When it comes to protecting constituents over protecting the NRA and the gun industry, at least 14 senators – all Republicans — have lined up with the gun lobby to block any legislation that might make it tougher for the wrong people to stock up on AK-47s, Bushmasters and megaclips of ammo. Despite polls consistently showing overwhelming majorities of Americans – including Republicans and gun owners – want effective background checks and other measures, their loyalty lies elsewhere.
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the GOP’s top gun in the Senate, has announced he and 13 fellow Republicans plan to mount a filibuster to prevent the Senate from voting on any gun safety legislation. Already at least half a dozen of his GOP colleagues have said they will vote to end any filibuster, but even if the McConnell filibuster is broken, as seems likely now, anything passed by the Senate is expected to get watered down in an effort to win votes from Red State senators who fear attacks from gun enthusiasts.
One of the NRA’s top targets is New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who is funding a $12 million campaign to pass gun safety legislation. We’re already hearing attacks on East Coast liberals who want to confiscate our guns and NRA is attacking the mayor as the “New York City Nanny.”
NRA’s Wayne LaPierre has called him “insane” and “reckless” and accused him of trying to “buy America” with a $12 million donation to Mayors Against Illegal Guns. That’s only about 5 percent of NRA’s annual budget, which is reported to be in the neighborhood of a quarter-billion dollars. The group spends magnitudes more than its opponents on campaign contributions and lobbying against gun control, and it receives considerable funding from the U.S. and foreign gun industry.
A bipartisan pair of pro-gun conservative senators, Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) and Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.), say they’ve struck a deal on background checks, but it is not clear how many loopholes have really been closed and whether they can get the votes for final passage on something meaningful to deal with the problem.
And whatever passes the Senate is likely to die in the House where the Republican leadership, marching in lockstep with the NRA to prevent any changes, may not even let it come up for a vote. And if it does, the product is likely to be more symbolic than substantive.