The National Rifle Association is getting its clock cleaned.
I know, you need to see that again. So to repeat, and in layman terms: The NRA has been losing a lot lately.
The conventional wisdom is that even with an average of one school shooting per week since Sandy Hook, further common-sense gun regulation is a political non-starter, because of the NRA’s undue influence over our elected officials.
You’re likely familiar with this generic strain of blather, most recently regurgitated to pretend the NRA had a banner election night in Virginia this year.
Democrats, running proudly in support of gun safety, won one state senate race right in the NRA’s backyard. Democrats also picked up a state house seat and barely lost one state senate seat with a strong GOP lean.
For a more accurate view of just how much the NRA’s been losing the past few years, we needn’t look too far afield. The most sweeping gun-violence prevention laws in the country passed in 2014 via citizen ballot initiative, I-594, in Washington State. The initiative got 60 percent of the vote, in an off year when right-wing trolls put a poison pill measure on the ballot to fool people into voting against it—and failed.
In Oregon, the government did its job of protecting citizens over the infinitely expanding greed of Wayne LaPierre and his little band of merry, executive-suite misanthropes who run the NRA. They passed a background-check bill against the NRA’s wishes. Meanwhile, some North Carolina lawmakers who didn’t think enough of their constituents were being rendered dead were stopped in their tracks this past July when they tried to eliminate background checks on handgun purchases. The same thing happened in Colorado and Iowa.
Don’t take it from me, though. Listen to the NRA, whose former president called their own efforts in the states this year a “huge train wreck” in an internal memo. The gun nuts lost in 15 of 16 states where they tried to put guns on campus (no doubt to add bullet holes to the general atmosphere of co-ed merriment), including Oklahoma, Arkansas, Indiana, Georgia, South Dakota, Tennessee, South Carolina and Wyoming—all deep red states.
In the one state where they succeeded (although with a watered-down version of their bill), Texas, there have been protests and a number of professors have quit. Also, ironically, they’ve managed to create a whole new grassroots, gun-safety force among students who plan to carry colorful dildos around campus in protest. You see, carrying dildos out in public is illegal in Texas, concealed weapons that can kill now is not. Tells you all you need to know about the gerontocratic, melanin-challenged, right-wing men who are the base of support for both laws and choosing “leaders” in GOP primaries.
Meanwhile, the NRA tried to eliminate any training or permit requirements for concealed carry in West Virginia, Missouri, Utah, and Montana. The results? No, no, no and no. Again, these are not blue states. The same exact scenario played out with the NRA’s efforts to force guns into K-12 schools, based on their made up claim that “gun free zones” attract those who want to do us harm—as if the mentally ill are conducting a multivariate data analysis while planning an murderous spree.
What has happened in the affirmative? In response to the terrible Isla Vista massacre in 2014, California enacted a “gun violence restraining order” to allow close family and law enforcement to temporarily confiscate firearms if someone proves to be a threat to themselves and others.
In Milwaukee, police officers Bryan Norberg and Graham Kunisch, both shot in the face in the line of duty, won a case against known provider of guns to anyone asking, Badger Guns, for $6 million:
The officers, Norberg and Kunisch, alleged Julius Burton obtained the gun in June 2009 through a “straw buy” at Badger Guns.
The officers say the shop personnel were negligent because it was obvious another man actually bought the gun for Burton, who was too young to legally make the purchase, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported.
In fact, upon perusing its history, it becomes hard to doubt that Badger Guns would’ve hesitated to sell guns to Ultron if he had ambled on in to fulfill his need for heavy weaponry. The case is being appealed, but it may create precedent. That would be a very big deal.
Finally, as guns in the wrong hands pose such an existential threat to women suffering abuse at the hands of their husbands, six states, including Alabama and South Carolina, passed bills to make it harder for these abusers to gain access to firearms. Michigan even saw its Republican governor veto a bill to make it easier for abusers to get guns.
Next year it will be Nevada and Maine’s turns to pass universal background checks via ballot initiative. Like everywhere else, this reform is incredibly popular in those states. Washington State looks likely to once again take on the NRA directly, in banning the sale of ivory and other animal trophies. California has a ballot measure set to go in 2016 that would, among other things, make people report lost or stolen guns (I know, common sense if you’re not living in a fortified bunker with buckets of your own urine) and conduct background checks for ammunition purchases. It is the No. 1 priority of Gavin Newsom, the current lieutenant governor and likely gubernatorial candidate for 2018.
You see, the problem is that as all this is taking place, with cultural transformation already evident in People magazine’s now taking on this issue and sports teams’ wearing orange, in symbolic solidarity with gun-violence survivors, too many innocent people are still dying. And when it is local, or a massacre nationally, you will see it on your local or national news, sometimes on a loop. This makes it hard to accept that things are changing. But they are.