It’s not the NRA that’s the Problem, it’s ‘Gun Owners of America’

In the ongoing debate over new gun control legislation, the NRA (National Rifle Association) has been front and center as the leader of the opposition. Recently I mentioned how the White House has turned up the pressure on Senate Republicans opposed to as much as a vote on proposed legislation. as I mentioned then, there are 14 Senate Republicans who are on record to filibuster a vote which can come as soon as on Thursday according to Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid. But it appears that we have been giving too much credit to the NRA for influencing said opposition to a bipartisan bill on common sense gun control legislation. From the looks of it, it’s not the NRA that’s the problem, it’s the Gun Owners of America organization. According to TPM (Talking Points Memo), Democrats are now placing the blame where it should be.

It’s the Gun Owners of America:

A little known pro-gun lobby that’s well to the right of the National Rifle Association has complicated efforts to reach a solution on gun control legislation, top Democrats have said in recent days.

The Gun Owners of America has been around for decades, operating mostly in obscurity, dwarfed by the lobbying and fundraising prowess of the NRA. The group’s big gripe is that the NRA is too squishy and willing to compromise, and its recent efforts to scuttle gun control legislation appear to be scaring away Republicans amenable to background checks.

The results have frustrated Democrats trying to strike a bipartisan deal.

“The NRA — their lobbying efforts are being pushed even further to the extreme by virtue of the fact that there’s another organization called Gun Owners of America,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) told Nevada Public Radio on Friday. “Whenever the NRA tries to be reasonable, the Gun Owners of America becomes more unreasonable, and it pushes the NRA [to the right].”

GOA is proud of its obstinacy against gun control. In a New York Times profile of the group last week, its executive director Larry Pratt took credit for scaring away Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) from discussions with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) about a bipartisan compromise on expanding background checks for gun purchases.

“His staff admitted that it kind of irritated the senator,” Pratt told the paper. “We were told, ‘He’s getting tired of this.’ But when we hear complaints like that, we know we are close to success. We are happy he changed his mind.” He said GOA mobilized its proclaimed 300,000 pro-gun members to inundate GOP lawmakers with phone calls.

its-not-the-nra-thats-the-problem-its-gun-owners-of-americaSchumer’s spokesman Brian Fallon took note of Gun Owners of America’s role in the debate, tweeting a link to the Times profile and saying the group “is making deal on even background checks extremely hard.”

Less clear is the extent to which Gun Owners of America is the true foe of expanded background checks, rather than a scapegoat for Senate Democrats who are facing potentially tough reelection battles in red states and are skittish about supporting any significant new gun restrictions. For now, negotiations over background checks continue, as Democrats are now seeking to win over Sen. Pat Toomey’s (R-PA) support for a compromise deal.

Meanwhile, the Gun Owners of America is flexing its muscle in first major gun control effort in nearly two decades. Prominently featured on the front page of GOA’s website is a quote from Ron Paul calling the group “the only no-compromise gun lobby in Washington.” (source)

This from the Gun Owners of America website:

1) First of all, it’s pretty clear by now that the goal of Obama and Schumer is, in the words of the Brady Campaign, to put “points on the board” so they can maintain their momentum for more gun control demands. Mark Glaze of Mayors Against Illegal Guns said on MSNBC that they would be back with new demands “the day after” background checks are signed into law. So, now that we are on the verge of winning, why, in heaven’s name, would Tom Coburn snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory; hand a “win” to Barack Obama so he can credibly say he “broke the back of the gun lobby;” invigorate fundraising for anti-gun groups in 2014; let Red State Democrats, who are up in 2014, off the hook; and create a platform for unending gun control demands that will resume the day his bill is signed into law?

2) As a general matter, if Coburn votes for a 60-vote threshold motion to proceed to the base bill and that motion passes, no Republican will have a right to offer any amendment without Harry Reid’s permission. Reid will put an amendment tree into place and institute an ObamaCare-like procedure. GOP amendments which are regarded by Reid as not particularly dangerous or popular will be allowed to come up — frequently with side-by-side ObamaCare-like Democrat alternatives. Nothing threatening, however, will be allowed. Under the circumstances, I would recommend to Lee, Paul, and Cruz that they object to the unanimous consent agreement which will probably be required to bring up Coburn while the amendment tree is in place.

3) For the record, Adam Lanza stole the guns he used in Newtown. James Holmes and Jared Loughner passed background checks. Given that the background check legislation — the centerpiece of Barack Obama’s efforts to declare “victory over the gun lobby” — would not address, in any way, the incidents which supposedly gave rise to it, exactly what is its purpose, other than to destroy the Republicans’ “ground game” and decimate the most significant remaining pillar of their coalition?

4) Page 3, line 1: “Congress believes the Department of Justice should prosecute violations of background check requirements to the maximum extent of the law.”

[…] You understand that 18 U.S.C. 922(d)(3) and (g)(3) make a person a prohibited person if they are “an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance,” right? And you understand this would subject every gun owner who smokes marijuana (medical or otherwise) to a ten-year prison sentence (under 18 U.S.C. 924(a)(2)), right? And you understand that records of medical marijuana use, drug diversion programs, etc., are in the possession of many state governments and are, technically, required to be turned over to the FBI under the last Schumer-Coburn bill, the NICS Improvement Act of 2007, right? So are you still so enthusiastic about throwing 20,000,000 gun owners in prison for ten years for smoking pot — not to mention the thousands upon thousands of military veterans who have also been thrown into the NICS system without any due process whatsoever?

5) Page 3, line 10: “…citizens of the United States agree that in order to promote safe and responsible gun ownership criminals and the mentally ill should be prohibited from possessing firearms…”

[…] Perhaps as many as 150,000 law-abiding veterans have lost their Second Amendment rights without due process at the finding of no more than a VA psychiatrist under the 2007-8 Schumer-Coburn compromise. I doubt if most — much less all — American citizens feel these veterans should have lost their rights. Watch the video below: