The gun lobby’s campaign of fear and division puts gun manufacturer profits over public safety. We have them on the defensive—and we’re not letting up.
You wouldn’t know it from watching Congress, but there is widespread agreement in our country when it comes to regulating guns. Americans support the right to own firearms, but they also overwhelmingly support laws that would keep guns away from people who pose a significant risk of harm.
The gun lobby doesn’t. The NRA, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), and other gun lobby groups have been selling a message of fear to the American people for decades and using their money to scare lawmakers at every level into supporting their extreme agenda. Giffords is leading the fight to end the gun lobby’s corruption and enact commonsense measures to keep our communities safe from gun violence.
Why This Matters
People shouldn’t have to live in fear of being shot. But with rising gun violence in places like schools, places of worship, playgrounds, and living rooms, no place in America feels safe.
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We know gun violence isn’t inevitable. There is no reason bullets should take the lives of over 40,000 Americans every year. There’s no reason that more than a hundred thousand people should be shot and wounded each year—and go on to face costly medical bills and a lifetime of recovery and trauma. Gun laws save lives, but only if we have leaders with the courage to enact them.
The gun lobby’s radical and profit-driven agenda is what stands in the way of a safer country. The NRA’s and NSSF’s lobbyists push lawmakers to make it as easy as possible to buy a gun and to oppose any restrictions on firearms, no matter the evidence or court precedent behind the policy. They use campaign contributions to block the change supported by the overwhelming majority of Americans. All to sell more guns and pad the bottom line of gun lobby executives like Wayne LaPierre.
Before the gun lobby wielded the influence it does today, Congress used to enact straightforward laws to keep our communities safe. It passed the National Firearms Act in the 1930s to regulate the most dangerous guns of the day. It passed the Brady Bill in the 1990s to establish a background check system for gun purchases. Today, gun lobby opposition means that even bipartisan efforts, like the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act of 2022, contain loopholes and limitations to undermine their effectiveness.
Our democracy is based on the principle that Congress should reflect the will of the people. Yet the gun lobby works relentlessly to violate that principle and keep lawmakers from acting to keep our communities safe from gun violence.
The gun safety movement is on the march: Americans from different background are united in standing up for safer schools and communities. Join us to make your voice heard and power our next wave of victories.GET INVOLVED
At its core, the gun lobby cares about selling guns, not keeping Americans safe. They aggressively push the fear-based message that people need a gun to protect themselves when the evidence shows access to a firearm actually increases the risk of suicide and homicide. They are quick to label any gun safety measure a violation of the Second Amendment, even though courts have consistently upheld such measures as constitutional.
The gun lobby advances its goals with campaign contributions and lobbying expenses. In 2016, the NRA spent $30 million to elect Donald Trump—more than any other special interest group—and the gun industry routinely spends more than $10 million each year lobbying in Washington. All of this money buys loyalty in Congress and state capitals across the country.
At the state level, the NRA, the NSSF, and their allies advocate for measures that allow untrained, unlicensed people to carry firearms in all public places and for reckless “Stand Your Ground” laws that allow armed individuals to use deadly force with impunity. In Congress, the gun lobby has spent years advancing a dangerous proposal to force states with strong gun laws to allow concealed carry for people from states with weak—or non-existent—permitting processes.
In recent years, it has become abundantly clear that the NRA and other gun lobby groups are far more interested in financial gain than supporting responsible gun ownership. Documentation has revealed that NRA Chief Executive Wayne LaPierre used organizational funds to spend more than $200,000 at an upscale clothing store in Beverly Hills.
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Other reporting has shown that about one-quarter of the NRA board—a body that is supposed to be unpaid—collected money from the group through various contracts and agreements. All the while, contributions to the NRA have plummeted as supporters become disenchanted with the organization’s radical policies and its leadership’s self-enrichment.
The gun industry and its trade group, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), have also cultivated an exceptionally cozy relationship with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the federal agency with primary authority over guns. This relationship has enabled the gun industry to influence the agency that’s supposed to regulate it, ensuring that ATF’s policy decisions are friendly to gun sellers and limiting the agency’s ability to enforce the laws.
Defeating the gun lobby once and for all won’t be easy. The NRA, the NSSF, and their allies have spent decades buying the loyalty of lawmakers and sowing cultural division. Even in the wake of embarrassing disclosures about its leadership, the gun lobby still has a massive financial interest in continuing to push a message of fear in an attempt to drive gun sales.
We must focus on blocking further attempts by the gun lobby to erode gun safety laws while also building on previous victories by closing loopholes that continue to endanger communities. In some arenas that the gun lobby has long taken for granted, we have the opportunity to enact meaningful gun safety measures for the first time in decades. The Senate–which for far too long has been under the influence of the gun lobby–recently confirmed Steve Dettelbach as the new ATF director, finally enabling previously stalled gun safety policies to move forward. ATF immediately got to work, finalizing a rule to stop the proliferation of deadly ghost gun kits over the objections of the NRA and the NSSF.
Building a future where no American lives in fear of gun violence will require an all-hands-on-deck effort. But through our work, we can push the gun lobby to the fringe of the debate where it belongs.
The Gun Lobby’s Radical Policies
- Concealed carry by untrained, unlicensed individuals
- Open carry at protests and in other public places
- No background checks on unlicensed gun sales
- Easy access to silencers
- Dangerous “Stand Your Ground” laws
- Blanket liability from lawsuits for the gun industry
- Armed teachers in schools
- Blocking research into gun violence
- Prohibition on cities enacting gun safety measures
What Giffords Is Doing
For decades, the gun lobby faced very little opposition. Now, wherever the NRA and NSSF push their radical agenda, Giffords works to oppose it in coalitions, elections, and courtrooms across the country.
We lift up the stories of survivors to make sure that their voices aren’t silenced. We organize responsible gun owners who refuse to let the corporate gun lobby speak for them. We work with corporations with consciences that know the gun lobby is not on the right side of history.
We helped elect a gun safety majority to the House of Representatives in 2018, flipping seats long held by NRA politicians in suburban districts in states like Texas, Michigan, and Georgia. That same year, Giffords-endorsed candidates were elected governor in New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado, and many other states. And in 2019, we dealt a stinging defeat to the NRA in Virginia and in 2020 elected a gun safety president.
Congresswoman Gabby Giffords helped introduce H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, on the eighth anniversary of her shooting, which shortly thereafter became the first major piece of gun safety legislation to pass the House in many years. Every year, our experts testify to the dangers of the gun lobby’s agenda in front of legislative committees in state houses around the country.
In 2022, our experts helped craft several major pieces of gun safety legislation that passed through the House over the objections of both the NSSF and the NRA. This legislation led a bipartisan group of senators to ignore the gun lobby’s lies and come to a historic deal so that President Biden could sign the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the first significant federal gun legislation enacted in over two decades.
When the gun lobby tries to peddle its false narrative that even the most modest, commonsense gun safety laws infringe on Second Amendment rights, we’re there to take them on in court, filing amicus briefs and working with pro bono partners to protect lifesaving gun laws.
The fight against the gun lobby is far from over, but we’re in it for the long haul.
We’re in this together. To build a safer America—one where children and parents in every neighborhood can learn, play, work, and worship without fear of gun violence—we need you standing beside us in this fight.
Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, Governor Gretchen Whitmer Rally for Gun Safety
Mar 15, 2023
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