WATCH: John Oliver Scorches Lawmakers Who Won't Even Fund Gun Research

Human Rights

On Sunday, “Last Week Tonight” host John Oliver explained the bizarre stranglehold the NRA has on mostly Republican lawmakers. The organization is not huge, but they are extremely active and their message is simple and consistent. No gun control of any kind. It's so bad, “they’ve managed to block information concerning guns too,” Oliver said. “One of the major centers for academic research—the Center for Disease Control—has been hamstrung in studying how best to prevent gun violence for the last 20 years.”

In 1996, the NRA successfully lobbied Congress to put a specific restriction in the CDC’s budget. It's called the Dickey amendment—"named after both its sponsor Jay Dickey and the fact that it was an extremely dickey thing to do." The pernicious amendment has prevented lawmakers even having a debate about whether gun control works, since there isn't the data.

In fact, it was reported in 2013 that CDC funding into gun violence research had dropped 96% since 1996.

“The only other things that have dropped 96% in the last two decades are Lycos searches and 'Tickle Me Elmo' related stampedes!” Oliver said. “And it’s not just the CDC struggling to collect reliable gun related information. For decades the NRA successfully lobbied to prevent the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from having a database that is electronically searchable by name when tracing the origins of firearms.”

So how was the NRA able to accomplish all this? The NRA claims to have a membership of nearly five million, but, to Oliver’s point, “that is three million fewer members than Planet Fitness and members of Planet Fitness have almost no power but most of them don’t even have the power to go to Planet Fitness!”

So, what’s the lesson to be learned here? Call your congressman and show up, because the NRA sure will.

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