Wayne LaPierre, the head of the powerful National Rifle Association (NRA), has broken his silence since the latest school mass shooting that left 17 dead. He has accused gun control advocates of trying to exploit the tragedy for political gain and stated that such advocates were against the nation’s Second Amendment.
The right to bear arms is a constitutional freedom in America. It is guaranteed under the Second Amendment (Amendment II) to the United States Constitution. It was adopted in 1791. Gun organizations in the country are among the most politically powerful groups. America is home to some of the deadliest mass shootings in the history. It has six times as many firearm homicides as Canada, and nearly 16 times as many as Germany. It is home to 4.4% of the global population, however, nearly half of all civilian owned guns are in the US.
In February 2018, a gunman, who has been identified as Nikolas Cruz, entered a high school in Florida, USA and opened fire. The attack has resulted in the deaths of at least 17 people including children and many more are being treated for injuries in the hospital. 19-year-old Cruz was reportedly a former student who was expelled from the school for unspecified disciplinary reasons.
This is one of the 10 deadliest shootings in US history. Twelve people were found dead inside the school, two were killed outside the building, one in the street, and two died later in hospital from their injuries. According to the police, the shooter was carrying an AR-15 rifle and “multiple magazines.”
National Rifle Association
Founded in 1871, the National Rifle Association of America (NRA) is an American nonprofit organization that advocates for gun rights. Considered to be one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington, it has informed its members about firearm-related bills since 1934. It has played a key role in legislation connected to gun ownership in America since 1975. The National Rifle Association has been criticized by newspaper editorial boards, gun control and gun rights advocacy groups, political commentators, and politicians.
The students who were present at the Florida High School during shooting have emerged as the one of the staunchest advocates for gun control. Many of the students have become politically engaged and beseeched politicians to change gun laws to make it difficult to obtain certain kinds of firearms.
In addition, many of the students have also spoken against the National Rifle Association for its alleged role in blocking legislation that has to do with gun control. As part of the advocacy, students across America walked out of school in support of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students. The students have also raised over 3 million dollars to organize a march to Washington in order to confront lawmakers. Recently, during a townhall organized by CNN, students confronted Republican Senator Marco Rubio who for the first time stated that he was willing to consider raising the legal age to buy firearms from 18 to 21. According to many analysts, this is the first time in many years when those lobbying for gun control have gained leverage. During the townhall, Dana Loesch, who represented the NRA was heavily criticized.
For the first time since the tragedy, the head of NRA, Wayne LaPierre, has spoken up about gun control lobbyists. He has accused gun control advocates of exploiting the situation for political gain.
“The elites don’t care not one whit about America’s school system and schoolchildren,” he told the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the National Harbor in Maryland. “If they truly cared, what they would do is they would protect them. For them, it’s not a safety issue, it’s a political issue. They care more about control, and more of it. Their goal is to eliminate the second amendment and our firearms freedoms so they can eradicate all individual freedoms... They hate the NRA, they hate the second amendment, they hate individual freedom.”
He added, “They fantasise about more laws stopping what other laws have failed to stop. So many existing laws were ignored. They don’t care if their laws work or not. They just want to get more laws to get more control over people. But the NRA – the NRA does care.”
Our assessment is that debate regarding gun control has once again come to the forefront of American political landscape in wake of the shooting. Survivors of the shooting have become politically engaged and have demanded change from politicians with regards to gun legislation. They have also openly attacked the NRA for being a powerful pro-gun advocate in Washington. Even the US President Donald Trump has indicated that he is willing to change legislation especially when it comes to bump stocks. Will the NRA have to accept defeat or will it continue being a formidable player in American politics?