Related to this question, asking about the motivations of the NRA, it seems appropriate to look into what the opposition says about the NRA. What motivations have those who support gun control assigned to the NRA's actions?

There is a specific distinction between the claimed motivation of the NRA, as seen in their mission statement, and the motivations assigned to the NRA by their opponents. In the latter, this could range from arguments highlighting how the actions the NRA has taken differ from the mission statement to insinuations towards the motives with an effort to attack their position.

A quality answer to this question would include citations to events where notable individuals or organizations that oppose the NRA have made efforts to ascribe motivations to the NRA that externally justify their actions or positions. The expectation is for more than "the fight gun control laws," trending close towards motivations that place the NRA in a negative light, whether explicitly or through implication.

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    @endolith This is not a duplicate of the referenced question, but a distinct question that approaches the situation for the opposing position. Commented Sep 22, 2017 at 19:51
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    @notstoreboughtdirt It is less about "truth," because it would be hard to say the truth without crawling into the heads of the NRA board members. There could be the stated position, a range of perceived positions, and the range of assigned positions. Commented Sep 22, 2017 at 20:04
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    @endolith I think this is more about how people who support "gun control" view the NRA, as opposed to the others being about how the NRA portrays itself.
    – Braydon
    Commented Sep 22, 2017 at 21:22
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    All, continue this discussion of differences on the Meta: politics.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/3197/… Commented Sep 22, 2017 at 22:11
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    Are you seeking a deeper answer than "gun control advocates view the NRA as wanting to fight gun control laws?"
    – user1530
    Commented Sep 24, 2017 at 17:09

1 Answer 1


Racism and Xenophobia

Racism is one motive often ascribed to the NRA and its supporters, either in the form of indifference to the desire of minorities in high crime neighborhoods to be free from fear, as in this New York Times op-ed, and also based upon their apparent indifferent response to disregard of Second Amendment rights when the disregard implicates a minority member (according to the Huffington Post).

The motive is also suggested by an author of an article in The Atlantic, which notes that the NRA was pro-gun control in the 1920s and 1930s. The NRA pivoted in 1977 following what is sometimes described as a leadership "coup" attributed to anti-Mexican xenophobia based upon the personalities involved in that leadership shift, including a former senior border control official.

A "what if" question asked in a CNN story tries to capture the intuition that the public feels different about black gun ownership (which is comparatively infrequent) and white gun ownership. I have seen myriad social media posts remarking that a black man openly carrying is likely to be shot by police, while a white woman, in contrast, is likely to be the focus of a parley with police trying to defuse a situation in a non-deadly manner.

The racism justification is reinforced by the nature of recent NRA PR efforts, which many critics in addition to the one linked have mentioned.

Distrust of Government

Closely tied to the racism and xenophobia justifications are a deep, almost paranoid distrust of government. In general, gun sales spike during administrations perceived to be pro-gun control and slump during administrations perceived to be anti-gun control.

In some cases this involves a perceived embrace of the right to armed uprising justification for the Second Amendment, and the related notion that an armed public is less vulnerable to tyranny.

An American Culture of Honor

Another line of reasoning points to NRA motives rooted in a deep seated culture of honor in parts of the United States where its support is stronger. Cultures of honor are often associated with weak states and hard to protect property rights, in which a reputation for seeking violent private revenge if wronged is necessary to protect one fragile property interests.

The geographic extent of the culture of honor in the United States (as noted in the earlier links) also has little overlap with the urban areas with the highest rates of gun violence in the United States (noted in the New York Times op-ed first linked in this Answer), so this explanation also embraces the notion that a culture of honor is not tempered by the consequences that loose gun control may have elsewhere which its proponents do not necessarily experience themselves.

Financial Ties to the Gun Industry

Another claim that has been made is that the NRA is driven to take the stances it does by financial ties to the gun industry.

Disagreement on Facts

Many opponents of the NRA acknowledge that the NRA and its supporters believe that guns reduce crime, despite often questionable evidence that supports this view (although the evidence that gun control prevents homicides is often weaker than its supporters suggest, even though gun ownership rates clearly do have an impact on suicide rates and accidental gun deaths).

Not Hunting

Most critics of the NRA, for example, one writing in the New Republic, do not believe that a right to preserve traditional hunting practices remains an important reason for NRA opposition to gun control. A writer at Salon makes a similar point.


I certainly don't want to claim that these are the only motives attributed to the NRA for its opposition to gun control, but they are some of the most common and some of the easiest to find citable evidence to support.

Also, while separate motives are set forth for analytical convenience in this Answer, most critics recognize that none of these motives or justifications are truly independent of each other and instead interact to create an overall worldview in which strong opposition to gun control is appropriate.

For example, a racism and xenophobia justification only makes sense if you believe that gun ownership is effective as a factual matter in preventing crime (at least against whites). Similarly, distrust of government and a culture of honor which is associated with a weak or ineffectual state, are not inconsistent motives and instead reinforce each other.

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    I feel that, while contributory, the following is insufficient to warrant it's own answer (especially being un-cited): A large motivator of any organization subject to potentially crippling legislation is the 'give an inch and they take a mile' argument. It's evidenced in organizations such as labor unions, where even the most worthless union member is protected fully, because the union doesn't want to set a precedent that it will allow certain circumstances to lift it's protections for its members. Apply that to gun control (AR's now, all guns later).
    – GOATNine
    Commented Feb 27, 2018 at 17:48

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