Following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. in December 2012, the gun-control debate is in full swing. President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are pushing for more regulation, including restoring the assault-weapons ban, limiting high-capacity magazines, and implementing mandatory background checks for all gun sales. Gun-rights advocates oppose the initiatives, citing Second Amendment freedoms. The battle lines have been clearly drawn – and Americans have seen this face-off before. But this time around, things are different.
Something is going to happen this session in the US Congress that hasn’t happened in more than a decade: The National Rifle Association (NRA) is going to lose on a top priority issue – specifically universal background checks. Further measures on guns are unlikely to make it through Congress, given that the Republicans control the House, but public and political opinion is swaying in favor of background checks. An Obama victory on this issue before the 2014 mid-term elections won’t be easy, and he’ll have to use a lot of political capital to get there.
But here are six reasons why President Obama will defeat the NRA on universal background checks.
The NRA could almost change its name to the National Republican Association. On the NRA’s board sit at least 14 Republican politicians or nationally known extreme conservatives, like anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist and guitarist Ted Nugent, whose misogynistic insults toward Hillary Rodhan Clinton have become infamous. The sole remaining Democrat, Rep. Dan Boren of Oklahoma, is no longer in Congress. In the past, the NRA board featured such powerful Democrats as Rep. John Dingell of Michigan. As I pointed out two years ago in this publication, the number of Democrats who enjoy NRA support has been dropping dramatically.
Smart lobbies that want to win long-term victories, such as the pro-Israel lobby, try very hard to avoid becoming one-party shops. The NRA, thanks to pushing from partisan Republicans on its board, took stands that forced Democrats like Mr. Dingell to choose between their party and the NRA. The NRA also refused to help a lifelong hunter and gun-rights supporter, Majority Leader Harry Reid, when he was in the fight of his life in the 2010 elections. Reid is not known around Washington for his forgive-and-forget ways.
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