The NRA, working alongside like-minded conservative groups such as Alec, the American Legislative Exchange Council, has developed sophisticated lobbying networks designed to push back gun controls both at the federal and state level.
Here are key areas where the gun lobby has either pushed laws that weaken controls or blocked laws intended to tighten loopholes:
1. Concealed carry reciprocity
The NRA is backing two bills currently being considered by the US Senate that would extend the right to carry concealed weapons right across the US. The Begich-Manchin and Thune-Vitter bills would override the laws of almost every state by forcing them to allow people with out-of-state concealed carry permits to carry a hidden loaded gun, even in cases where the individual would not have qualified for a permit in that particular state. The Thune bill goes further – it would allow people from states that don’t even require permits to carry hidden guns throughout the country.
2. Private gun sales loophole
Under existing federal law, unlicensed gun sellers are allowed to sell weapons without a background check of the buyer at gun shows and other private sales. Paradoxically, only licensed dealers are required to conduct such background checks, which gun control advocates see as crucial in cutting off the supply of weapons to criminals and mentally unstable individuals. The NRA strongly opposes legislation that would close this glaring loophole by requiring background checks for all gun sales.
3. Terror watch list
The NRA has strongly opposed legislation to prohibit the sale of guns to people on the federal government’s terrorist watch list. Under current law, a suspected terrorist can be put on the no-fly list and be kept off a plane, but can’t be prevented from buying a gun.
4. Stand-your-ground laws
The NRA successfully lobbied for Florida’s stand-your-ground law in 2005, the same shoot-first provision that was invoked by Trayvon Martin’s killer, George Zimmerman. Working with Alec, the NRA has encouraged the passage of similar legislation in 24 other states, and now it is actively pursuing bills that would codify similar legislation in at least seven states: Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota (where the bill was vetoed by governor), Nebraska, New Jersey, New York and Washington.
5. Guns on campuses
This year, at least 14 states have introduced 35 bills, with NRA encouragement, that would allow students and faculty to carry concealed weapons on the campuses of state colleges and universities, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Alec, too, has put forward a model bill for guns on campuses. Remarkably, the argument is often made that having hidden guns on campus would help prevent another Virginia Tech, America’s deadliest shooting by a single gunman, in which 33 people were killed in April 2007.
7. Guns in schools
NRA-backed gun proponents have tried in several states to pass legislation eliminating “gun-free zones” and allowing weapons in elementary schools and even day-care centers. In February, the Georgia state assembly passed HR 981, which would have made it legal to carry guns on college campuses, elementary and secondary schools, state mental hospitals and bars.
8. Guns in the workplace, bars and restaurants
For several years the NRA has pushed legislation prohibiting businesses and employers from banning guns in locked cars in parking lots. It has been successful in several states, including Florida, Georgia and Utah, and is currently pushing for passage in Tennessee. Indiana and North Dakota have enacted laws allowing employees to sue if they are asked about gun possession at work. The NRA has also been lobbying for several years to expand the right to carry hidden loaded guns into bars and restaurants.
9. Tracing guns used in shootings
In 2004, a Republican congressman from Kansas, Todd Tiahrt, a long-time ally of the NRA, added an amendment to bill regarding the bureau of alcohol, tobacco, firearms and explosives (ATF). Until that point, data had been kept on the history of guns used in murders and shootings, which allowed police and policymakers to trace them back to corrupt dealerships and other holes in the system. The rule change, known as the Tiahrt amendment, made this data much harder to acquire. It also forced the justice department to destroy within 24 hours the records of any gun buyer whose background check was approved. The overall impact of the amendments was to make it much harder for police to clamp down on illegally distributed guns.
10. Revoking licenses from corrupt dealers
The NRA has made several attempts to usher through Congress an “ATF reform bill” that would make it much harder – some say virtually impossible – to revoke the gun-selling licenses of crooked dealers. If the bill passed – and the NRA is expected to try again soon – the ATF would have to prove the dealer’s state of mind, in terms of his or her premeditated intention to break the law.
SOURCE: Mayors Against Illegal Guns