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Could the NRA become obsolete?

December 19th, 2012
04:54 PM ET

By Samuel Burke, CNN

The NRA might run the risk of being obsolete, according to Eliot Spitzer.

The former New York governor says America's most powerful gun lobby has two choices: Either it can "revert to their normal posture ... and refuse to compromise," Spitzer told CNN's Christiane Amanpour in an interview Monday. Or, he believes, the NRA can pivot: remain strong gun advocates, but encourage their membership in to help limit certain gun rights.

If they do not, Spitzer believes the organization runs the risk of becoming politically irrelevant and their membership might drift away.

MORE: Getting a gun in Japan

As attorney general of New York State, Spitzer dealt with the NRA and sued the companies. But he believes the NRA members are less ideological than the organization's leadership.

"There is common ground there if you can break through the rabid leadership that was playing to its fringe," Spitzer said.

He believes compromise could be found in limiting the number of rounds American citizens can buy.

"There’s no way limiting magazine sales so that you have ten bullets and not thirty is going to be struck down by the Supreme Court. It isn’t going to happen," he said. "Those are nine real people as well. They understand something’s got to be done."

Following the massacre at Sandy Hook elementary, Spitzer campaigned for public pressure on corporations to divest from gun companies. One prestigious investment firm already caved.

President Obama on Wednesday said he will offer recommendations no later than January for preventing another gun tragedy like the massacre in Connecticut.

But Spitzer said leadership from the American president isn't enough.

"I’ve always believed it’s bottom-up. The grassroot activism is what leads - the major transformational movements in our country, the labor movement, the peace movement, the women’s rights movement and the war movement in Vietnam all began bottom-up."

Spitzer predicted that at the State of the Union, President Obama will make gun violence a centerpiece of his annual speech. "He will get everybody in that chamber standing up. It will be emotional; and by June of this year, there will be fundamental laws passed."

MORE: Tom Brokaw, America’s news anchor on gun violence

CNN’s Ken Olshansky produced this piece for television.

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Gun Control • Latest Episode
soundoff (52 Responses)
  1. E.L. Tapia

    Explain to me "Gun Control"? Is this a political talking point that will eventually take gun ownership away from the American citizen? Why is there so little talk from the press and political elite about comprehensive medical treatment for mentally ill people?

    December 19, 2012 at 5:09 pm | Reply
    • completelytoblamegunowner

      Because the REAL agenda is not SOLUTION driven. At least not the perceived solution.

      December 21, 2012 at 12:03 am | Reply
      • letmeeatcake

        completelytobeblamedgunowner, you are absolutely right. ban guns or whatever else, it won't change the overall sick mindset of american culture. plus gang-related violence is on the rise mainly because this administration encourages illegal immigration from violent south american. but if anything happens to you, just call 911. police will show up an hour later, ask a few questions and file a report...just hope the police are asking YOU the questions and not someone who found your body.

        December 31, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • letmeeatcake

      tapia, the reason the government wants your guns is so you won't be a problem if america goes into a depression era. the government will naturally keep all its guns. that way, if you are blocking the street rioting for bread, the president's armed motorcade can still clear a path to the golf course.

      December 31, 2012 at 9:24 am | Reply
    • johnh

      Mr Spitzer is a "former" politician!
      He is, from what his comments say, also an advocate of the limitation of free speech. He rails at the NRA.
      He says how the NRA would be better if it had a different mesage?
      Hitler was unhappy with the point of view of Jews, Gypsies, the mentally ill, Socialists and trade Unions!
      How did this man EVER GET TO BE A POLITICIAN in the USA?? (AAAH! .....It was New York!!!!!!) Nuff said!!

      January 9, 2013 at 12:02 pm | Reply
  2. IdahoMan

    The NRA has been backing gun-control.

    We are sick of it. They better start REPEALING gun-control for change, otherwise I hope members start burning their membership cards.

    December 20, 2012 at 7:52 am | Reply
    • TomGI

      Repealing gun control? That insults the children who died in Newtown so you can harp on that 2nd Amendment argument.

