Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Guest Blogger
In the weeks since the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, the call for more action in controlling military style guns and large capacity magazines has increased, but as of yet, nothing concrete has been done on the national level. In fact, the NRA was recently quoted as suggesting that nothing will be done, once the country gets over the “Connecticut Effect”! “The National Rifle Association will wait until the “Connecticut effect” has subsided to resume its push to weaken the nation’s gun laws, according to a top NRA lobbyist speaking at the NRA’s Wisconsin State Convention this weekend.” Think Progress
I did not realize that anyone ever could “get over” the shameful massacre of 20 small children along with 6 staff members of the school they attended. Is this kind of statement from the NRA just hubris or is it indicative of a disgusting level of ambivalence to the violence wrought upon citizens when semi-automatic guns and large capacity magazines are allowed and allowed in the wrong hands? I know we have discussed the gun control issue many times here, but when I read statements like the one quoted above from a Wisconsin NRA official, my head explodes.
The Think Progress article linked above also discussed further statements made by Wisconsin Lobbyist, Bob Welch, that indicate that he has little or no concern over the violence of that sad day in Newtown, but rather is sad that there has been a delay in the progress of the NRA’s agenda since the Newtown shootings. “Welch went on to bemoan the fact that the public’s focus on Newtown was preventing the NRA from pushing such bills through the legislature, but his remarks soon turned to braggadocio about the NRA’s legislative influence. He relayed an anecdote about how, following the Connecticut shooting, a pro-gun Democrat in the legislature had mentioned his desire to close the gun show loophole. “And I said [to him], ‘no, we’re not going to do that,” Welch boasted. “And so far, nothing’s happened on that.”
WELCH: We have a strong agenda coming up for next year, but of course a lot of that’s going to be delayed as the “Connecticut effect” has to go through the process. [...] What’s even more telling is the people who don’t like guns pretty much realize that they can’t do a thing unless they talk to us. After Connecticut I had one of the leading Democrats in the legislature—he was with us most of the time, not all the time—he came to me and said, “Bob, I got all these people in my caucus that really want to ban guns and do all this bad stuff, we gotta give them something. How about we close this gun show loophole? Wouldn’t that be good?” And I said, “no, we’re not going to do that.” And so far, nothing’s happened on that.”
I was glad to read that the NRA’s massive amounts of money donated to politicians may not have as large an impact on the election process that they claim. “The answer is no, because once again, though the NRA may spend a good deal of money in total, it spreads that money to multiple races across the country. In the last four elections, the median NRA House independent expenditure has spent less than $10,000, and the median Senate IE only around $30,000 – numbers too small to have a real impact.
All right, but is the organization spending token amounts on a large group of friendly candidates, but putting its real weight behind a few high-profile races and producing results? Yet again, the answer is no. In the last four elections, the NRA spent over $100,000 on an IE in 22 separate Senate races. The group’s favored candidate won 10 times, and lost 12 times. This mediocre won-lost record, however, tells only part of the story. Let’s take one example, the largest IE the NRA conducted over this period. In 2010, they spent $1.5 million on the 2010 Pennsylvania Senate race between Republican Pat Toomey and Democrat Joe Sestak. Toomey won by 2 points, but could the NRA claim credit? Toomey’s campaign spent just under $17 million, over twice as much as Sestak’s $7.5 million. The NRA was one of a remarkable 62 outside groups that poured a total of over $28 million into the Pennsylvania race. Put another way, in the NRA’s single largest independent expenditure over this period, the group accounted for less than 3 percent of the money spent in the race.” Think Progress Justice
Maybe the NRA is spinning its wheels because the Newtown shootings finally tipped the scales of public opinion in favor of sane and reasonable gun control measures. I, for one, would hope that is the case. In light of the vast amounts of weapons being purchased since the shootings, and the continued violence, I am not so sure. The latest totals that I have seen show that at least 1822 people have died due to gun violence since the Newtown shootings in December of 2012! Reader Supported News
Does the NRA really have a significant influence on the political process? Will the Newtown shootings force Washington to do something about the gun violence in this country? What do you think? What do you think should be done?