Friday, December 21, 2012

NRA response to reform after Newtown killings parallels big banks response to reform after financial crisis

The NRA's response to reform after Newtown killings bears a striking resemblance to the response to reform after the financial crisis by the big banks and their lobbyists.

In their column, Why does the NRA fear the truth of gun violence?, the Bloomberg editors look at how the NRA has successfully lobbied against transparency and shrouded needed information behind a veil of opacity. (Exactly what Wall Street and their lobbyists did before the financial crisis.)
A week after the gun massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, the National Rifle Association is speaking out. As well it should. If only the NRA believed in the right to free speech as fervently as it believes in the right to bear arms. 
Faced with government-funded research that contradicts NRA claims on gun safety, the gun lobby moved to defund the research and silence the researchers. 
When news reporters tried to learn which gun shops repeatedly supply violent criminals with firearms, the NRA lobbied to have gun-trace data exempted from the Freedom of Information Act. 
When advocates of transparency in campaign finance proposed the Disclose Act in Congress to require disclosure of top donors to political advertising campaigns, the NRA once again marched to the beat of its own 100-round drum: The organization obtained an exemption to keep its information secret. 
The list goes on. 
The NRA-backed Tiahrt Amendment requires the Justice Department to destroy records after gun-purchase background checks, making it harder to identify and catch straw buyers who work for criminals. 
As part of its war on information, the gun lobby has blocked efforts to put sales records into an integrated database, making the data more difficult for law enforcement officers to retrieve and organize, and complicating efforts to analyze gun trafficking patterns.... 
You might think, as we do, that the gun lobby’s aversion to information, and its success in securing congressional support for secrecy, poses a threat to public health and law enforcement (not to mention democracy). There is surely a case to be made to that effect. Yet it’s harder to document that argument thanks to the successful suppression of information. 
That, of course, is the point. In a study published in 1993 in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that the presence of a gun in a home significantly increased the risks of homicide and suicide. (A finding seemingly borne out in the case of Nancy Lanza, the mother of the Newtown killer, who was murdered with her own gun.) The study was compelling, thought-provoking and attention-grabbing. Was it conclusive? 
Hardly. But rather than trust in scientific principle and a free marketplace of ideas to sort through the data, the gun lobby mobilized to snuff out such research altogether. 
The effort was remarkably successful....
This is exactly what the big banks and their lobbyists have been doing.  Rather than trust in a free marketplace to sort through the data and see what was on and off bank balance sheets and stuffed into securitizations, the big banks and their lobbyists mobilized to hide the data.
These are the results of the gun lobby’s storied political muscle. They are not, however, the actions of a political movement confident that history, data or reason itself can support its agenda. Truth doesn’t fear information.
The same applies to big banks and their lobbyists.

In response to the NRA's suggestion of putting an armed guard in every school, Mayor Michael Bloomberg made a few observations.
“Their press conference was a shameful evasion of the crisis facing our country,” Bloomberg said in an email to reporters. “Instead of offering solutions to a problem they have helped create, they offered a paranoid, dystopian vision....
In his response, Bloomberg said the NRA’s suggestion of armed security at schools shows the group “continue[s] to oppose the most basic and common sense steps we can take to save lives.”...
Sounds exactly like what the big banks and their lobbyists did after the financial crisis.

The most basic and common sense step we can take to prevent another crisis is to ensure that transparency is brought to all the opaque corners of the financial system including banks and structured finance securities.

The big banks and their lobbyists have aggressively fought this most basic and common sense step.
Joined by survivors of gun violence Monday, Bloomberg said he hoped the tragedy would be a turning point in the debate about gun control.
In the same way that taxpayers were hoping that the financial crisis would be a turning point in the debate over the Geithner Doctrine (nothing must be done that will hurt the profits or reputations of any bank that is pretty big and/or well-connected).
Beyond Bloomberg, other local politicians responded harshly to the first public statement from the nation’s most powerful gun-rights lobby.  
Rep. Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, posted a message on Twitter: “Walking out of another funeral and was handed the NRA transcript. The most revolting, tone deaf statement I’ve ever seen.”
Clearly hasn't been reading the statements by the big banks and their lobbyists.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very interesting article. Thank you for showing the parallels between how NRA and big banks work to hide facts and information they consider damaging to them. We must find out why their modus operandi is so similar. I have every reason to believe that their way of functioning is product of common mentors, funders and think tanks.

You might want to read this blog post on NRA and gun violence too. It's at