Why can’t the NRA be like Johnson & Johnson?

NRA is using a lot of fire power to thwart the Sensible Gun Laws now before Congress.

It frosts me this lobbying group, one of the country’s strongest marketing firms, hides behind the Second Amendment to help sell big guns.

Gabrielle Giffords, speaks at Wednesday's Senate hearings on gun control. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Gabrielle Giffords, speaks at Wednesday’s Senate hearings on gun control. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

I found a fascinating article posted Thursday on Rolling Stone Politics. I’ve tried to excerpt some salient points but it’s loaded with information about the NRA’s commitment to selling military-style weapons and why, and with details about the gun manufacturers on its board.

It’s frightening really.

Please read the article; “The NRA vs. America.”

Here are a two things in particular that rocked me:

1.  “Billing itself as the nation’s “oldest civil rights organization,” the NRA still claims to represent the interests of marksmen, hunters and responsible gun owners. But over the past decade and a half, the NRA has morphed into a front group for the firearms industry, whose profits are increasingly dependent on the sale of military-bred weapons like the assault rifles used in the massacres at Newtown and Aurora, Colorado. 

2. “The NRA’s board is stocked with industry brass. Pete Brownell, president of Brownells – an Internet arms superstore that features “ultrahigh-capacity magazines” … Another board seat belongs to Ronnie Barrett, CEO of Barrett Firearms Manufacturing, whose company produces .50-caliber sniper rifles capable of piercing armor from nearly a mile away. Barrett’s firm also sells scope-mounted ballistics computers that enable clueless civilians to hit targets like they were special-forces snipers. The ammunitions side of the industry finds a voice in board member Stephen Hornady, whose company peddles armor-piercing bullets and trades on the slogan “Accurate. Deadly. Dependable.” 

Also from the article, “The NRA insists in its publications that it is “not a trade organization” and that it is “not affiliated with any firearm or ammunition manufacturers or with any businesses that deal in guns and ammunition. That is a lie. NRA’s corporate patrons include 22 firearms manufacturers, 12 of which are makers of assault weapons with household names like Beretta and Ruger, according to a 2011 analysis by the Violence Policy Center. The report, drawn from the NRA’s own disclosures, also identified gifts from dozens of firms that profit from high-capacity magazines, including Browning and Remington.”

When I think of those killed by these “products,” if you will, I am reminded about the 1982 Tylenol scare.

Seven people were killed in September and October after an employee laced capsules with cyanide. While the culprit has never been caught, the manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson, has been credited with its immediate action, i.e., warnings on prime time news from the CEO, 31 million bottles recalled representing more than $100 million in sales.

Says Wikipedia,

“The company also advertised in the national media for individuals not to consume any products that contained acetaminophen. When it was determined that only capsules were tampered with, they offered to exchange all Tylenol capsules already purchased by the public with solid tablets.”

How can we, the American public, allow the NRA to avoid liability? Oh, the Bush Administration helped the NRA with that little detail, according to the Rolling Stones article.

As a marketer, I think of the companies that have had to change their corporate directions at best or simply alter their marketing strategies after the media or consumer groups pointed out the errors of their ways.

Even when people didn’t die!

When Johnson & Johnson’s product killed people, the company launched an immediate national campaign to prevent more deaths. When Audi brakes caused accidents and even deaths in the late 80s, the company responded by retooling. McDonald’s added salads and now a Happy Meal includes a book rather than a toy. Even big old Coca Cola is getting the message that too much sugar isn’t good for its customers.

Is the NRA greater than the cigarette lobby? I guess so. That’s scary.

And we are weak.

We want sugar, Big Macs, big guns. It’s America. We can buy whatever we want. And hurt ourselves with cigarettes, fat, sugar, gas guzzling vehicles …

… but I learned a long time ago that your freedom ends where mine begins. And I don’t want violence in our schools, my community, my country. No I am not a Pollyanna. I am a peaceful soul wishing for a peaceful world. I wish it everyday.

Talking about it will do nothing.

Contact your congress person and tell them you support the President’s plan to reduce gun violence. It doesn’t mean an individual will have to give up his or her guns. Here it is from the Obama-Biden email:


  1. Closing background check loopholes to keep guns out of dangerous hands
  2. Banning military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and taking other common sense steps
  3. Making schools safer
  4. Increasing access to mental health services

Forever there have been people who feel a need to wield power over others. Sadly, I don’t believe human nature will change enough for us to be a peaceful people. But we can work for peace in our own corners of the world. Please support the President’s plan.

5 responses to “Why can’t the NRA be like Johnson & Johnson?

  1. And I live in Tennessee! After the Connecticut shootings, the county to the immediate south and the one to the north of mine, immediately had their school boards vote to enforce armed officers in all their schools. I just want all the shootings, killings, gang activity and illegal drugs to stop. I pray for a peaceful world.

  2. The second amendment is clear: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. No where do I hear the pro-gun folks address how they represent a “well regulated Militia”. No where. Seems like in our time, a well regulated Militia is the National Guard.

    • Thanks for reading and for sharing your thoughts. I don’t know what to think about the National Guard as our militia since, in the event of a government takeover, the Guard would be on “their” side. Still, if we really want to use guns to take over the government, then aren’t we the same as the Somalians, the Syrians, the Egyptians who are using guns to try to overtake their governments? And aren’t we trying to get them to use the voting booth instead of weapons?

  3. Kris, I really appreciate this posting. I am amazed at what the far right continues to post regarding guns in this country. They, along with the NRA, continue to try and instill fear in this country instead of trying to help solve our problems. Even Wayne Lapierre on a Sunday talk show dismissed his own remarks from several years ago where he originally endorsed universal background checks for all gun sales. Now he is trying to tell us they do not work.

    • Thanks for the added perspective. If appropriate, please send this post to as many as possible. Only we, the people, will make a difference on this issue.

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