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These “thoughts and prayers” for gun violence victims are paid for by the NRA

Reuters/Joshua Roberts
Paul Ryan received $2,000 from the NRA during the 2014 election cycle to make sure victims of gun violence receive “thoughts and prayers,” and nothing else.
  • Jake Flanagin
By Jake Flanagin


Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

On Wednesday, Dec. 2, several heavily armed individuals entered a social-services center in San Bernardino, California and opened fire on a holiday party, killing 14 people and wounding more than 20 others. This came on the heels of a Nov. 27 attack on a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Both instances are only the most recent tragedies in a year of violence—in the United States, there have been more shootings so far in 2015 than days.

Needless to say, Americans are shocked, appalled, fearful, and not a little exhausted. Exacerbating that fatigue is what some describe as a dog-and-pony show put on by politicians—particularly conservative politicians—in the wake of such events. Within hours of any mass shooting on American soil, dozens of senators and congressional representatives take to social media to express their concern. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims,” they lament.

It’s a sentiment that is ringing increasingly hollow to many Americans; most acutely in situations where the so-called sympathizer is a known advocate for the National Rifle Association (NRA), the most powerful gun-rights lobbying group in the country. Igor Volsky, director of video and a contributing editor at ThinkProgress (published by the Center for American Progress), is one such skeptic.

Following the events in San Bernardino, Volsky surveyed the Twitter accounts of prominent conservative politicians, annotating their calls for “thoughts and prayers” with some cold, hard facts regarding their affiliation with the NRA—namely how much money each has received from the organization, information which is available to the public.

For these senators, members of Congress, and even 2016 presidential candidates, their thoughts and prayers may indeed be with the victims of the San Bernardino shootings and their families. But their votes are most certainly with the NRA.

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