Following a cataclysmic mass shooting such as Orlando’s, politicians, the media, and the public are quick to jump into the debate of whether more guns or fewer guns are the solution to this epidemic.
This hypothetical debate regarding gun control is futile—both sides circumvent the root issue at hand.
It does not matter whether we ever collectively agree on a solution to mass shootings: We can never get gun control unless we get money out of politics.
The two issues may seem wholly unrelated, but the corruption in Washington is precisely why we continue to see absurd laws regarding firearms go unchallenged.
Why do we hear dozens of politicians offer “thoughts and prayers” after a mass shooting but no meaningful legislation for common sense measures such as stopping individuals on the terrorist watch list from purchasing weapons? It’s because our representatives are puppets of their campaign donors, including the NRA.
Journalists such as Igor Volsky have been set on exposing this corruption. After a major mass shooting, Volsky calls out specific senators and House representatives, revealing the exact amounts of money the NRA has donated to them and how this has affected their votes.
Linking to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s tweet following the San Bernardino shooting, Volsky wrote, “NRA dumped $922K into McConnell's re-elect bid, so when it comes to preventing gun violence all u [sic.] get is this tweet.”
NRA dumped $922K into McConnell's re-elect bid, so when it comes to preventing gun violence all u get is this tweet https://t.co/RsSvFRDlZr— igorvolsky (@igorvolsky) December 3, 2015
For Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s response to Orlando, Volsky pointed out, “[Speaker Ryan] - who took $35K from @NRA - has issued a statement on #OrlandoShooting that doesn't even mention guns.”
Volsky also made sure to inform the public of the 50 GOP senators who “voted AGAINST blocking people on terror watch list from buying firearms.”
In 2014, the NRA spent approximately $3.3 million on lobbying and in partnership with its own Super PAC, over $27 million on midterm congressional campaigns.
NBC News detailed the power this money has: “In the ten races [in 2014] the NRA spent nearly a million dollars or more - eight Senate races and two House races - the candidate the NRA backed won in every race except one.”
This level of influence is grotesque, particularly for an industry whose sole goal is profiting over the sales of weapons intended to kill.
Thus, when you have Republican congressmen arguing that a ban on assault weapons violates the 2nd amendment, or that federal background checks are unnecessary, they aren’t arguing from some pure, principled point of view—they are arguing on behalf of a multi-billion dollar industry that puts money in their pocket.
It’s long been established that the views of the public have little to no effect on the votes of politicians. In a study done by Princeton University and Northwestern University, they discovered, “Public opinion has ‘near-zero’ impact on U.S. law.”
“While the opinions of the bottom 90% of income earners in America have a ‘statistically non-significant impact,’ economic elites, business interests, and people who can afford lobbyists still carry major influence,” the study found, ultimately calling it a “vicious cycle of legalized corruption.”
It’s difficult to believe that over 90 percent of Americans actually favor mandatory federal background checks with the way politicians currently represent their constituents—yet numerous Pew Research, Quinnipiac, and Gallup polls have all come to this conclusion.
The majority of the public is screaming for something to be done, but it has fallen on deaf, corrupt ears.
The ongoing debate on the efficacy of gun control is pragmatically useless; legislation will never pass considering the unshakeable control the NRA holds over Congress.
The only possible way to achieve significant change is to address the root of this systemic issue: end the legalized bribery and get money out of politics.
Banner/thumbnail credit: Flickr, Sean