Gun control groups seemingly out of GA runoff race

Gun control groups seemingly out of GA runoff race
AP Photo

Gun control may not have been the biggest issue in the midterm elections last month, but it did play a factor. Groups on either side of the debate funneled money and other forms of support to various candidates in an effort to sway the election one way or another.

Whether it worked or not is a different matter.

Yet despite all the money spent, there’s still one race left to determine. The runoff race here in Georgia to determine whether or not Sen. Raphael Warnock will get a full six-year term or whether football legend Hershal Walker will take the seat.

Again, gun control doesn’t seem to be a major issue in the race. Then again, based on the ads I keep seeing from Warnock, the only issue seems to be “Football Man Bad.”

But it also seems that gun control groups aren’t as involved in this race as they were in others.

Gun group spending ahead of the Georgia Senate runoff has been decidedly one-sided.

With the election only days away, none of the three major national gun-control groups–Everytown for Gun Safety, Giffords, and Brady–are making much of an effort to influence the race’s outcome, Federal Election Commission (FEC) records show. The latest filings for Everytown for Gun Safety’s Super PAC show it has only spent $1500 for phone calls in support of incumbent Senator Raphael Warnock (D.). Neither Brady PAC nor Giffords PAC has submitted updated filings since the November general election. None of the gun-control groups’ websites refer to any new spending or advertising campaigns ahead of the final Senate race.

The lack of activity among the major gun control groups stands in stark contrast to the strategy taken by gun-rights advocates ahead of election day. The National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund has poured more than $3 million into the race on television adsdigital adsmedia placement, mailers, and text messages in support of Herschel Walker (R.), the PAC’s filings show.

Timothy Lytton, a Georgia State University law professor who studies gun politics, told The Reload that the gap in reported spending could be the result of differing strategies.

“I think gun-rights groups are probably doing more to craft a media strategy,” he said. “That takes a lot more dollars. The gun-control groups are probably trying to mobilize more volunteer networks in terms of getting turnout.”

The Reload’s Jake Fogelman went on to note that the race here in Georgia is very tight–within the most recent poll’s margin of error, actually–which makes turnout a big potential factor going forward.

Lytton also suggested that with the win over permitless carry, gun rights voters may not be as motivated to turn out, seeing as they’ve already won.

That could well be exacerbated by the Bruen decision. After all, guns won’t be heavily restricted here and can’t be at the federal level, at least with regard to Bruen.

I’m not sure if that’s the case, though. Most gun rights advocates I know tend to view the federal level as vital in staving off gun control entirely. Sure, we may be relatively safe here in Georgia, but for how long? If Congress passes gun control, Georgia won’t necessarily be spared.

Regardless, it’s clear that the NRA is spending and gun control groups aren’t. That is, I think an interesting development.

It’s also possible that these groups don’t see how they can do any good. Even pushing non-gun control issues like they did elsewhere, they might see them as potentially doing more harm than good.

Or, it could be as Lytton suggests, that they’re focused on volunteer mobilization.

Either way, the gun debate is set to play a factor in Georgia, even if gun control isn’t a driving issue.