Over and over again, anti-gunners lament the power of the National Rifle Association. The NRA, they say, buys politicians by the gross and then never lets them do anything but oppose gun control. In fact, the NRA is occasionally held up as proof that money in politics is a terrible thing and more should be done to curtail the free speech of Americans who band into groups to pool their resources on legislative issues.
However, gun control groups outspent the NRA in the 2018 midterm elections. They outspent them by a good bit, and yet the NRA is still accused of buying politicians.
Well, it happened again.
Prominent gun control groups are airing six-figure ad campaigns to pressure Republican Senators to take up gun bills, while the nation’s leading gun rights organization is practically invisible.
In the wake of back-to-back mass shootings in early August, Giffords, run by former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.), a survivor of gun violence, launched a nearly $750,000 ad campaign urging Republican senators to pass the House’s universal background checks bill. The Michael Bloomberg-funded Everytown for Gun Safety followed that up with a $1 million ad campaign urging action on background checks and red flag laws.
The two groups targeted Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who will decide whether the GOP-held Senate holds a vote on gun control bills when it returns from August recess. Both senators are up for reelection in 2020 and are expected to face well-funded challengers with hefty Democratic party support.
Meanwhile, the National Rifle Association, which opposes the proposals backed by gun control groups, hasn’t countered with an ad campaign of its own. The NRA’s ad spending has come on Facebook, where it spent less than $94,000 over the last 30 days. But these ads aren’t focused on the proposed gun control bills — they are recycled content that ask users to join the NRA.
Now, the NRA is deploying a few tools to try and win this fight without spending a ton on ad buys, to be sure, so it’s not like they’re rolling over.
However, we’re seeing anti-gun groups spending money left and right. Where’s the talk about getting money out of politics now? Where are the accusations of people like Sen. Chris Murphy being too deep into the pockets of Big Gun Control to be able to think for himself? Where is any of that?
Say what you want about the pro-gun side, but we typically figure anti-gun lawmakers have agency over their own positions and aren’t mindless automatons. Anti-gunners, on the other hand, are too deluded to think anyone can possibly think for themselves and reach a pro-gun conclusion.
Right now, they’re spending money on ad buys. I don’t know that it’ll make a lick of difference. If McConnell doesn’t bring the bills to a vote, they’re simply not going to happen. While they’re spending money in Kentucky to try and pressure him, I’m not sure it will.
Now, that’s not to say I don’t think McConnell will bring gun control to a vote. He might. I’m just saying TV commercials aren’t going to sway him one way or another and his constituents, even if the majority back some form of gun control, aren’t likely to vote Democrat regardless of what he does. If he does bring it to a vote, it’ll be for some other reason.
So they’re kind of wasting their money there. That’s fine. Money wasted there is money that can’t be brought to bear somewhere it might actually be useful.
What I don’t want to hear anymore, though, is all the talk about how the NRA has paid for politicians. Yet again, anti-gunners are spending more, which suggests that if the NRA is buying politicians, so are groups like Giffords and Everytown.