Students must band together to fight against the NRA’s influence on unsafe gun laws

Jojo Wertheimer, Staff Writer

After the Las Vegas Shooting at a concert that left 59 people dead and over 400 injured, Senator Richard Burr expressed his condolences to the victims and their families, but only after receiving almost $7 million from the National Rifle Association (NRA).

But Burr isn’t the only politician who has accepted copious amounts of money from the NRA. There are eight members of congress receiving over $1 million or more, 39 receiving over $100,000, and 202 receiving over $10,000, according to CNN.

The Congressional Research Service reports, out of the 288 total Republicans in Congress, only six politicians did not receive NRA support, yet we wonder why no gun control policies are being changed after the 405 mass shootings in the U.S. by Nov. 25 in 2018, according to the Mass Shooting Tracker. Senior Phoebe Liccardo worked with multiple gun control groups over the summer and helped plan the ETHS Walkout in response to the Parkland shooting.

“When you see all of these Parkland students wearing price tags, that’s basically what [lawmakers accepting money from the NRA] is,” she says. “I think that’s the idea behind it, when lawmakers accept money from the NRA, they are essentially putting a very, very small monetary value on every single one of their constituents.”
There is no way gun control laws will be changed unless lawmakers stop accepting money from the NRA. Most politicians will not willingly give up money, which is the fuel to their campaign. The only way to change gun control laws is to vote out the Congress member, or pressure them to stop accepting the money. But after 405 shootings in the 11 months so far this year, it’s obvious that there is not enough of this pressure coming from the public. Young people and potential voters need to realize that it is now their responsibility to make change.

On Feb. 14, 2018, the day of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, Bess Kalb, a writer on Jimmy Kimmel, tweeted: “This is not a political issue. This is not a Constitutional debate. This is a pandemic that’s killing children. And it’s perpetrated by hypocrites who preach a doctrine of “life” but take money from a profit-driven gun lobby. @RoyBlunt @SenatorBurr @SenThomTillis @SenCoryGardner.”

At the end of October, Liccardo had a conversation with Daniel Biss, Illinois’ senator for its 9th district, regarding gun control.

“Basically Daniel Biss was just saying, if I got 100 of my constitutes to call me, and be like, hey gun control is an issue, I need you to fight for this, that would be a ginormous wake up call,” she says. “Not necessarily for him, but for senators in Lake County, to hear constitutes calling and asking about this thing as a state senator, that is huge. That is a large number of people.”

Besides pressure, students who can, need to use their power to vote. Lawmakers who are receiving money from the NRA are not in a position to be making important decisions if they believe their money is more important that the safety of the public.

On Feb. 21, 2018, survivors of the Parkland shooting challenged NRA spokeswoman and lawmakers at CNN Town Hall. Survivor Cameron Kasky asked Marco Rubio, a Republican Senator of Florida who has received over $1 million from the NRA, if he would receive any donations from the NRA in the future, according to CNN Politics.

“The influence of these groups [the NRA] comes not from money. The influence comes from the millions of people that agree with the agenda,” Rubio said, yet a 2018 CNN poll reports 70% of Americans favor stricter gun control laws, and a 2018 Quinnipiac University poll reports 67% of Americans support the ban of assault weapons. Young people need to pressure and contact lawmakers to let them know the public does not support the NRA’s ideas.

Students need to take gun control into their own hands. The safety of the public is not just an “adult” issue. Gun laws impact everyone, including those involved in the shooting. Informing yourself on what’s going on and figuring out how you want to vote counts towards saving lives.

If young people and potential voters do not use their power to vote out and pressure lawmakers to stop receiving money from the NRA, gun control laws will never be tightened and innocent people will keep being killed every day by a weapon. Student’s need to take responsibility for the lives at stake and use their power to make change.