We should begin by acknowledging that the current NRA is basically a slush-fund non-profit front for gun manufacturers who export death for profit, with associations to white supremacist policy, as Hasan Manaj masterfully explains:
What Hasan misses in his otherwise excellent segment about chaos at the NRA is an obvious historical angle. For example, when he discusses a move by the current US regime leader to overturn humanitarian rules meant to limit goods flowing to regimes that violate human rights…that’s a straight repeat of what Reagan did in 1981.
In case you missed it, I wrote about this in a post called “Ronald Reagan’s ‘Special Unit’ Soldier Sentenced to 5,160 Years in Jail for MASS MURDER”
Two months after news of the massacre Reagan un-blocked $3.2 million in military support to Guatemala’s army. The unblocking method used was crafty, as Reagan reclassified trucks and jeeps to transport Guatemalan soldiers to commit massacres. Military vehicles known to be used in the massacres no longer were under the human rights embargo.
Here’s another way to look at the topic from a current versus historic one.
We can tell a current news story about American gun manufacturers today accelerating the destruction of endangered wildlife. They are illegally and secretly arming poachers.
…precipitous decline in the worldwide rhino population from 500,000 in the early 20th century to fewer than 30,000 today, with the vast majority in South Africa.
A 2015 report by Small Arms Survey, a Switzerland-based research group, showed that the free flow of high-powered rifles and other weapons in Africa has significantly increased the scale of poaching. In turn, that has bolstered the illicit arms trade.
CZ and its American subsidiary, at a minimum, knew that the weapons it was selling were being used for poaching,” Ms. Austin said in an interview. “They knew and continued to look the other way as dozens, perhaps hundreds, of their weapons continued to show up in the hands of poachers.”
Or we can tell an historic story about the 1980s, where gun manufacturers perpetuated civil wars in southern Africa by illegally and secretly arming white supremacist authoritarian regimes.
In that context, the shift from killing hundreds of thousands of people (e.g. Angolan civil war) to destroying endangered species seems predictable for American gun manufacturers that disrespect regulations of any kind. Destabilization and conflict is a fuel the gun manufacturers use in their engines to juice sales numbers.
You may recall I wrote a blog post about white supremacists who destabilized neighboring states. When I hear Hasan discuss how America today floods Mexico with guns and opposes the United Nations role in stopping such activity, naturally I want to say this sounds familiar.
I think people might be shocked to learn in Hasan’s program that America today supplies the guns that destabilize neighboring Mexico’s government. However, I wonder if even more people would be surprised to find out this maps to decades of American policy.
Take for example a 1996 news story where the US gets called out for clandestine arms deals to maintain South African apartheid…by destabilizing its neighboring states:
The US indictment claims that Armscor, set up in 1977 to circumvent the United Nation’s arms embargo against South Africa and wholly owned by the South African government, smuggled military technology from the US in the late 1980s…South African ministers have threatened to reveal details of clandestine deals between the US and previous South African governments if the US does not drop the Armscor case.
Once you accept the NRA saw a massive political shift (a coup, really) in 1977 to completely oppose gun control, coinciding with South African apartheid forces circumventing gun control at that same time (United Nations arms embargo on South Africa was promulgated in 1964, mandatory in 1977), you get a different theme of how we ended up with Hasan’s program.
There’s a good case to be made here that the current incarnation of the NRA is a direct result of American gun manufacturers seeing a business/lobby opportunity to ensure the “existential threat” (end of apartheid) perceived in 1978 by South African government would face a heavily armed resistance.
Of course history throws some curve balls too. Ronald Reagan, as governor of California, infamously signed a Mulford Act in 1967 to ban guns. So how did this politician rotate like the NRA from prior to the 1970s being for gun regulation to becoming a poster-child of anti-regulation after the 1970s? Why did Reagan originally support regulation of guns in a democracy and then fight against regulation when guns were exported to obviously authoritarian even genocidal regimes?
The Black Panthers appear to confirm that Reagan’s position really depended on who was perceived to be exercising their rights (a common criticism of the NRA today).
So basically my issue with Hasan’s excellent program is that its international relations tone lacked historic perspective. History can seriously help inform and guide gun regulation policy, and a viewer probably would benefit from knowing why Oliver North was given such a powerful role in the NRA.
I mean just take for example how Oliver North is a kind of central act in Hasan’s story and Reagan’s Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages scandals aren’t even mentioned! Quick refresh:
…Sandinista revolutionaries overthrew the corrupt and repressive government of General Somoza…Reagan increased military aid to the beleaguered governments. El Salvador alone received $3bn, a vast amount for a small nation. At the same time, Reagan began to do all he could to engineer the overthrow of the Sandinistas…opposition to this funding grew among the US public. In 1986, the Reagan government, secretly and illegally, transferred to the contras the proceeds of clandestine sales of military equipment supplied to Iran…it seems almost unbelievable that these tiny countries could have been seen by Reagan as a major threat to US national security.
Stop for just a minute to consider that Oliver North, a beacon of de-regulation and free-market forces, is being pushed out of the NRA because he tried to regulate the excessive fraud and waste he found there.
It is from historic events we get better context to help find a true North, and to better understand evolution of the NRA from advocating for gun regulation before the 1960s to being against any kind of gun control at all in the 1980s.
Given what we know today about economic history of America’s gun industry exporting death it is amazing the NRA has been able to keep going on its post-1977 radically racist political lobby platform.
To recap, the NRA today represents gun manufacturers looking to juice sales by fomenting societal conflict, which apparently means opposing any regulations that impact profits, regardless of harms to people and their government. Hopefully at this point you’re not only wondering why they can run like this, but also who started it all.
And now I’d like to end by pointing out what the NRA really was created for and meant to do, way back more than a hundred years ago in the 1870s. I never see this topic discussed anywhere with any kind of real detail, so I posted it on this site as well.
Also, here are a number of other comedians who successfully rounded up the NRA chaos:
Bee’s explanation of the financial disintegration of the NRA because tax-exempt status may be removed, and manufacturers (vast majority of income) already are funding less
Colbert’s now famous comment:
I’m surprised the NRA was affiliated with car rental companies at all, considering Hertz and Avis enforce tyrannical rules like ‘age restrictions’ and ‘having a license.’
Cracked lesson on how in 1977 the NRA had an abrupt leadership coup, and drummed up some 2nd Amendment propaganda that had started in 1960.
Oliver’s piece on how the NRA actively prevents reasonable discourse (e.g. attacking lawyers)
Cenac’s exploration of NRA representation in American movies