Is the Gun Lobby Powerful?

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In the aftermath of the gun massacre in Uvalde, Texas, Democrats have increased calls for Congress to act against the gun lobby.

However, the firearms business and groups advocating on its behalf spend comparatively less on lobbying than their peers.


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Blame the Lobbyists

Democrats’ practice of pointing the finger at the gun lobby is not a new one.

Gun control activists have been going after the National Rifle Association for years. This is a strong gun rights group that the left has long seen as the bad guy in their gun plot.

In recent years, however, the NRA lost a lot of its power because of corruption and inefficiency, which caused it to have more and more money problems.

The gun lobby is a group of advocacy organizations and businesses that invest in lobbying politicians against gun regulations.

Open Secrets says the most prominent gun-rights group is the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which calls itself a “trade group for the firearm industry.” In 2021, the NSSF spent $5 million in lobbying.

In 2021, the NRA, the second-largest pro-gun lobbying organization, spent $4.9 million on lobbying. Another gun rights organization, Gun Owners of America, spent $2.8 million on campaigning last year.

Individual firearm makers devote smaller sums to lobbying as well.

Smith & Wesson, for instance, spent $185,000 on lobbying in 2021, while Sig Sauer spent $545,000 on lobbying.

Calls to limit the gun lobby’s power often imply politicians are in debt to the gun industry because of campaign contributions and lobbying.

Other Industries

However, gun rights groups donate to candidates, most of whom are Republicans.


In the 2020 election, the NSSF’s political action committee contributed $512,000 to Republican candidates and only $8,700 to Democratic candidates.

Despite its difficulties, the NRA’s campaign committee gave $606,600 to Republican candidates and $9,900 to Democratic candidates in the 2020 election.

Though the true strength of organizations like the NRA derives from the popularity of its aims and the zeal of gun rights supporters.

With over 4.9 million members, the NRA has the type of grassroots support that compels politicians to listen to its message.

The expenditures of the gun lobby are dwarfed by those of a number of other sectors that invest significantly more to influence Washington to do their bidding.

In 2021, for instance, Facebook spent more than $20 million on lobbying. In 2021, Alphabet Inc., the parent corporation of Google, spent $11.8 million on lobbying.

The National Realtors Association, an organization that speaks for the real estate industry, spent over $44 million on lobbying last year.

In 2021, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a trade association for the pharmaceutical industry, spent $30.4 million on lobbying.

Polls indicate support for more metric measures on gun safety, which could provide Congress with an opening to adopt legislation in the wake of the shooting in Uvalde.

The majority of Americans support stricter background checks for all sorts of gun sales.