Follow the Money

December 5, 2015

“Follow the money” comes from the All the President’s Men screenplay. The words were likely never spoken during Watergate, but truer words have rarely been written. Rational people can solve for many problems … until we face a problem which involves people whose economic interests lie with avoiding any solution.

Nobody with any real power makes money from the gun show loophole, but the National Rifle Association fights to the nth to prevent any modification to a loophole the size of a large nation. Gun manufacturers make money from the sale of assault weapons, but the real money flows into the coffers of the gun lobby, which opposes any reasonable regulations of weapons. Then there are cop-killer bullets. Who can oppose bullet that pierce armor? Read The NRA Wins Again on Armor-piercing Bullets, But Common Sense Was Already Lost by Mike Weisser for the Huffington Post in March 2015 to understand who can, in fact, oppose something so seemingly Apple Pie American.

So here’s a dose of reality. The NRA had almost $75,000,000 of net assets in 2013. Its total revenue in 2013 was almost $350m. Wayne LaPierre got compensation totaling almost $1M, and CEO Wilson H. Phillips, Jr. had a package worth just shy of $3M. The source for the data is the NRA’s 990 report for 2013. (By the way, eight other individuals receive total compensation averaging almost $500K per year.

Ted Kennedy wrote a marvelous autobiography, True Compass, which was published within days of his death. Buried in the book are anecdotes in which Senator Ted Kennedy totally comprehends the fact that his Right Wing friends use him as a bogeyman at night, to make money for their campaigns and those who make money off their campaigns. As long as they were available to make deals with him which helped regular Americans he was fine.

The NRA, its fellow travelers, and their ilk, know many of their positions lack any reasonable support from anyone. But solving guns—no loophole, no assault weapons, no cop killer bullets, and a little bit more—and the NRA is a different entity. Messrs. LaPierre and Phillips, Jr. need to find new more jobs. Their highly paid factotums have real problems. Bottom line: There’s big money in Second Amendment intransigence, and in the country which venerates markets and money more than any other, we’re getting what we deserve.

You’ve probably figured out where this issue goes. There’s no money for anyone in a gun solution. The gun/bullet manufacturers will be fine; if a product falls by the wayside, they’ll charge more for the products they can lawfully sell. But, a solution puts Mr. LaPierre and Mr. Phillips out of business, along with many others whose livelihoods depends on Second Amendment battle.

Just how clear the money/power thing is has hit me between the eyes over the past couple of days. Following the events in Paris—France, mind you, a continent away, with a culture that belongs in a universe different from ours—you’d have thought 20 million Americans had died. Ban this, stop that, etc. The events totally dominated the noise machine which is the Republican Party primary process.

Then, we have a shooting at home, perpetrated by a married Moslem couple, and she’s an immigrant. And the noise? Ears cocked? … … … Still waiting for it!

Here’s my theory. The killers obtained their weapons and bullets lawfully. And while they had explosives—Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), in a comment which brings to mind Emily Litella, says “I don’t hear anybody talking about bomb control.”—they used guns, and we certainly don’t to mix it up about guns, do we? Hard to draw fine lines when we have Americans shooting other Americans with guns, even when their names are not Sally and John, and when their motives may line up with ISIL-Daesh.

I very much appreciate the outrage, and the attempts to bring about change. Don’t expect much, however, so long as the pro-gun folks have the resources to maintain control over the situation.

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