This article was last updated on April 16, 2022
With mass shootings being a relatively common occurrence in the United States and with Congress seemingly unable to do anything about it, data from Open Secrets provides us with a glimpse into the interest group funding underbelly of Washington, particularly as it relates to campaign donations.
Let's start by looking at the number of gun violence deaths and mass shootings in the United States from data supplied by the Gun Violence Archive (GVA) for 2019:
Here's a graphic showing the same data for 2020 (thus far):
For your information, GVA defines mass shootings as a situation where more than four people are killed or shot, excluding the shooter.
Here is a table showing the same data for the years between 2014 and 2018:
Now, with this data in mind, let's look at how America's federal politicians have benefitted from the pro-gun lobby, particularly the National Rifle Association.
Here is a table showing the total donations made to federal political candidates by the NRA going back to 1990:
Over the nearly three decade period, the NRA donated a total of $22,927,297 to candidates of both parties with 84 percent of the total going to Republican candidates and 15 percent going to Democratic candidates.
Let's look at the last two election cycles as well as what has happened to the NRA's donations during the current 2020 presidential election cycle. Here is a list of federal candidates that received more than $2500 from the NRA (either through their PACs or individual members) during the 2016 presidential election cycle from data provided by Open Secrets:
During the 2016 election cycle, the NRA made donations to 241 candidates running for seats in Congress; 218 who where running for seats in the House and 23 who were running for seats in the Senate or 45 percent of all seats available. During the 2016 election, the NRA donated a total of $1,096,659 to federal political candidates with 99 percent of the total ($1,082,659) going to Republican candidates and 1 percent ($10,500) going to Democratic candidates as listed here:
Here is a list of federal candidates that received more than $2500 from the NRA during the 2018 election cycle:
During the 2018 election cycle, the NRA made donations to 204 candidates running for seats in Congress; 196 who were running for seats in the House and 8 who were running for seats in the Senate or 38 percent of all seats available. Once again, Republican candidates were the winners when it came to campaign funding by the NRA with 98 percent of the organization's total donations of $880,521 going to the Republicans and only 2 percent or $19,504 going to Democratic candidates.
Finally, let's look at the current 2020 presidential election cycle. Thus far, the NRA has donated $249,985 to candidates of both parties with Republican candidates receiving 99 percent of the total or $249,985and Democratic candidates receiving only 1 percent of the total or $2,675. Here are the top recipients (donations totalling $2000 or more) from both Chambers of Congress:
Thus far, the NRA has donated to 128 candidates running for seats in Congress; 128 who are running for seats in the House and 13 who are running for seats in the Senate or 26 percent of all seats available.
When one looks at this data, it is quite clear why gun legislation in the United States is unlikely to change in any meaningful way, particularly with America being as politically polarized as it is. The National Rifle Association knows that its financial assistance to the campaigns of roughly one-quarter to one-half of men and women running for seats in Congress are going to pay off for its membership, after all, Congress has long proven that it will not bite the hand that is feeding it.
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