Less Lawyers and Guns, But More Money, Please.

guns and money“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 organizations tracked by The Center 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.[1]  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.

[1] That one was a real head-scratcher.

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10 Replies to “Less Lawyers and Guns, But More Money, Please.”

  1. Thank you for clarifying the issue of whose views prevail in state and national policy. Even last night, when Obama spoke in Newtown, I waited to hear the words “gun control” actually spoken – waited in vain.

    1. Yup, Obama has not exactly been a leader on this issue. He totally ducked it during the last Presidential campaign. The list of courageous politicians willing to speak openly against the gun lobby is as follows: Michael Bloomberg. That’s about it. In related news, Michael Bloomberg doesn’t depend on any campaign money.

  2. Wonder how much money the marketers of violence and their protectors in the media related industries contribute under the radar? Wonder how many of us believe the tripe they sell about how there is no relationship between the consumption of their products and the influence it has? Wonder how many of us parents can connect those dots? Wonder how many of us can realize we are in the matrix and get out? My wife and I raised eight children, 32 to 21 currently and we reflect on our lives when our children were young very often. We had a day care in our home for 16 years and I taught at the high school level for 20+ years and worked in a drug rehab for 5 years. We as parents had better keep our side of the street clean while we try to clean house as a nation.

  3. Follow the money . . . make gun owners purchase liability insurance for their weapons. The insurance companies will have the economic incentive to make sure that conditions such as those that existed in the Lanza home (apparently insufficiently guarded weapons and an unstable adult on the edge of commitment proceedings) don’t exist.

    1. Tom – That is one of the more brilliant ideas I’ve seen. Is anyone working on this idea? thanks for your comment!

  4. It’s not just about money though. Take tobacco control – while the industry spends billions to market and advertise their products, vs. the pittance spent in tobacco control efforts, smoking rates have steadily decreased since the first Surgeon General’s report was released in the ’60s.

    1. Stephanie,

      Thanks for your comment. My impression is that when I was a kid (’70s) the tobacco industry’s capture (through money) of the regulatory process and legislative leadership was quite strong. But that’s weakened over time.
      I’m not an expert on Tobacco by any means, but I think in fact the major States lawsuits settlement done a few years ago raised significant money for tobacco control. I’m sure its not the only factor leading to decreased smoking rates, but it likely had some effect, no?

  5. I found your site tonight from Marketshadows.com and have been going through your articles reading them. I enjoy your insight in to the financial markets and look forward to reading more. Being a responsible gun owner, fan of the Constitution, and a fan of personal responsibility I have to disagree on the government creating new laws around guns.

    I find it strange to call for gun control when these tragedies happen. The people doing this are obviously not healthy minded law abiding citizens. There is almost always a psychotropic drug involved and I feel that way before any gun control laws should be passed there should be new controls in how these drugs are brought to market and how people are treated for mental “disorders.”

    The drugs these shooters are on are hardly tested at all and have caused perfectly normal people to do things they wouldn’t do without the drug. This needs to be looked at just as much, if not more, than laws to restrict gun ownership.

    I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on two videos regarding Psychotropic drugs. The first a short one specifically on violent tragedies in relation to the drugs and the second a longer documentary on the bigger picture of psychotropic drugs.

    Don’t get me wrong, having a 2 year old daughter and a 4 year old son (about to start kindergarten), the last thing I want is the wrong type of person to have access to weapons of any kind. The shooting brought tears to my eyes imagining those innocent kids dying and what their families are going through. However I do not feel guns are the problem and believe wholeheartedly our founders were brilliant in their compiling of the constitution.

    If you haven’t wrote me off as a fruitcake already and don’t mind checking out another video this one is centered around consequences of governments throughout history disarming their citizens; typically starting with a simple gun registration.

    Homicides are not on the leading causes of death below but homicide was 15,953 and of those 11,101 were gun related homicides.

    Number of deaths for leading causes of death:
    Heart disease: 599,413
    Cancer: 567,628
    Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 137,353
    Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 128,842
    Accidents (unintentional injuries): 118,021
    Alzheimer’s disease: 79,003
    Diabetes: 68,705
    Influenza and Pneumonia: 53,692
    Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 48,935
    Intentional self-harm (suicide): 36,909

    – Source: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/deaths.htm

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I founded Bankers Anonymous because, as a recovering banker, I believe that the gap between the financial world as I know it and the public discourse about finance is more than just a problem for a family trying to balance their checkbook, or politicians trying to score points over next year’s budget – it is a weakness of our civil society. For reals. It’s also really fun for me.

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