      December 20, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Reply
      • IdahoMan

        Nice try, spinjob.

        The media and antis have been over this incident like jackals on a deer carcass. It's the Antis and the MSM that IMO have been pushing these shootings. Then they bloodance and push their sick disarmament agenda.

        Gun-Control is a human rights violation. It's the tool of criminals to disarm their victims. It has never, never, NEVER been about anything else. Look up "JPFO" and "Death by 'gun control'" sometime, remember Waco/RubyRidge, and look at the slimy people who push/love it(Hussein, Bloomberg, Feinswine, Hitler, Mao, etc.). Wolves.

        December 20, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • zaskar

      Membership is up since shooting. I agree assult rifles should be banned but government sales them to drug cartells. How do you ban assult rifles when government sales them to criminals.

      December 20, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Reply
  3. IdahoMan

    The Gun Control Act of 1968 (or GCA68) is major source of pain. It put into law the "sporting purpose" language nonsense, Federal Firearm Licenses, maintains purchase records of gun-owners, and set up the ATF (a real Gestapo agency, and that is not a hyperbole).

    If NRA is the big bad super gun-supporting/pro-2ndAmendment org it is supposed to be, let's see them move toward repealing these laws and PUSHING BACK. What we have been seeing these last few days with the media is horrible.. It's like a "Gun-Owner's 'Kristallnacht'".

    December 20, 2012 at 8:00 am | Reply
    • TomGI

      BTW, didn't #41 rescind his beloved NRA membership over their campaign to squash the BATF?

      December 20, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Reply
  4. Robert Wisniewski

    I am the NRA. And i do not plan to become obsolete. Neither will I ever surrender a single one of my firearms. That being said, yes there are meaningful changes that can be made. Banning any particular type, caliber or configuration of firearm is not one of them. The 2nd amendment is not and has never been about hunting. Lets work on enforcing the over 26,000 gun laws already on the books first. lets also address the problems of the mentally ill and the lack of available treatment. this is something i have first hand knowlege being a nurse and working as a psych nurse for a number of years. Then lets work on getting getting princess Nancy and Diane and Mr.Lautenberg ou of Congress. Then lets get rid of the right wing nut balls that thing that God ordains the rape of women and young girls. Then we may actually may get someone in government to start working together and get lots of problems solved.

    December 20, 2012 at 10:52 am | Reply
    • 111ken111

      Try sleeping with your favorite gun abd suck the barrel while pulling the trigger. That will make for a safer USA.

      December 20, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Reply
  5. Justin

    As a member of the NRA I opposed there direct mailings slamming Obama and voted for Obama. However I will not become obsolete and will donate more money to the NRA to ensure knee jerk laws are not passed taking away my gun rights. The truth of the matter is if the 1994 assault weapons ban was still in place it wouldn't have changed any of the horrible events that happened at Sandy Hook. The "assault weapons" are actually just fancy hunting rifles, my brother in law deer hunts with one. Also, they are not easy to obtain. It took him 10 months and several background checks to get.

    December 20, 2012 at 11:24 am | Reply
    • IdahoMan

      "However I will not become obsolete and will donate more money to the
      NRA to ensure knee jerk laws are not passed taking away my gun rights."

      Given NRA's past, they my be the ones that get such laws past. Do this: Don't give NRA a cent until they prove they are actually going to FIGHT gun-control, instead of sell you out.

      December 20, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Reply
    • completelytoblamegunowner

      As an 'NRA member' you became obsolete when you voted for Obama.

      How you can square those two polar opposites (nra member & Obama supporter) is truly a magical thing!

      December 21, 2012 at 12:09 am | Reply
  6. Lar 5

    If the NRA thinks this horrendous massacre of little children is going to fade away like other incidents it is sorely mistaken. This was a day infamy and will never be forgotten. Millions of people like me will keep the memory alive for all the years to come.You can be sure of that! You cannot pull off your usual PR blitz. This time it will, absolutely not work.

