Representatives of the People or Corporate Profits?

It is official! The vast majority of Senate Republicans may be enemies of the people. Their photos could be posted on post office bulletins boards. Their faces could well be featured in the dossiers of FBI agents as friends of enemy combatants. They could be considered supporters of terrorists and thus on the no-fly list.

They might even be considered traitors. They are truly representatives of the NRA, though most of its five million members support some regulation. Their vote indicates they are not representatives of Americans who oppose free use of guns by terrorists, the mentally ill and others who are a threat.

So whom do Senate Republicans and the NRA support? Should we actually call the NRA a “gun owners” group or a “gun sellers” group? According to the Violence Policy Center’s 2013 report, the NRA’s “corporate Partners Program” generates between $19.3 million and $60.2 million a year for the NRA.

Included in the $million-plus category for corporations are Midway, USA, Beretta, Brownells, Freedom Group, Pierce Bullet Seal Target Systems, Springfield Armory, Smith & Wesson and Strum Ruger. Considering that most NRA members favor some regulation, one can only assume that the sellers control NRA policy.

Monday, all Senate Republicans, with the exception of two up for re-election, voted against banning gun sales to suspected terrorists, a category we can directly connect to the Orlando shooter. Such restrictions are supported by some 90% of the people. A much weaker GOP version which would deny a gun sale to a known or suspected terrorist, but only if prosecutors could convince a judge within three days that the would-be buyer was involved in terrorism, also failed. That vote was 53 for and 47 against, seven votes short of the 60 needed.  Supposedly, Mitch McConnell, the churlish majority leader, politically calculated that outcome.

On the same day, fifty-six Republicans voted against Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy’s bill that would close the gun show loophole and expand background checks.  Also rejected was Republican Charles Grassley’s bill to spend more money for the background check system, but had no teeth to deny risky gun buyers.

For years and years, Republicans have ignored grossly conspicuous, but often daily carnage. To hamstring any possible reform, the NRA’s agents in Congress even voted to forbid research on gun violence. Mostly Republicans have supported the loathsome Dickey Amendment for twenty years now. The 1996 federal government omnibus spending bill mandated that “none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) may be used to advocate or promote gun control.”

Even now the skeletal fingers of the NRA, notably embodied in tin-voiced executive VP, Wayne LaPierre, has its bony fingers on the pulse of all political activities designed to topple its influence. Thus any attempt to repeal the Dickey Amendment or effectively reduce gun carnage is defeated, though some states have passed restrictions.

The Dickey Amendment prevents the ATF from having a database to record present-day gun ownership. Any tracking of guns used in crimes must be done by hand. It forbids the CDC to research information on how to prevent gun violence. Since 1996, no funds can be made available to advocate or promote gun control. Any attempt to repeal the Dickey Amendment has failed.

Generally five federal policies on guns are not commonly known by an uninformed public. Even yet, in 2016, after periodic massacres, a federal firearms trace database is off-limits to the public. The military can’t impose additional regulations on service members who own guns. You can carry a gun inside a national park or check a gun when riding Amtrak. The gun industry is shielded from many lawsuits involving criminal misuse of guns. Congress has removed federal funding for firearms-related research.

But the problem is much larger than the forty-nine dead and over fifty wounded in Orlando. It relates to some 20,000 firearm suicides per year and over 10,000 firearm homicides yearly, carnage not seen in any other advanced country. It would not stop all of these deaths, but even thirty percent would preserve the lives of some 12,000 per year. Three-hundred million guns are owned in American, but the ATF is forbidden to tabulate a really accurate breakdown of the types of weapons. The last estimate for “assault weapons” was some 1.5 million in 1997.

The question still remains, “Are we a country that promotes the common good or one just promoting the NRA and corporate profits?”

James Hoover is a recently retired systems engineer. He has advanced degrees in Economics and English. Prior to his aerospace career, he taught high school, and he has also taught college courses. He recently published a science fiction novel called Extraordinary Visitors and writes political columns on several websites. Read other articles by James.