These are the best of times and these are the worst of times for the gun industry and its lobbyist friends.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the civil unrest in several of this nation’s cities have Americans edgy. The gunmakers and sellers have been able to cash in on the public’s anxiety and fear, without even having to try very hard.
Gun dealers are reporting gangbuster sales figures. A recent article from the Memphis Commercial Appeal said that a stretch of pawn shops and other gun retailers in the DeSoto County suburbs can hardly keep firearms on the shelf. Business is so good that the dealers are having to hire extra workers just to keep up.
The reporter was not able to get figures for Mississippi from state officials, but in Tennessee the number of permits issued to carry handguns rose in July by 35,000, or about 5%, from the same month the year before.
The latest surge in gun sales comes on top of a nation already awash in firepower. U.S. civilians own an estimated 400 million firearms — better than one gun for every man, woman and child who lives in this country.
Who gets the credit — and blame — for some of this overgunning of the population? The National Rifle Association, which under the guise of protecting the Second Amendment has done the bidding of the gun manufacturers to scare as many people as possible into buying firearms.
The NRA’s executives have been very good at this, and allegedly they’ve rewarded themselves handsomely in the process. The lobbying group has drawn the attention of New York’s attorney general, who is looking into accusations of large-scale corruption and fraud within the organization.
A former NRA second-in-command says there is plenty to find.
Joshua Powell, who served as chief-of-staff to NRA top executive Wayne LaPierre, has written a tell-all book, out this week, that accuses his former bosses of squandering hundreds of millions of dollars of members’ contributions. He accuses LaPierre of enjoying a “billionaire lifestyle” that, at one point, included the possibility of using NRA money to buy a $6 million mansion in a gated community for LaPierre after he reportedly got nervous about his own safety. Powell himself has allegedly been a past beneficiary of some of these improprieties, too, although he denies it.
The NRA may be a corrupt organization. Further investigation will determine that.
It definitely, though, is an unscrupulous one. There is no worry — including the chance of a pro-gun-control candidate being elected president — that the NRA won’t try to capitalize on to sell more guns. It is an organization with lots of blood on its hands. Shutting it down would be a service to public safety.