Across a wide swath of U.S. media, the post-Newtown gun-control debate has centered around several important policy questions:

  • Would an assault-weapons ban do any good?
  • Do we need more background checks?
  • How would the proposals restricting magazines and assault rifles relate to Second Amendment protections?
  • Should we arm teachers and deploy more cops to schools?
  • What about printing the names and addresses of gun-permit holders? Is that cool?

Another aspect of the debate: motives. Do the National Rifle Association (NRA) and gun-rights advocates wield their talking points as a matter of constitutional purity? Or is there also some rational-actor economic behavior here, in which gun advocates are sticking up for an industry that has a lot to gain from weak gun laws?

That last question has received some attention. The Huffington Post, for instance,  published a story yesterday documenting how the NRA’s “crusade reflects firearms industry financial ties.” Dan Freedman of Hearst Newspapers asked, “Has the 4-million-member group shed its traditional identity as a defender of Second Amendment rights and become a gun industry political front?”

“Morning Joe” name partner Joe Scarborough went today right at this dimension of the story. It sticks out because it departs from the cow path that the cable-news gun debate has followed in recent weeks. Here’s the money portion of Scarborough’s rant:

And by the way, can we just break through the BS here? This is not for the NRA, about Second Amendment rights. Justice [Antonin] Scalia clearly laid out in [D.C. v.] Heller what Second Amendment rights were … made it very clear assault weapons were not protected by the Second Amendment. This is not about protecting the Second Amendment. This is about gun manufacturers making millions and millions and millions of dollars. This is about retailers making millions and millions and millions of dollars. Do you know how much money these people have made over the slaughter of 20 innocents in Newtown? Do you know how much richer these rich gun manufacturers have gotten over the past month, and how the NRA uses that tragedy to gin up fears, and Web sites use that tragedy to gin up fears that they’re coming to take your guns away? Hey, got a message for you: They can’t take your guns away — we’ve got something called the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Anthony [sic] Scalia said in 2009 they can’t come and take your guns away. You can have a handgun to protect your family. But outside of that, they can regulate guns.

(h/t Business Insider)