Gun-Control Advocates Gain Momentum ... over Last Two Years, NRA's Power Has Been Eroding, Especially at the State Level

By Linda Feldmann, writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, December 14, 1993 | Go to article overview

Gun-Control Advocates Gain Momentum ... over Last Two Years, NRA's Power Has Been Eroding, Especially at the State Level


Linda Feldmann, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


`WE'RE rethinking our position on gun control...."

Those words, spoken by the senior aide of a Republican senator who usually opposes legislation to restrict firearms, are like a dagger in the heart of the National Rifle Association (NRA).

In the past, this senator, a top recipient of NRA campaign contributions, has found it politically easier to keep the state's vocal minority of gun and hunting enthusiasts happy. And he did vote against the recently signed Brady bill, which requires a five-day wait for the purchase of a handgun.

But now, the aide says, "It's time to pay attention to the other five-sixths of the state."

This is but one bit of evidence of a widely perceived shift in the congressional landscape on gun control. Handgun Control Inc.'s hard-fought victory to pass the Brady bill has established that organization as a force to be reckoned with. Perhaps more important, the pro-gun-control public, fed up with the epidemic of gun-related violence, has begun to raise its voice, especially in calls and letters to members of Congress.

Further, having a president who supports gun control, the first since Jimmy Carter, has helped embolden the silent majority. Vocal support for gun control from two high-profile Republicans - Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan and New York Mayor-elect Rudolph Giuliani - has helped build bipartisan momentum.

Osha Gray Davidson, author of "Under Fire: the NRA & the Battle for Gun Control," says since he began researching the NRA in 1989, he has never seen such a period of sustained public attention to gun control. And that, he says, is bringing Congress more into line with public opinion on gun restrictions. "Gun control has moved out of the realm of emotion and into the realm of reason," Mr. Davidson says.

For decades, public opinion has supported gun control. The latest survey, released Friday by the Times Mirror Center for the People & the Press, showed that 57 percent of those polled support President Clinton's efforts to restrict the use of handguns. And by a margin of 61 percent to 28 percent, Americans favor Mr. Clinton's promise to challenge the NRA.

At the same time, 51 percent of those polled oppose legislation to "ban the sale of handguns." And 60 percent opposed a "law that would make it illegal for ordinary citizens to own handguns, except in special circumstances."

The second part should lend some comfort to the NRA, which operates on the idea that even limited restrictions on the ownership of guns could lead down the slippery slope toward the banning of handguns.

So why has the NRA wielded so much influence in Congress even though its positions have historically enjoyed low levels of public support? Part of the answer is money. For a private grass-roots organization, the NRA has one of Washington's wealthiest political-action committees, and many members have relied on NRA campaign contributions. Sen. Paul Coverdell (R) of Georgia, who barely defeated Sen. Wyche Fowler (D) a year ago, tops the list of NRA recipients at $95,806 between Jan. 1, 1987, and Sept. 30, 1993.

More important, though, are the 3 million NRA members, who feel strongly about the right to bear arms and who vote.

"Not only is its membership large, it's dispersed," says James Thurber, an American University political science professor who studies Washington lobbying. Professor Thurber credits the NRA's leadership for focusing successfully on its goals and for building up its membership by providing gun owners with services such as gun-safety training programs. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Gun-Control Advocates Gain Momentum ... over Last Two Years, NRA's Power Has Been Eroding, Especially at the State Level
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.