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Marco Rubio and the NRA – What Cameron Kasky Was Talking About

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creativecommons.org

Matt Dattolo, Staff Writer

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On Wednesday, February 21, at a town hall meeting hosted by CNN in Sunrise, Florida, junior Cameron Kasky, a survivor of the mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School, asked Senator Marco Rubio if he would “Not accept a single donation from the NRA in the future.” Rubio explained himself to Kasky, saying that “The influence of these groups comes not from money. The influence comes from the millions of people who agree with the agenda.” “In the name of 17 people, you cannot ask the NRA to keep money out of your campaign?” responded Kasky. “As a matter of fact, I bet we can get people in here to give you exactly as much money as the NRA would have.” Rubio acknowledged that this was true, but in the end claimed that the money he received from the National Rifle Association has no bearing on his opinions on laws concerning gun control.

Marco Rubio is certainly not the first member of Congress to have perhaps been influenced by the NRA. In fact, the practice in which corporations and large organizations donate money to politicians and political parties is quite common. Known as lobbying, groups such as the NRA seek to gain political influence from politicians through funding their political campaigns and platforms, as well as by paying politicians directly. And with the current political unrest from the shooting that occured at Stoneman Douglas High, the NRA is wary to reinforce their pro-gun agenda and fight against restrictive gun control laws. There is no doubt that the NRA will bolster their tactic of lobbying in the near future based on trends from the past.

According to opensecrets.org, a website ran by The Center of Responsive Politics (a nonpartisan, independent and nonprofit organization that is the nation’s best research group in tracking money in politics) NRA lobbying on bills proposed in Congress since 2010 has drastically increased.  Almost all of these bills focus on the subject of gun control laws. The NRA lobbied $2.65 million in 2010 on bills, but in 2017 that figure nearly doubled to $5.12 million. Subsequently, the number of mass shootings in the United States in the last decade has rapidly increased compared to the years prior. In other words, the amount of money the NRA lobbied to bills increased in the years when more mass shootings occured. As a result, it is becoming very challenging for a member of Congress to pass any legislation that is not aligned with the ideals of the NRA. Those who do receive campaign and/or personal donations from the NRA (most of whom are predominantly Republican) are pressured into rejecting said bills at the risk of losing their campaign support, making it harder for them to win re-election. And this money does not even include donations to individual political platforms or congressmen themselves.

Opensecrets.org also stated that in the 2016 election cycle, the NRA spent over $50.3 million between the presidential election and six congressional senate elections. Almost $20 million was used towards opposing the Clinton campaign, which was prominently in support of gun control laws. $10.6 million was used in support of Donald Trump, totaling to an amount of around $30.3 million spent on the presidential election. Another $20 million went towards funding the political platforms of Richard Burr ($6.3 million), Roy Blunt ($3.0 million), Todd Young ($2.8 million), Joe Heck ($2.5 million), Rob Portman ($2.2 million), and, unsurprisingly, Marco Rubio ($3.2 million). Five of six of these senators won their state elections, revealing the profound influence the NRA has on not just gun control bills in Congress, but elections themselves. It is clear to see why Rubio is so reluctant to cut off his support from the NRA; however, we must remember that he is merely one of many who have received a substantial amount of money on their behalf or directly to themselves from the NRA. As of October 4, 2017, Senator John McCain was the top receiver in NRA funds, at $7.7 million dollars. The NRA indeed has their hands deep in American policy making.

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Marco Rubio and the NRA – What Cameron Kasky Was Talking About