At least 17 high school students are believed dead in a school shooting in Parkland, Florida. The suspect, a 19-year-old former student, had threatened his peers before, and collected guns at home, students told the Miami Herald.
The US’s political response to these tragic incidents has become rote—Republicans offer up “thoughts and prayers,” Democrats demands new legislation that stands no chance of passing.
America’s gun lobby has deep pockets. The National Rifle Association and its affiliates spent over $50 million in political advertisements in the last US general election, boosting Republicans who promised to support the NRA and targeting Democrats who propose stricter gun laws.
In fact, the pro-gun lobby spent over twice as much to fight Democrats ($34.5 million), as it did to support Republicans ($14.5 million). President Donald Trump, who tweeted his condolences to Parkland parents on Wednesday, was the biggest beneficiary of those ad dollars.
Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Congress candidate Deborah Ross topped the NRA’s list of “targets” in 2016. Every candidate the NRA on the chart below lost their race.
Many of the Republicans the NRA supported in the above races were running against the Democrats that the NRA ran ads against, of course. So one way to look at the total NRA impact on these races is calculate the total benefit to the Republican, as The Hill did late last year. Here’s their calculations, charted:
Separately, the NRA and affiliated pro-gun groups donated millions directly to individual politicians in Congress as well. Paul Ryan, Ryan Zinke, and Martha McSally were among the biggest recipients in 2016:
The NRA has a dedicated lobbyist, Marion Hammer, in Florida. She has helped make Florida a “laboratory for generating new types of gun protections,” as NPR host Terry Gross explained last year. This year, Hammer is pushing for legislation that would prevent local sheriffs from testifying for gun control laws in uniform. Meanwhile, Republican politicians in the state are pushing to allow guns in elementary schools and airports.