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“Why did this happen and what can we do?” ask my fellow parents of young children this week. At school drop-off, in the kitchen, on social media. Anyplace slightly out of hearing of the kids.I have a one-track mind when it comes to an issue like gun control. My singularly tracked mind says “follow the money.”
What kind of money comes to play on the issue of gun control?
The National Rifle Association ranks 50th on the list of ‘Heavy Hitter’ lobbyists, and in the top 1.5% of all organisations tracked by The centre for Responsive Politics’ OpenSecrets.org website, which tracks the biggest contributors to political campaigns since 1989 through 2012.
Tens of millions of dollars contributed to campaigns from the NRA since 1989 tend to have a focusing effect on our nation’s elected officials, as well as on media outlets which carry targeted pro-gun advertisements.
How much money is spent, in contrast, on gun control? Well, for starters, there’s no brand-name organizational leader in gun control with the stature to counter-balance the NRA. I suppose the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence comes as close to any group to carrying the flag for gun control. The Brady Campaign spent a reported $20,000 on lobbying in 2012, compared to the NRA’s $2.2 million in 2012.
So…when you raise and spend 1% of the money your opponent spends, you can be reasonably certain to get squashed like a bug on your legislative issue. How did this happen? Follow the money.
For me the absolute nadir of the last electoral cycle was the Obama and Romney mutually-agreed-upon dodge of the gun control issue. When asked during the town hall debate his view of an assault weapons ban, Obama spent 75% of his time pledging allegiance to the 2nd Amendment. Romney, for his part, mostly spoke about the ‘Fast and Furious’ debacle from the Justice Department, and oddly enough, the importance of two-parent homes. You could see the moderator squirming in her frustration with their dodges, just as I did in my living room.
Obama and Romney are not bad guys, and they’re certainly not insensitive or stupid. They see the same horrific, repeated tragedies we do, and I believe they grieve just like us. But too much money weighs in on the pro-gun side without a countervailing gun control side for an ambitious politician to do the right thing.
What can we do? Send money to the anti-gun lobby. Our elected leaders just can’t focus otherwise.
 That one was a real head-scratcher.