Lobbyists Profited Big Time From Sandy Hook Shooting

Almost a year after the Newtown tragedy, something has changed. But it’s not what many expected.

US President Barack Obama hugs Newtown shooting victim relative Natalie Barden as James Barden (R) looks on after speaking on gun control on April 17, 2013 in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC.  
National Journal
Brian Resnick
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Brian Resnick
Dec. 9, 2013, 10:55 a.m.

After the tragedy at Sandy Hook Ele­ment­ary School last year, something was sup­posed to change. The murder of 20 chil­dren, a na­tion ex­pec­ted, would give rise to a dif­fer­ent kind of polit­ic­al cli­mate.

Be­fore New­town, gun con­trol was al­ways seen as a non­starter. Even after the shoot­ing ram­page in Au­rora, Colo., in Ju­ly 2012, or after former Rep. Gab­ri­elle Gif­fords was shot in broad day­light in 2011, noth­ing really moved.

But after Sandy Hook, head­lines read, “Conn. tragedy seems to stand out,” in the Ari­zona Re­pub­lic, and The Wash­ing­ton Post, an ed­it­or­i­al on Jan. 10 stated, “It’s huge: Since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Ele­ment­ary School, at­ten­tion to the is­sue has not waned and pres­sure for ac­tion has not di­min­ished. Please don’t dis­miss this achieve­ment.”

The shoot­ing promp­ted Pres­id­ent Obama to wake a wan­ing lib­er­al day­dream — com­pre­hens­ive gun re­form — and make it his ad­min­is­tra­tion’s top do­mest­ic pri­or­ity. And then not much happened.

Ex­cept, something did. As gun con­trol be­came a real le­gis­lat­ive is­sue, Wash­ing­ton’s gun rights/re­form lob­by­ing ma­chines kicked in­to high gear, as the Sun­light Found­a­tion re­ports. 

(Sun­light Found­a­tion)

“Over the past year, gun-con­trol groups re­por­ted spend­ing five times as much on fed­er­al lob­by­ing as they had the pre­vi­ous year: $1.6 mil­lion versus $240,000,” the or­gan­iz­a­tion re­ports. Which sounds like a lot, un­til you con­sider the gun-rights fig­ure. “Or­gan­iz­a­tions back­ing gun rights, such as the Na­tion­al Rifle As­so­ci­ation, re­por­ted lob­by­ing spend­ing of $12.2 mil­lion, more than sev­en times as much as gun-con­trol groups.”

(Sun­light Found­a­tion)Where­as gun-rights or­gan­iz­a­tions went big on lob­by­ing, gun-con­trol groups went big on dir­ectly ap­peal­ing to people through ads.

Taken to­geth­er, these graphs show the enorm­ous amounts of money spent on what ef­fect­ively main­tains the status quo.

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