To consider that, I want to look at some numbers.
- The U.S. Census Bureau and the World Bank estimate the population of the U.S. in 2017 at 325.7 million people.
- The NRA has 5 million members, by its own report. That is .015% of the U.S. population. I'm sure it has non-member supporters but I haven't seen the numbers.
Sixty-six percent of respondents said they would support more stringent laws, while just 31% said they would not.If you take that as representative of the U.S. population, and it was intended to be, that's quite a difference from the members who agree with the NRA. Even among gun owners, "50% were in favor" of more stringent gun laws, and 44% were not.
You may begin to see that there are more people supporting restrictions on gun purchases than the NRA can turn out against them. Why, then, does Congress never act? The answer, as usual, is money.
I'm sorry to have to say this to all the NRA members who genuinely believe in the Second Amendment, good gun management, and recreational hunting. I choose not to have guns myself; my father owned guns and was a recreational hunter. I'm not against guns, hunting and shooting per se - I do oppose the culture that has built up that says anybody can have any gun they want, any time they want, whether they have the training to use it or not, and no matter how crazy or angry they are. There are more restrictions on owning and using a car than on a gun. I'm sorry - nobody not actively involved in a war needs an AR-15 or anything similar. Dad, as I recall, hunted with a .30-06.
The NRA has morphed over the years into the lobbying arm of the gun manufacturing industry, which donates huge amounts of cash to the NRA, which it then passes on, through carefully structured PACs, to Republican congressmen, who currently control Congress. Business Insider published an article on this in 2013; it isn't new news. OpenSecrets.org has a really interesting breakdown of where NRA money comes from, and where it goes, up to date to 2018.
It isn't just the gun manufacturers, either. According to NPR, the FBI is investigating "whether Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of the Bank of Russia, illegally funneled money to the NRA to assist the Trump campaign in 2016." Read the NPR article for more detail on this.
You and I can call our representatives and tell them we want stricter gun controls - and I do - but you and I can't match that kind of money. So nothing happens - until the kids from Florida stood up and said, #NeverAgain. And these kids will be voting in a very few years.
The tide is turning in the courts, too. In early 2017, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, upheld Maryland's ban on assault rifles by a vote of 10-4, with this comment: "Put simply, we have no power to extend Second Amendment protections to weapons of war." In November 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal of this ban, as well as an appeal of an open-carry ban in Florida. So the bans stand. States can ban assault rifles, and open-carry. I live in one that has. Unfortunately, California is right next to Nevada, which doesn't ban anything; so the traffic is still there.
Considering the NRA boycott war I began with, I don't think there's a question that those of us who believe in rational restrictions on gun ownership can out-boycott the NRA supporters. There are simply more of us - a lot more. We can't outbid the NRA for Congress; but if we make it clear to corporations supporting the NRA that they could lose our business if they continue, I believe we could have an effect. Let's try it.