Think The NRA Throws So Much Money Around? Think Again.

              The mail today included a new and interesting messaging resource for the gun debate, namely, a printed newsletter, The Brady Report, published by our friends at the Brady Campaign. It’s a glossy, four-page document containing brief stories about how the Brady organization is coming down hard on Gun-nut Nation as we gear up for next year’s national campaign. 

              I get almost daily mailings from the NRA, along with a clothing catalog and requests for money from Wayne-o who seems to think that the stink which came out of the stories about his financial flim-flams are a thing of the past. But this is the first time I have ever received a printed communication from the good guys on the other side.

              What caught my eye about the Brady newsletter, however, was a comment from Kris Brown, the President of Brady, who said this: “the gun industry has been making massive donations to their political defenders, making it nearly impossible to pass sensible, lifesaving measures or even to hold manufacturers accountable and put unscrupulous dealers out of business.”

              I’ve been hearing about these ‘massive donations’ made by the gun industry to their political friends for lo, these many years. With all due respect to our friends at Brady and in particular to a dedicated and committed activist like Kris Brown, I’m just not sure this so-called ‘massive’ financial support for pro-gun members of Congress is really all that massive or makes all that much difference at all.

              In 2018, the average cost of a Congressional campaign was $1.5 million for a House seat, more than $5 million for a statewide race. According to Open Secrets, the NRA gave a total of just under $700,000  to all GOP Congressional candidates, which means that, on average, each member of the red team got $2,500 bucks. That’s less than two-tenths of 1 percent of the money needed to run a Congressional campaign. Some of the key GOP leadership in both houses got more – Cruz (R-TX) gets $9,900, Scalise (R-LA) gets $5,450, but most of the spear-carriers are given a whole, big two grand for their campaigns.

              As for the gun manufacturers themselves, companies like Smith & Wesson, Glock and Sig don’t have a PAC.  In fact, even though they benefit from the lobbying done on their behalf by the NRA, in the greater scheme of things they don’t give zilch. The NRA‘s lobbying arm, NRA-ILA, gets its money from the same nickel-and-dime donations the NRA receives from its four million or five million or whatever number of members the organization claims to have.

              Let me make one point very clear, okay?  If the NRA were to close down tomorrow it would make no difference to me.  In fact, they would probably first try to sell off all their nice embossed polo shirts and I’d jump at the opportunity to buy a couple of their shirts at half price. But the argument they make about being the ‘first line of defense’ for the 2nd Amendment has about as much reality behind it as the argument made by Brady and other gun-control groups who claim they are the ‘last line of defense’ against the all-powerful NRA.

              The reason most red-state politicians vote pro-gun is because they represent constituents for whom owning a gun is no different than owning any other basic consumer item found around the house. The average gun owner who walks into my gun shop to buy another gun puts about as much psychic concern into that decision as he puts into deciding which lottery ticket to buy when he stops at the mini-mart for coffee on his way to work.

              Until and unless the gun-control movement confronts the fact that gun nuts don’t think of their guns as ‘weapons of war,’ or ‘threats to public health’ or any other fearsome sobriquet used to describe what is, to them,  just another adult toy, there won’t be the slightest chance that the gun industry will actually have to start putting its money where its mouth is to continue keeping America awash in gun.

Advertisements

The N.Y. Times Thinks It’s Been A Tough Year For The NRA. I’m Not So Sure.

              “Politically, financially and legally, the gun-rights cause and, more specifically, the lobbying juggernaut that is the National Rifle Association have not fared well in the Trump era.”

              Thus speaketh this morning’s New York Times, and if The Times says it, then it must be true. Except, it happens not to be true. Or it’s certainly not as true as The New York Times Editorial Board would like you to believe.

              And the reason it happens not to be true is because the gun-control community, of which The New York Times considers itself to be a leading media voice, knows as much about the gun industry as I know about the structure of the atom. And I didn’t take physics or nuclear physics in college, so I don’t know anything about the structure of the atom, okay?

              The reason I can’t get on board with the judgement of the gun industry’s impending doom is because the gun-control community invariably defines the ‘power’ and ‘influence’ of the ‘gun lobby’ as based on the activities of America’s ‘first civil rights organization,’ a.k.a., the NRA.  And anyone who believes that the health and welfare of the gun ‘lobby’ should be measured simply by the bottom line of the NRA’s balance sheet, doesn’t know anything about the gun lobby or anything else connected to guns.

              The NYT editorial board cites as its proof that the NRA is on the ropes the fact that, for the first time, election spending by gun-control groups (read: Bloomberg) was higher than the dough spent by the pro-gun gang. But before our friends in Gun-control Nation jump for joy over this unique turn of events, the reportage by our friends at The Gray Lady needs to be nuanced a bit.

              To begin, even when the NRA was priming the electoral pump by giving pro-gun candidates as much campaign money as they could, the average federal office-holder, at best, could only count on the boys from Fairfax to provide 6% of what the candidate had to spend. So for all the talk about the financial ‘power’ of the NRA, after a candidate picked up the check from Wayne-o or Chris Cox, he still had to raise almost all the dough necessary to fund his campaign. What does an average House campaign cost today? Try around $1.5 million or more. How much money did the average pro-gun House member receive in each of the last two Congressional campaigns?  Try less than $5,000 bucks.

              Where the financial imbalance between the NRA and its competitors really shows up, however, is in the amount spent on lobbying activities once a candidate takes his or her Congressional seat. Except the imbalance is so much in favor of the NRA that the notion that Gun-control Nation is beginning to pull abreast of Gun-nut Nation in the halls of Congress is a joke.

              During the 115th Congress, 2017 – 2018, Bloomberg’s Everytown PAC spent just short of $2.5 million on lobbying activities.  In those same two years, the NRA spent more than $9.5 million bucks. In the 8 previous years when Obama was in office, the highest yearly lobbying amount spent by the NRA was $3.5 million. And The New York Times is telling us that the fortunes of Gun-nut Nation have suffered under Trump?

              Finally, when we look at FBI-NICS background checks on gun transfers to gauge how gun sales stack up, the news isn’t all that bad. Handgun-long gun transfers for December, 2007 were 925,000, for December, 2016 they were 1,700,00, for December, 2017 they were just under a million and a half. That’s a month-to-month drop of slightly more than 10% from the last year of Obama to the first year of Trump, but it’s still nearly a 40% increase over the final month’s figure for another pro-gun President named George Bush.

              I’m not saying that it’s been smooth sailing for my friends in Fairfax this past year. But if anyone is thinking that the Gun-nut patient is on its way to life-support, think again.