The Charlotte News-Observer is out with a new series investigating campaign spending and candidate donations by the NRA and the “gun lobby”, but for some reason the paper doesn’t seem all that interested in spending by gun control groups in the state.

The NRA spends millions of dollars every year to influence Congress, primarily Republicans, and lobbies for loose gun laws. But what about at the state level? The News & Observer researched campaign finance reports to find out how much influence the NRA has in the legislature.

Gun control advocates are now routinely outspending the NRA in elections around the country, but I have yet to see one news story talk about the “anti-gun lobby” buying influence. It’s strange how politicians who support the 2nd Amendment are routinely accused of being in the pocket of the gun lobby, yet politicians who get money from Everytown for Gun Safety or Moms Demand Action are just “standing up for commonsense gun safety regulations.” As one lawmaker pointed out to the News-Observer, there’s a good reason why many legislators in North Carolina are supportive of pro-2nd Amendment bills, and it has nothing to do with being bought by the “gun lobby.”

“Liberals continue to push this false narrative that money from gun lobbyist groups is one of the main driving forces for Republican candidates, but the reality is North Carolina is a state where many people feel very strongly about their right to bear arms, and vote for Republicans who will protect that right,” Senate leader Phil Berger said in a statement emailed to The News & Observer.

Republican state lawmakers, unlike Democrats, do not necessarily see gun regulation as the best response to mass shootings. And they view the Second Amendment differently than Democrats, who generally support stricter gun laws.

“It’s that simple and it’s also understood by North Carolina’s voters that Democrats are intent on advancing policies that violate the rights of law-abiding gun owners. As elected officials, it’s our duty to protect the constitutionally provided rights of our citizens,” Berger said.

It’s a shame that the News-Observer decided to take such a one-sided approach to examining the issue of campaign donations and the 2nd Amendment, particularly since the paper did such an excellent job recently in its multi-part series investigating failures in the state’s criminal justice system that are leading to violent criminals returning to the streets after just a short period of time behind bars.

If the News-Observer staff really wanted to dive in to this issue, reporters should have taken a look at spending on both sides, not just pro-gun groups. As it turns out, the paper found that the NRA had spent less than $15,000 since 2017 supporting candidates in North Carolina. What about gun control groups? What about indirect support for candidates by gun control and pro-2A PACs in the state?

I hope the paper decides to revisit this topic, and takes a look at the side of the debate they’ve ignored up to this point. They might find that if money buys influence, it’s not the “gun lobby” that’s on a shopping spree at the statehouse, but anti-gun activists.