Gun Violence and the Power of Big Money

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  • Scott Swenson, Dale Eisman
Statement by Common Cause President Miles Rapoport

“Once again, the nation is shocked and grieving those lost in a senseless mass murder.

“We have been here too many times already, with Virginia Tech and Newtown, Fort Hood, Charleston, and the Washington Navy Yard. By one count there have been 355 mass shootings (4 or more dead) in the U.S. this year; that’s more than one every day. The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence estimates that more than 100,000 Americans are victims of gun violence each year.

“The polls tell us that most Americans agree that guns, particularly assault weapons like those used in San Bernadino on Wednesday, are too easily accessible. We understand that no gun control could completely prevent mass shootings but that today’s gun laws ease the path to such tragedies.

“We also know that too many of our senators and representatives have paid more attention to the financial muscle of the gun lobby than to the daily slaughter of innocent fellow citizens and the clear wishes of their constituents.

“Since 1990, gun rights groups and their supporters have pumped more than $36 million into the campaigns of members of Congress; in 2014 alone, the National Rifle Association, the most prominent pro-gun organization, put $28 million into ‘independent expenditures’ aimed at supporting some candidates and defeating others.

“The gun lobby backs its investments in electing friendly lawmakers with major outlays to influence those in office. Since 2000, pro-gun groups have spent more than $101 million in lobbying on Capitol Hill.

“The pro-gun forces are so strong that in 1996 they persuaded Congress to institute a ban on federal funding of research into the causes of gun violence.

“That prohibition remains in force. As New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof noted on Wednesday, we fund research aimed at finding ways to limit the damage done by all sorts of other dangerous products, from automobiles to swimming pools to toys. But not a penny goes to study the public health dangers posed by the 300 million-plus firearms in circulation.

“How much more must the nation endure before Congress rouses itself?”

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