights” into new areas—means more Republican voters. If policy is determined only by partisan advantage, then of course the rational move is to oppose any gun safety reforms, even if doing so leads to more deaths.
Remember that disgusting NRA press conference?