It’s not the NRA money, it’s the Gun Voting Block
Congressmen cannot be impressed by tiny NRA donations, but by fears of the gun voting block.
The total Congressional contributions of the NRA only amounted to $1.1 million. It might sound like a lot, but with 238 Republicans in the House and 51 in the Senate, totaling 289, it averages only $3,800 per candidate. Senators get more of the pie than Representatives. In the case of Irvine’s Mimi Walters, the $2,000 she got was on ONE-Thousandth of the $2 million that she raised for the 2016 campaign. Darrell Issa (retiring) is the richest man in the Congress, worth $250 million. The NRA’s $2,000 to him is less than 0.001 per cent of his fortune, that is less than ONE-one hundred thousandth of his personal worth. But it would cost him far more votes if he turned it down.
Another way to look at this is the total amount spent on Congressional Races in 2016, thanks to opensecrets.org is $4.06 billion. This covers 435 in the house and on average 33 in the Senate, or 468 races, with an average of $8.7 million per race. Out of the $4.06 billion, the NRA $1.1 million is 0.027% of total spending. For comparison, $2.39 billion was spent on the 2016 Presidential race. The NRA spent $31 million, which was 1.3% of the total, still very small.
Since one third of households in the country own guns, and a large portion of those may be personally invested in the gun culture, rather than just owning a self defense weapon, The NRA rates every Congressman, with Republicans typically having an 86% rating,and Democrats an 8% rating.
In the 2016 presidential race, gun owning households voted for Trump by 63% to 31%, and households without guns backed Clinton 65% to 30%, according to SurveyMonkey. This was true state-by-state. For those owning guns, Trump was overwhelmingly preferred in every state except Vermont. For those not owning guns, Clinton was overwhelming preferred in every state except West Virginia, but with too little data from Wyoming. This was the largest geographic split of any issue. Whites were 83% of gun owning voters. Trump won whites without a degree in gun-owning households by a larger 74% to 21%. He won whites with college degrees in gun-owning households by 60-34, almost the average for gun owners.
On the happier hand, the Upshot of the NY Times just before the inauguration polled on 29 ideas for gun control, and found that 85%-90% approved of highly effective: universal checks for gun buyers; bar sales to violent criminals; bar sales to mentally ill; and no sales to terrorists. Expand mental health treatment, good by itself, was also approved by about 85%, although evaluated as only mildly effective by experts. Universal checks for ammo buyers is approved by 73%, and is considered highly effective. An assault weapons ban was approved by about 67%, and was also considered highly effective. A high capacity magazine ban and a semi-automatic gun ban were both approved by 63%, and considered highly effective.
What the response to gun tragedies brought to light were Congressional attempts so sneak underneath the radar expansions of dangerous gun additions. The Las Vegas tragedy tabled the legislation to sell more effective gun silencers, which would give police extreme difficulty in locating a shooter. It also revealed the “bump stock” legal device that effectively makes a semi-automatic weapon into an automatic weapon. The Florida school shooting brought to light Congress working to legalize national recognition of concealed carry rights from any state. The problem is that some states have concealed carry permits on demand, and also will grant that to people who aren’t even residents of the state. Another anomaly was brought to light, that long guns can be bought by 18 year olds in many states, but other guns require the age of 21. This was meant for shotguns or single shot hunting rifles, but now includes semi-automatic AR-15 assault rifles.
Whereas my first conclusion two articles ago was that the gun industry was at fault, we now see that gun owners vote as a block to support candidates who are pro gun, even though many of these voters support universal background checks and improving mental health treatments.