The National Rifle Association may be the best-known opponent of gun control, but a Connecticut group that represents the gun industry has quietly outdone the NRA in lobbying US lawmakers.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, based in Newtown, Conn., has spent $15.5 million lobbying Congress since 2019, 40% more than the NRA, according to records tracked by the nonprofit. nonprofit Open Secrets.
That makes the foundation a force on Capitol Hill as Democratic lawmakers scramble to craft compromise gun bills that Republicans could accept, in the wake of the mass school shooting in Uvalde.
“For years, Republicans have protected their campaign coffers at the expense of the safety of our schools,” U.S. Senator Edward Markey said in a statement when asked about the group’s lobbying. “They are beholden to pro-gun lobbyists who prop up industry profits by peddling dangerous lies about common-sense gun reform efforts that the American people largely support.”
National Shooting Sports represents the firearms industry, including more than 9,500 gun manufacturers, retailers and shooting ranges. And the group has remained a strong supporter of access to semi-automatic weapons, including the type used in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, a few miles from its headquarters, a decade ago. as well as that of Uvalde, Texas, last week.
“We are talking about legal and constitutionally protected equipment,” said Mark Oliva, spokesman for the group. “It’s constitutionally protected. You have the right to own these weapons.
Instead of banning AR-15 type weapons, National Shooting Sports says it supports making guns safe. The group handed out free gun locks – to keep guns away from children – and pushed for states to turn over the records of people with mental illness to the FBI, so they couldn’t buy guns .
The U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee is due to meet on Thursday on a package of gun bills dubbed the “Protecting Our Children Act.” While the Democratic-controlled House is expected to pass the measures, their chances of making it through the Senate are seen as slim.
National Shooting Sports is preparing to respond to the new measures. “We are in touch with Capitol Hill lawmakers,” Oliva said.