    December 20, 2012 at 11:30 am | Reply
  7. Harvey Sarnat (Calgary, Alberta, Canada)

    A Canadian perspective: When will an American politician have the courage to stand up and articulate what is obvious to the entire civiilized world, that the NRA is a terrorist organization that is no better than Al-Qaida or Hezbollah and should be treated the same?

    December 20, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Reply
    • PaulL

      Except not at all.

      December 20, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Reply
    • IdahoMan

      "When will an American politician have the courage to stand up and articulate what is obvious to the entire civiilized world, that the NRA is a terrorist organization that is no better than Al-Qaida or Hezbollah and should be treated the same?"

      First off: "When will an American politician have the courage to stand up and articulate.." You mean commit treason? They are specifically PROHIBITED via our land's highest contract from getting involved in the people Rights to Keep and Bear Arms. No system of creating "prohibited persons", no setting up any kind of requirement on showing proof in order to exercise one's rights, or banning weapons. Guns are to be a non-issue: make them in your garage, sell them at the local hardware store, etc.. "Unfettered access to firearms" and "guns on the street" is a VIRTUE; the people pushing the opposite opinion are liers. The idea of "Gun Control" would not even be in the minds of people -and would be seen for the evil it is- were it not for the non-stop MSM propaganda.

      Second: "..that the NRA is a terrorist organization that is no better than Al-Qaida or Hezbollah and should be treated the same?" It never ceases to amaze me the shameless spin Antis always use. The Right to Keep and Bear Arms was meant to protect the people's rights, as a government that are the "Only Ones" that have guns become predatory, abusive and terroristic.

      PS: The NRA isn't the super pro-gun "monster" that the antis love to rant about in their make-believe/spun/lying world. A better organization is the GOA or JPFO.

      December 20, 2012 at 5:24 pm | Reply
    • Gast

      Harvey, as a fellow Canadian, just look at the wing-nuts who worship their guns. God and guns. They go together for too many people in the U.S. I live here. I see it. People are more worried about protecting themselves from their neighbours than taking care of their neighbours. They say these things happen because people have forgotten God. I would say that would be right but not in the way their thinking: the moment they start thinking about others and their obligations as a civilised society rather than their rights to bear arm, that will be the day that these tragedies will end. Unfortunately people receive most of their "instruction" from lobbies rather than education from schools. That's what happens when you don't pay teachers well and your educational system stinks. I've never met fuzzier thinkers in my life. It makes me sick. Fortunately I know a lot of great people that helps offset this wild west mentality, but again, look at the responses here. You'll never help them see they are the whack jobs in the eyes of the world.

      December 20, 2012 at 6:45 pm | Reply
      • IdahoMan

        "People are more worried about protecting themselves from their neighbours than taking care of their neighbours."

        Gast, self-protection is protection for everyone. An individual with the means to protect himself protects everybody as a whole. The LIES of disarmament that SOCIALISTS/COMMUNISTS spread are just that: Lies. A disarmed populous is the one at the mercy of the wrongdoers (be they common street-thug, or corrupt government).

        I get sick of them (that Antis) constantly, slanderously trying to push the notion that the Right To Keep and Bear Arms and "safety"(every power-mad tyrant's favorite excuse for everything) are opposed to each other. That is a lie, they just want power (and they bloodance on the bodies of victims like). Gun-Rights, individual rights = safety.

        December 21, 2012 at 12:03 am |
      • IdahoMan

        "..the moment they start thinking about others and their obligations as a civilised
        society rather than their rights to bear arm, that will be the day that these tragedies
        will end."


        It is because we are thinking of others that we "cling" to our rights so vehemently. And "..obligations as a civilised
        society..", "..wild west mentality.." I'm sorry, but believe you have been mislead by Marxist propaganda.

        "You'll never help them see they are the whack jobs in the eyes of the world."

        The rest of the world is caught up in serfdom and sliding backwards into a darkness that we spent many lives trying to defeat in the earlier part of the last century. They have forgotten the past or believed misconstruings of the current evil men who seek power. (Ex: You want a lesson in gun-control and what happens when only "government and the police" have firearms... look up JPFO and "Death by 'gun-control'")

        December 21, 2012 at 12:22 am |
      • jimbobogie

        As another Canadian, I'd like to correct a couple of misconceptions:
        1. Believe it or not, we are allowed to own guns in Canada, you do, however need a carry permit.
        2. If you're coming to Canada to hunt, you need to get the paperwork handled in advance, otherwise your gun stays at the border.
        3. We have also had people shot to death in this country.

