I never expect an outlet named Bloomberg to be balanced when writing about gun issues. It’s owned by Michael Bloomberg, for crying out loud. Of course, there’s going to be an anti-gun bias in its reporting and commentary on the issue.
Its latest effort is to claim the National Rifle Association (NRA), despite massive amounts spent on lobbying, accomplished little last year.
The National Rifle Association, one of most powerful lobbying organizations in Washington, did little to advance its agenda over the past two years even with a gun-friendly president in the White House and a Republican-controlled Congress.
The group spent a record $9.6 million lobbying lawmakers and federal agencies over the last two years, federal disclosures show, up from $5.9 million the previous two years.
Yet it had few legislative victories to show for its efforts. None of its top five bills was signed into law. And now that Democrats control the U.S. House of Representatives, the NRA will likely be playing defense for the next two years.
The lack of legislative results comes after the organization also saw a 15 percent drop in revenue, which declined to $312 million in 2017 from $367 million in 2016, the NRA’s most recent tax filing shows. The fundraising slump could be linked to a sense of complacency coming from having Republicans controlling Washington, membership recruiters say.
The NRA also wielded a smaller purse in the 2018 midterm elections: The group and its political arm spent just $10 million, a 64 percent drop from the $28 million it contributed to races in 2014 and a fraction of the $55.6 million it spent in 2016 to help elect Donald Trump and other Republicans.
The NRA declined to comment.
Now, Bloomberg is right that pro-gun laws didn’t get passed at the national level. That’s problematic in a lot of ways and for a lot of people. But it’s not fair to say that the NRA accomplished little.
For example, just a smidge under a year ago, there was a third high-profile mass shooting that changed the political landscape. Following Parkland, every leftist organization imaginable joined with the anti-gun groups to enlist their media allies and began a full-court press on guns.
This forced the NRA, and gun rights advocates in general, to go on the defensive. The combination of Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs, and then Parkland created an anti-gun trifecta. The wall-to-wall coverage of guns and commentary by anti-gun activists who got softball interviews by friendly hosts began shifting the public’s view of firearms.
The NRA had to go on the defensive, and guess what happened?
Oh, we got a bump stock ban by the Trump administration that has a lot of people, myself included, upset. But we didn’t get the bill that would have lumped bump stocks in with things like competition triggers, binary triggers, and anything else under the broad umbrella of “allows you to shoot faster.” That got knocked down in part because of the political cover the NRA gave the Trump administration for the move.
While Bloomberg does mention the NRA’s spending during the Kavanaugh hearings, it’s an important victory and a key win. Further, that spending may have saved the Senate from the much-anticipated “Blue Wave” that wasn’t.
Yes, the Democrats will pass a whole slew of gun control bills, but without the Senate, where are they going to go?
Maybe it’s just me, but that’s a significant win.
No, they didn’t gain us any ground on gun rights, but we didn’t lose nearly as much as we might have.