Saturday, April 21, 2012

Where is the Anti-Gun Lobby?

There has been a new level of scorn cast on the  National Rifle Association (NRA) in the wake of the Trayvon Martin case for their orchestration of Stand Your Ground laws which allow citizens the ability to use deadly force instead of retreating in instances where they feel threatened.  In spite of this backlash, it was surprising to see GOP Presidential hopeful, Mitt Romney, go to the NRA annual convention to make a speech pandering to the membership in attendance.  A logical person might ask why would a person who has been tepid at best on his gun control stance would choose this time to address an organization widely viewed as an enemy in the Trayvon Martin case.  Upon doing a little digging, the answer is unfortunately simple: money.  The NRA puts it money where it's mouth is when it comes to protecting the right to be strapped, and in the long run Romney knows that he has no shot to occupy the Oval office if he alienates such a conservative-based constituency.  My bigger question however, is whether or not in the wake of Trayvon, and the increasing number of person-to-person murders, there will finally be a serious gun control lobby to counter the current influence of the NRA and similar organizations.  The current disparity in numbers is staggering.

According to the most recent report on Open, an average of 4.5 million dollars a year has been spent on gun rights in the last five years.  In contrast the average four gun control has been about 250K.  The NRA has lead the lobbying effort putting almost 3 million towards gun rights in 2011 followed by Gun Owners of America who spent almost a million.  On the other end, the leading gun control advocate was Mayors Agains Illegal Guns.  They put 200K towards lobbying in 2011, five times the amount of the next highest contributor, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence (40K).  These numbers make it easy to understand why Stand Your Ground Laws as we currently know them have spread to twenty-four states.  Even as the world watched George Zimmerman surrender himself to the police, and be charged with 2nd-degree murder, special prosecutor Angela Corey cautioned that a conviction will be difficult to obtain as Stand Your Ground laws have been hard to fight in Florida.  An April article in the Wall Street Journal regarding the rise of justifiable homicides paints a clear picture that the change in self-defense laws has had an impact.  In Florida for example, the number of justifiable homicides has more than tripled, and in states like Texas and Georgia, the numbers have doubled.  No matter the race, ethnicity, or social standing of the victims, Americans are losing their lives due to laws that wrongly empower people to think they can act like Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven.  There must be a greater effort to combat gun freedom or else the numbers will continue to rise.  The question becomes who will provide the financial clout to match the NRA and it's cousins?

It was a great symbolic gesture to see so many don hoodies and march in order to see criminal charges brought against Mr. Zimmerman and insure that due process is carried out.  Even athletes and entertainers, often vilified for their political neutrality, showed solidarity with the Justice for Trayvon movement as it struck a personal chord with their own positions as Black males and fathers in the case of NBA ballers Dwayne Wade, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony.  As the Martin case unfolds, the movement must continue to press for FINANCIAL support to ensure that Stand Your Ground Laws and other injurious laws continue to be scrutinized and the influence of the gun lobby can be matched.  Micro-donations help put President Obama in office, and they can certainly insure that when we send our little ones to the store, they can come home safely.

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