The National Rifle Association’s NRA Political Victory Fund PAC has distributed more than $1 million in career donations to current members of the United States Senate. And, like their House counterparts, the Senators who have received the most are also among the most vocal opponents of any new gun violence prevention legislation advanced in the aftermath of the school shooting at Newton, Connecticut.
A ThinkProgress analysis of data from Political MoneyLine reveals that the top 10 Senate beneficiaries of NRA money are all Republicans. Each has already indicated his opposition to President Obama’s gun violence proposals and each has received an “A” or “A+” rating from the NRA. They are:
SEN. JIM INHOFE (R-OK) — AT LEAST $64,900
Inhofe said last month, “I will continue to strongly oppose any effort to undermine the Second Amendment and an individual citizen’s right to keep and bear arms. … The text of the Constitution clearly confers upon an individual the right to bear arms — and not just for the purposes of hunting as many liberals will claim. Our Founders believed that the people’s right to own guns was an important check on the powers of the government and ‘necessary to the security of a free State.’ I couldn’t agree more and I stand firm in my support of this right.”
SEN. ROY BLUNT (R-MO) — AT LEAST $60,550
Blunt said last month, “Unfortunately, the president’s proposals today fundamentally fail to address ways that we can prevent tragic events like Sandy Hook, and instead, he’s attempting to restrict the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans.” Last week, he expressed doubt that the Senate would even expand background checks.
SEN. SAXBY CHAMBLISS (R-GA) — AT LEAST $56,950
Chambliss said last month, “While I am certain that the president’s proposal is well-intentioned, it is Congress’ responsibility to make sure that Americans’ constitutional rights are protected.”
SEN. JOHN THUNE (R-SD) — AT LEAST $48,605
Thune said last month, “There is a lot of emotion driving this debate. We need to prevent this in the future, and make the schools and our kids safer. And frankly, I don’t think it has to do with restrictions on the Second Amendment.”
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC) — AT LEAST $46,600
Graham said last month, “One bullet in the hands of a homicidal maniac is one too many. But in the case of a young mother defending her children against a home invader — a real-life event which recently occurred near Atlanta — six bullets may not be enough. Criminals aren’t going to follow legislation limiting magazine capacity. However, a limit could put law-abiding citizens at a distinct disadvantage when confronting a criminal. As for reinstating the assault weapons ban, it has already been tried and failed.”
SEN. RICHARD SHELBY (R-AL) — AT LEAST $43,755
Shelby said on his Congressional website, “We all mourn the victims of shocking tragedies that have resulted from senseless acts of violence perpetrated by seriously disturbed individuals. However, such tragedies should not be viewed as an indictment of America’s precious Second Amendment rights. Thus, we should not react in a manner that would unnecessarily and improperly infringe upon the rights of tens of millions of law-abiding American gun owners. Unfortunately, it seems that some zealous gun rights opponents are seeking to leverage tragedies to further their long-held agenda of unduly restricting Americans’ Second Amendment rights.”
SEN. MIKE CRAPO (R-ID) — AT LEAST $43,700
Crapo said last month, “The President’s proposal on gun control is very disappointing. Any discussion about restricting the Constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans deserves, at minimum, a full and public debate in Congress. Burdening law-abiding citizens of this country with additional gun restrictions is not the answer to safeguarding the public from further attacks.”
SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R-UT) — AT LEAST $41,750
Hatch said last month that even passage of universal background checks would be “the way reductions in liberty occur.” He added, “When you start saying people all have to sign up for something, and they have a database where they know exactly who’s who, and where government can persecute people because of the database, that alarms a lot of people in our country, and it flies in the face of liberty,” noting that gun rights are “an express provision in the Constitution, unlike the penumbras and other conjured-up provisions that aren’t there that the court has come up with over the years. This is express, and many people are very, very concerned about any infringement on it, and I’m one of them.”
SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA) — AT LEAST $41,200
Grassley said last month, “The Second Amendment is more than just words on paper. It’s a fundamental right that ensures citizens the ability to protect themselves against the government. Unfortunately, the President seems to think that the Second Amendment can be tossed aside. Using executive action to attempt to poke holes in the Second Amendment is a power grab along the same pattern we’ve seen of contempt for the elected representatives of the American people. Some of these directives clearly run afoul of limitations Congress has placed on federal spending bringing the President’s actions in direct conflict with federal law. More importantly, it’s hard to see how any of these executive actions would have prevented the tragedies that precipitated this effort.”
SEN. ROGER WICKER (R-MS) — AT LEAST $36,750
Wicker said last month, “The President’s proposals would violate the Constitution and have been proven not to be effective in preventing gun violence, I will be part of a bipartisan coalition opposing this legislation and looking for real solutions such as school safety guards, mental health care, and addressing the culture of violence in the media. The Second Amendment rights of Americans must be preserved.”
The 10 have received more than $480,000 combined in career NRA PAC money.
The Senate Judiciary Committee’s Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights subcommittee will hold a hearing Tuesday to examine proposals to reduce gun violence. The four Republicans on the nine-person panel are Graham, Hatch, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX). Cruz (at least $9900) has blasted the President for “trying to exploit the tragic murder of children as an excuse to push his own extreme anti-gun agenda,” and Cornyn ($17,850) has said we must enforce existing gun laws before we consider any new ones.