Society

Most Senators Who Voted Against Machin-Toomey Received Cash from Gun Lobby

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht
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All but three of the U.S. senators who voted against background checks this week received money from the gun lobby.

Of the 45 senators who voted No on gun law reform that would expand background checks for gun purchases, 42 took money from pro-gun groups, according to analysis by The Guardian and the Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit that utilizes the internet to promote government transparency.

Sen. Dan Coats registered donations from pro-gun groups within the last three weeks, while gun control legislation was still believed to be likely to pass in the Senate.

Federal Election Commission campaign disclosures show the National Rifle Association gave $800,000 to 40 of the senators who voted against gun reform since 1990. 47 percent of the House of Representatives received donations from the NRA during the last campaign.

Disclosures from the FEC showed gun lobbyists raised record funding in the months following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December. The NRA alone collected $2.7 million in January and February.

President Obama and former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords blame the gun lobby for dissuading senators from voting in favor of a bill Obama said "represented moderation and common sense."

The Sunlight Foundation’s analysts also noted that in close races the NRA spent vast sums of money opposing Democrat nominees. The NRA spent $880,859 opposing Sherrod Brown, $626,128 opposing Bill Nelson, and $612,449 opposing Tim Kaine.

The Sunlight Foundation posted a full list of the NRA’s independent expenditures during the 2012 cycle.

In an opinion piece in the New York Times on Wednesday, Giffords wrote “Our democracy’s history is littered with names we neither remember nor celebrate — people who stood in the way of progress while protecting the powerful.”

She reiterated that if Congress did not represent the interests of those who put them in office, they could be replaced. “Mark my words: if we cannot make our communities safer with the Congress we have now, we will use every means available to make sure we have a different Congress, one that puts communities’ interests ahead of the gun lobby’s. To do nothing while others are in danger is not the American way."

Sources: The Guardian, The Sunlight Foundation