        We're not all that different-just slightly more deferential.

        December 21, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
  8. TomGI

    I'm loving this debate. The ILA is beside itself trying to spin this into a fight they can win (yet again). But the truth is they have been losing support for some time and are really aligned with the GOP which is also losing support. The times they are a changing and their "death grip" with only 4 million members is slowly waning. They NEED a chunk of Democratic Party support and it to seems to be slipping away. They better come up with something super great and widely supported tomorrow or the trend will continue. I'm thinking they will push for the extreme and call for a national open carry law or a national CCW law. And if they do they move a little closer to extinction.

    December 20, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Reply
    • completelytoblamegunowner

      TomGI, just think how cool it will be after the 2nd amendment is gone, they can go after the 4th amendment. When that one is gone, the U.S. will be MOST awesome eh?

      December 21, 2012 at 12:17 am | Reply
  9. GMak

    Since it's inception, NRA has spun and distorted the interpretation of the 2nd amendment so cleverly that rumors must be true that it had inspired the likes of Josef Goebbels and Josepf Stalin, who took the lessons of the NRA's "Tell a big enough lie often enough, and people will believe it" to fantastic new heights.

    It has now become accepted in the American mind now due to the NRA spin, that citizens have unlimited rights to as many guns of every type as they could buy – "if it has a barrel and a trigger and can kill someone, we have a right to buy as many as we want." The NRA quickly dismisses the original purpose of the 2nd amendment and the important first half which frames the context "A well-regulated militia..." as non-existant. As far as we should be concerned, the NRA is no better than the Communist Party in terms of it's distortion of the truth.

    As a gun-owner myself, I am totally opposed to the NRA because it doesn't stand up for my safety or the safety of society. It has a great PR program about all the "gun safety courses" it sponsors, but its constant activities to oppose any kind of regulation makes like of that. Any mention of "control" and it automatically and hysterically puts its PR machine into gear to spin "regulate" into "abolition."

    I am in favor of what the NRA is not: extensive testing – both mental and intellectual – before one is then qualified to apply for a background check, which would include a mental evaluation. If this process takes 6 months or even a year, terrific. If that leads to a 90% reduction in the number of people getting guns, terrific. If that leads to a small, well-educated, well-trained, mentally stable group of elite people being able to own handguns and rifles with no more than a 6-round magazine, terrific. I am a well-educated, well-trained, mentally stable person, and I prefer to see only others of the same "caliber" with their fingers on a trigger.

    December 21, 2012 at 2:54 am | Reply
  10. T-Roy

    If you want to turn the NRA on it's head and deplete it's power, then here is what you do. You organize the Black and Latin members of all the major inner cities to immediately apply for membership in the NRA and begin registering their guns. When the all the remembers of the NRA see what they fear the most joining their club, they will quit the NRA and withdraw support. The only reason they want guns is to protect themselves from the Blacks and the Latinos. Why would they want to be in an organization that protected the object of their fears? It would ruin the entire agenda and cause the collapse of the NRA.

    December 21, 2012 at 10:30 am | Reply
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  12. Kenneth

    Mr. Eliot Spitzer can think whatever he wants but I will be rejoining the NRA after many years of not being a member. I have not felt like my Second Amendment rights have been at risk until a few days ago. Disarming law abiding Americans will not stop gun violence and I want the gun lobbyist to become even more powerful against the Obama administration.

    December 25, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Reply
  13. fred

    yeah, the NRA is in a lot of trouble. they only signed up 160,000 new members last month.

    January 28, 2013 at 2:50 am | Reply
  14. MrP

    Mr. Spitzer, the 13 year old girls you ordered are on the bus waiting for you

    July 7, 2013 at 10:58 pm | Reply
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