How much influence does the NRA have over politicians?


(NewsNation) — It seems Congress never fails to fail on any solutions to horrific school shootings, like the one seen in Uvalde, Texas, earlier this week that killed 19 students and 2 teachers.

Many wonder why it is lawmakers can’t even get the basics done to try and address these issues. One reason some are pointing to is the money it spends and influence the National Rifle Association has over politicians.

One of the largest lobbying organizations in the world, the NRA spends tens of millions of dollars each year on political races and ads. In fact, public records show the NRA has given significant amounts of money to every single sitting Republican senator throughout their career. It gave the most to Sen. Mitt Romney, with the Massachusetts Republican getting $13.6 million, or to campaigns against his opponents, over his career. Nearly $7 million was given to Sen. Richard Burr, and the list goes on.

Sen. Joni Ernst, who benefited to the tune of more than $3 million, deflected questions from NewsNation Tuesday about congressional action in response to Uvalde.

“You’d have to ask Schumer or McConnell,” she said.

Other politicians, such as Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, who used to represent a district that included Sandy Hook Elementary, the site of a 2012 school shooting that left 28 people dead, are asking their colleagues to take more action on gun control.

“Parents and kids in this country are panicking. They’re panicking that this continues to be the new normal, and Congress does nothing,” Murphy said.

Recently, the NRA bragged about spending $2 million on ads against President Joe Biden’s nominee for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and has lobbied against wildly popular simple background check bills.

Meanwhile, Americans’ opinions on gun laws are nuanced. According to the most recent Gallup poll, 56% of Americans say they’re dissatisfied with current gun laws compared to 41%, who liked the status quo. But when asked about banning assault weapons or generally making gun laws stricter, 52% of Americans now say that’s what they want to see.

TOPSHOT – A girl cries, comforted by two adults, outside the Willie de Leon Civic Center where grief counseling will be offered in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24, 2022. – A teenage gunman killed 18 young children in a shooting at an elementary school in Texas on Tuesday, in the deadliest US school shooting in years. The attack in Uvalde, Texas — a small community about an hour from the Mexican border — is the latest in a spree of deadly shootings in America, where horror at the cycle of gun violence has failed to spur action to end it. (Photo by allison dinner / AFP) (Photo by ALLISON DINNER/AFP via Getty Images)

And while more than 80% of people support background checks, the same Gallup poll also shows that more than 80% of people support owning handguns. Clearly, support for the Second Amendment is still strong. When it comes to assault-style weapons, it’s 50/50 on people supporting ownership of them.

The NRA put out a statement in response to the shooting in Uvalde, saying its “deepest sympathies” are with the victims.

“We recognize this was the act of a lone, deranged criminal and we will reflect on these events, pray for the victims,” the NRA said.

But the group is still hosting its annual conference in Houston Friday, though a lot of people have questioned whether this is in poor taste.

Former President Donald Trump is expected to be there along with prominent Texas Republicans such as Gov. Greg Abbott.

Houston’s Democratic mayor, Sylvester Turner, says some people want the city to cancel the NRA meeting, but he says they can’t break the contract.

Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke criticized Abbott about his planned presence at the NRA convention, saying in a tweet that if the governor has “any decency,” he will immediately withdraw from it.

On Wednesday, O’Rourke disrupted a news conference Abbott held, saying that he is “doing nothing” to prevent more school shootings.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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