The National Rifle Association has taken center stage as the main opponent of the White House's plan to enact new gun control mechanisms at the federal level.
But the real battle the NRA fights is at the state level, where they have been extremely successful at loosening gun laws over the past decade.
A review of the NRA legislation news page has shown that the organization has had at least 230 full legislative victories on the state level in the past ten years alone.
Looking at the data collected about legislation that was signed into law, states passed an average of 4.8 NRA-backed laws since 2003.
Virginia tops the list, passing 16 NRA-favored laws since 2003. Other top states pursuing the NRA agenda include Mississippi (11 laws), Utah (11 laws), Arizona (10 laws), Texas (10 laws), Indiana (9 laws), and West Virginia (9 laws). These states have been predominantly controlled by Republicans or pro-gun Democrats for the past decade.
Several of the Democratic governors of these states — people instrumental in signing the pro-NRA legislation — have gone on to federal positions, including Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano (D-Ariz.), Senator Joe Manchin III (D-W.V.) and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.).
The NRA's political influence at the state level goes back decades. Since 1989, 31 states have implemented Right to Carry laws, one of the cornerstone policies of the NRA state-level push.
The legislation that the NRA advocates for is very diverse, but mostly entails the expansion of hunting rights, the ability to bring guns to more places, and emergency protections for gun owners.
Here are some of their most successful pushes of the past ten years:
- Twenty-one emergency powers laws, which forbid prohibitions or restrictions on firearms or ammunition in a time of emergency. These became popular after Hurricane Katrina in 2006, when the superintendent of New Orleans ordered the confiscation of firearms in the disaster region.
- Twelve Castle Doctrine laws. These laws state that if a criminal breaks into your home, vehicle, or business, you may use any manner of force against that person without legal liability.
- Seven range protection laws, which exempt gun ranges from noise complaints.
- Several laws designed to protect gun dealers from out-of-state sting operations
- Six state laws that forbid municipalities from limiting gun rights.
Needless to say, whatever happens at the federal level this year will not defeat the National Rifle Association.
Eight NRA-backed state-level bills have been passed and signed since the Sandy Hook massacre, so it's doubtful that the passage of the current proposed package will hamstring the NRA where they work most effectively: the states.
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