The National Rifle Association is powerful because it has millions of members, not because of the money it spends on political campaigns, a Republican congressman from Pennsylvania indicated on Monday.
During an appearance on CNN’s “New Day,” Rep. Charlie Dent was asked by co-host Dave Briggs if gun control measures fall short in Congress due to the NRA’s political donations.
“If you could pull back the curtain a little bit and just share with us, what happens. How does this fail each and every time?” Briggs asked. “Is it as simple as saying the NRA is just too powerful and people can’t say no to their donations?”
Dent said he didn’t think that’s the case, instead indicating that the NRA gets its power from its members.
“No I don’t think so,” he said in reply to Briggs’ question.
“I think the issue with the NRA is the NRA’s real power is in their members, more than money. That’s been my view. They have lots of members all around the country and that’s what makes them pretty strong.”
Indeed, many Americans are part of the NRA. On its website, the group boasts of having more than 5 million members.
But in the aftermath of the shooting at a South Florida high school last week that left 17 people dead, many liberals have renewed their attacks on the NRA, arguing that politicians refuse to act on gun control because they want to keep receiving millions of dollars in campaign contributions from the gun rights group.
In fact, some mainstream media outlets have even gone so far as to suggest the NRA was responsible for the shooting because the perpetrator was a member of the rifle team during his time in the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program, and the rifle team had received a $10,000 donation from the NRA Foundation.
In a Friday op-ed piece, CNBC senior columnist Jake Novak dismantled the argument that the NRA was somehow responsible for the shooting, explaining that the group’s political donations have been vastly overstated.
“(T)he Poltifact fact-checking website puts the total amount of NRA spending since 1998 at $203 million,” Novak wrote. “That figure is even smaller than it looks when you consider 30 percent of Americans, or about 100 million people, own a gun. By contrast, Wall Street and the broader financial industrial shelled out more than $1.1 billion in the 2016 election cycle alone. The financial industry employs only about six million people in total.”
Thus, Novak said, “the bottom line is going to nasty war with the NRA isn’t a productive path for anyone.”
Dent, meanwhile, seemed to agree, at least in part. He noted that despite his support for the NRA and gun rights, something has to be done in the wake of the Florida shooting.
“I can’t speak as to why leadership does not want to permit a vote on this in the House,” he said, while using Pennsylvania as an example of a pro-gun state that still has been able to successfully push through restrictions on firearm sales without running into problems with the NRA.
“Pennsylvania is a pretty pro-gun rights state, but we do background checks on private sales of pistols, we’ve been doing it for 20 years and we did it under a Republican governor,” Dent said, according to Newsmax.
“When I was in the legislature, we voted for it. And we were able at that time to bring together the NRA and gun control groups and law enforcement to agree. Today in Washington … it’s getting increasingly difficult to do incremental, bipartisan changes on controversial issues. It shouldn’t be this difficult.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.