Our major media sources have been disturbingly superficial in their published commentaries, reports and essays on gun violence. They note that despite a majority of Americans, even gun-owners, supporting increased background checks, even that a very modest form of gun control, Congress won’t pass such legislation. The common story is that the NRA buys enough members of Congress to prevent such legislation from passing, or even get out of committee. Bemused remarks about the relatively small membership size of the NRA imply a false assumption that the majority of NRA funding comes from individual membership dues. In fact the majority of NRA funding comes from the gun manufacturing industry, and they are surely opposed to enhanced gun control as it will reduce sales of guns and ammunition. However, the threat of coming gun control and perceptions of increasing crime both result in more gun sales, so the gun industry is actually materially supported by gun massacres and mass-shootings. A gun massacre hits all the right spots for an ad campaign for a gun in the eyes of the gun industry – persons feel unsafe and buy guns, and in the conversations after the massacre stricter gun control is floated as an idea, and people buy more guns before the legislation is enacted, though it never is.
So the lack of gun control is largely attributable to the spending power of the gun industry. The American government contributes to this spending power by buying a whole lot of guns for law enforcement agencies and the military. The government buys guns and expensive ammunition for its military forces around the world, and for transfers to militarizing police departments through the 1033 program and Urban Areas Security Initiative grants. The gun manufacturers make public and non-public contributions to the NRA and other gun lobbyists, who materially support politicians’ campaigns and lifestyles. The reason for the incredible influence of the gun lobby on politicians is not as mysterious as the mainstream media would have us believe, though the flows of influence are more complex than they suggest.
It is worth noting that the majority of gun sales come from private citizens, and not the government. This is of course striking because it means that the American public buys more guns than a government at war (though this says nothing about the brutality of our war when it is conducted mainly by bombing campaigns). But it is also revealing as to why gun manufacturers are not going to accept gun control measures and sell their products of death predominantly to the government – there is a lot of money to be made selling guns to a civilian population that is scared to death of itself due to the subliminal forces of racist fear mongering in its institutions, and class tensions from the status of chaos inaugurated by neoliberal policies that gutted the nation of its social bonds.