NEWS

Detailed Look at How the NRA Spends Millions to Push Gun Agenda in Washington

The massacre in Las Vegas, where a lone individual gunned down at least 58 people and wounded hundreds more, focused attention once more on the powerful National Rifle Association, which successfully has helped deflect calls to strengthen gun laws after every mass killing.

After helping to elect Donald Trump as president and keep Republicans in control on Capitol Hill, the NRA then applauded as congressional Republicans voted to repeal regulations designed to keep weapons out of the hands of those with mental problems.

A House committee also voted to make it easier to buy gun silencers and armor-piercing bullets, and lawmakers are considering legislation that would override states like New Jersey that do not honor concealed carry permits from other states.

Here’s a detailed look at how the NRA spreads millions to get its way in Washington. 

Nobody spends more

The National Rifle Association spent more money on politics in 2016 than any other interest group, $55 million in independent expenditures, political action committee contributions and communications with its members. according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based research group.

Almost all of that money went to support Republican candidates.

“They’re rich and that makes them powerful if money is what you respond to,” said Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-12th Dist., who helped lead a House Democratic sit-in last year to force votes on gun legislation, including restricting those on the terrorist watch list from buying weapons and requiring background checks for purchases online and at gun shows.

“I think the leadership in this Congress responds to it enough to not let us debate issues of just common sense gun legislation, just common sense gun safety, to talk about the safety snd security of citizens in this country.” she said.

Going all in for Trump

The NRA spent $31 million to elect Trump, more than double the $14 million the gun rights group spent in 2012 on behalf of Republican nominee Mitt Romney. At one point, ads funded by the NRA and a super political action committee were the only pro-Trump commercials on television.

“You came through for me, and I am going to come through for you,” Trump told the NRA at its annual convention in April.

4 N.J. lawmakers have gotten support from gun groups

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-11th Dist., has received $10,400 from gun rights groups throughout his congressional career, more than any other federal lawmaker from New Jersey, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Rep. Tom MacArthur, R-3rd Dist., was second with $9,280, including more than $7,000 in independent expenditures on his behalf. Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-2nd Dist., received $5,400 and Rep. Leonard Lance, R-7th Dist., $1,000.

LoBiondo said on Twitter that he has “always refunded or donated contributions” from the NRA.

The one N.J. race the NRA lost

The NRA spent almost $24,000 on behalf of Republican incumbent Scott Garrett in the 5th Congressional District last year. Garrett was defeated by Democrat Josh Gottheimer.

The gun rights organization didn’t lose very often; its favored candidate won 73 percent of the time last year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Who gets the most money from gun rights advocates

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has received $346,497 in donations from gun rights groups over his congressional career, more than any other federal lawmaker, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

The No. 2 Senate Republican, Assistant GOP Leader John Cornyn, R-Texas, was fourth with $189,325.

NRA vs. gun control groups? It’s no contest.

The NRA spent $3.2 million on lobbying expenses during the first six months of 2017. That’s how much they spent in all of 2016.

Gun rights groups in total spent $5.8 million from January to June, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. That’s more than six times the $868,668 spent by groups that support gun control.

Who is supported by gun control groups?

Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-5th Dist., received $8,373 from supporters of gun regulations, making him the 17th biggest receipient in 2016, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

By Jonathan D. Salant