I recently called a friend who lives alone in Oakland, a neighbourhood of San Francisco which has one of the highest murder rates in the nation. A former journalist, who now works for the American Civil Liberties Union, she tells me she is considering purchasing a gun for self-defence. Not so much if Donald Trump wins the November election, but more if he loses and refuses to leave office. The day Trump won in 2016, I remember calling her and you could hear the looting going on outside her newspaper office. She fears the same will happen again, and wants to be prepared.
In 2016, the NRA spent more than $30 million on behalf of the Trump campaign, according to Federal Election Commission data. Despite its deepening financial crisis, with 200 forced layoffs at its Virginia HQ, and the civil lawsuit filed against its executive vice-president Wayne LaPierre, alleging fraud, financial misconduct and misuse of charitable funds, calls for the dissolution of the association due to chronic fraudulent management seem to fall on deaf ears. The NRA is still a major backer of the Republican movement in 2020.
You can be sure the gun rights group will take aim to recruit women this presidential election in swing states such as North Carolina, Florida, Michigan, Georgia and Ohio. It’s female voters here who will decide who gets to be president.
Some, like air force veteran, second amendment proponent and Florida Republican Anna Paulina Luna, are the new faces of nrawomen.com, trying to convince women that buying a firearm is an empowering, personal choice.
NRA Women promotes everything from gunmaker Ruger’s “Vote 2020 10/22 Carbine” collector’s item, to hot pink rifle parts made by Bear Creek Arsenal to promote Breast Cancer Awareness month this October. Other websites such as agirlandagun.org claim their membership has surged this year, while thewellarmedwoman.com, offers tips on trigger protection for soft holsters and fashion advice to help conceal a weapon.
It still astounds me. In the 10 years I lived in the US I never got used to the gun thing. US gun owners claim they make them feel safer. I felt the opposite.
My US-born son is now 18, and voted for the first time this US election. While resisting the urge to tick the box for rapper Kanye West who was on the California ballot for vice-president for the America Independent Party, he told me he was grateful to have grown up in Australia, to have gone to school in a nation free from mass shootings, and the threat – nay, an NRA-floated idea after the 2018 Parkland school shooting – to have gun-toting teachers and school security guards.
He feels guns to Americans are what gambling is to Australians. I remember his father, the first time he came to Australia more than 20 years ago, doing a double-take when he walked into a TAB betting shop, much like my reaction to finding guns in a supermarket.
It’s true; firearms have a hold on the US national psyche in the way gambling has on ours. Both industries have extraordinary political influence in their respective countries, and are both deadly. Guns kill people quickly, while gambling is a slow death by addiction. As a dual citizen, my son’s wagering a bet that whoever wins on November 3, it will end with some sort of shoot-out.