Five facts about money, guns, and the current Congress

Laura Curlin | June 15, 2016

June 15, 2016 - Here are five facts about money spent to influence the current Congress on bills to prevent terror suspects from purchasing guns and expand background checks for gun buyers:

  • Senators who voted in December against an amendment to deny the sale of firearms to suspected terrorists received 30 times as much money from the gun rights sector than lawmakers who voted for the measure. The amendment failed by a vote of 45-54.
  • Senators who voted in December against an amendment requiring universal background checks received 11 times as much money from the gun rights sector than lawmakers who supported the measure. The measure failed by a vote of 48-50. A similar measure failed in 2013, when supporters could not garner enough votes to override a filibuster.
  • The National Rifle Association, which has opposed both measures, has contributed $436,150 so far to candidates running for federal office in the 2016 election cycle. Almost all of the contributions from its political action committee -- 99 percent -- went to Republicans.
  • The gun-control sector, which has supported banning gun sales to terror suspects and expanding background checks, contributed a total of $6,250 to sitting Senators from April 2009 through March 2015.
  • Since 2008, the NRA and its Institute for Legislative Action have spent a combined $22.8M lobbying Congress and the federal government. Three of the leading gun violence prevention groups -- The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Everytown for Gun Safety (including Mayors Against Illegal Guns), and Americans for Responsible Solutions -- have spent a total of $6.1M on lobbying in the past eight years.
  • MapLight analysis of campaign contributions from pro-gun and anti-gun interest groups to members of Congress from April 1, 2009 - March 31, 2015. Contributions and interest groups data source:
  • MapLight analysis of campaign contributions from the National Rifle Association’s Political Victory Fund to the principal campaign committees of federal candidates for the 2016 election cycle. Total based on the latest data made available by the Federal Election Commission as of June 15, 2016.
  • MapLight analysis of federal lobbying disclosure filings from the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives from January 1, 2008 through March 31, 2016. Lobbying totals represent money paid by an organization to each lobbying firm for services on all issues. Organizations report total lobbying expenses as a lump sum, which includes both in-house lobbying expenses and amounts paid to (and reported by) lobbying firms that they employ. MapLight calculates a given organization's in-house lobbying expenses by subtracting the total income reported by the lobbying firms that it employs from the organization's total reported expenses. In general, filers may round their spending and expenses to the nearest $10,000, and we treat the designation of "Less than $5,000" as a value of $0. MapLight updates its lobbying database daily to capture amended filings. Full reports are due on the 20th day of January, April, July, and October.