• On Tuesday, an 18-year-old boy opened fire at a Texas elementary school.

    The death toll is 21, 19 young students and two adults.

  • In the United States, the shootings follow one another and resurrect the eternal debate on firearms.

  • But its supporters, guided by the National Rifle Association (NRA), continue to defend the famous 2nd Amendment, which establishes the right to own a weapon.

Children shot dead by an 18-year-old boy armed with a gun.

The drama that occurred in a Texas school on Tuesday is appalling and yet so common in the United States.

Columbine, Sandy Hook, and now Uvalde.

"It's time to turn pain into action," defended US President Joe Biden from the outset, during a solemn address given at the White House.

And like all the previous shootings, the killing of Uvalde did not escape the awakening of the painful debate on weapons in the United States.

“When, for God's sake, are we going to face the gun lobby?

“, continued Joe Biden during his speech.

Fiercely opposed to carrying arms since the start of his presidency in January 2021, the tenant of the White House described himself as “sickened and tired” in the face of the litany of school shootings.

An impossible change

However, this tragedy is not likely to upset America tomorrow.

For Joe Biden, saying we need to toughen gun policy is one thing, getting there is another.

“The very structure of the American government makes it easier to play defensive than offensive,” compares Francis Langlois, associate member of the Observatory on the United States in Canada and specialist in firearms policies.

Before explaining: “It is better to block a bill than to propose one.

All the gun lobby has to do is convince enough people not to vote for certain bills.”

Already in 2012, Barack Obama and his vice-president – ​​the same Joe Biden – had sought to control firearms in the United States.

Describing the trial as "rather modest", the specialist Francis Langlois returns to a political failure orchestrated by a powerful lobby: "The National Rifle Association (NRA) had succeeded in convincing enough senators - 45 - for the bill to have the minimum of 60 required to pass this law.

The same thing is going on right now.

President Biden has proposed legislation to tighten control, but he can't get a majority.

A successful infiltration

A true powerhouse of firearms lobbies, the NRA is certainly one of the most powerful networks in America.

However, according to Francis Langlois, the lobby does not necessarily derive its power from a colossal fortune, “unlike pharmaceutical companies for example”.

Where the NRA has been able to show its strength is rather with its ability to mobilise.

“From the 1970s and 1980s, it managed to infiltrate and enter all levels of American politics, whether state or federal.

It has a network of very effective lobbyists,” summarizes the historian specializing in the United States.

But for the past few months, the NRA has been losing momentum after many unlucky cases for the association.

Last August, the State of New York, for example, announced that it was filing a complaint for financial fraud against its boss Wayne LaPierre and several other leaders, accused of massive fraud and major embezzlement.

Threatened with a loss of $63 million, the NRA escaped dissolution.

But two months earlier, the NRA declared itself bankrupt anyway to protect itself from the sanctions that they risked in the State of New York.

Because, beyond the question of justice, the NRA is in bad financial shape.

“The association had quite substantial income through the sale of various products including insurance against lawsuits for negligence [after a tragedy that occurred during the use of a firearm].

Except that most states have started to think about the excessive use of weapons and have abolished this authorization, when it was a great source of income, ”notes our interlocutor.

Other more radical associations

Faced with the risk of corruption, some members sometimes decide to jump ship.

“We see associations everywhere in the United States that are in the process of overtaking the NRA on the right.

They take even more extreme positions on gun liberalization and accuse the NRA of being a puppet in the hands of the government.

These partisans say that they no longer need the umbrella of the NRA”, underlines Francis Langlois.

A more radical message in an America divided on bearing arms.

Yet, according to the expert, "whether pro or anti-gun, many remain convinced that a constitutional amendment cannot be changed and most people agree that someone can carry a gun.

But they are for tougher gun control.

»

A few days before the annual Congress of the NRA, Francis Langlois says he is convinced that the Texas massacre will not change the discourse heard among the pro-arms.

“The debate could even go even further into deregulation,” he concludes.

The NRA's idea?

Minimize state intervention on the 2nd Amendment.

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