The money talk makes it sound like the NRA is a trade industry group like the Association of Auto Manufacturers or the American Federation of Teachers, who represent the financial interests of their members. (The gun industry has one of those, too: The National Shooting Sports Foundation.)
This distinction doesn’t make the NRA good or bad, but it’s simply wrong to look at them the way we look at, say, the National Beer Wholesalers Association when it comes to the issue of DUI laws. The NRA isn’t the beer sellers. It’s the beer drinkers.
Which is why it hurts informed ears so badly when pundits talk about the NRA’s power coming from its money—as though gun companies like Smith and Wesson have been defying the will of our democracy with their blood-soaked, ill-gotten gains. Please. America spent about $15 billion on guns last year, or one-one-thousandth of our national GDP. To put that number into perspective, Fortune.com reports that Americans spend far more than that–$23 billion—on pet food each year.