NRA Funding & Gun Control: the Perpetual Cycle of Inaction


In the United States, hearing about the most recent deadly mass shooting has become a horrid norm. We’ve seen Columbine, Sandy Hook, Parkland, and the most recent mass school shooting in Uvalde, leaving 21 dead. As we tearfully watch these scenes unfold, as parents mourn their lost children, and as students wonder if they will be next, many question how this keeps happening. How has Congress not passed legislation to stop this, or even attempt to stop this? The dark answer lies with the National Rifle Association (NRA) and its continued funding of Congressmen.

The NRA is an American organization that protects the interests of gun owners and works to uphold the Second Amendment right to bear arms. In the United States, it is a common practice for organizations, companies, and other groups to fund political candidates that will support the interests of the group at hand. With campaign funding being so closely tied to political success, an endless loop is created in which Congressmen will vote for legislation that protects the interests of their funders, in hopes of continuing to receive funding from these groups for the next election. This system has allowed for the rise in funding from groups such as the NRA, which has an immense influence on halting the progress of significant gun control legislation. During the 2020 election cycle, the NRA funded over $650,000 to Congressional candidates, with roughly 98% of these funds going to Republicans, and over $18 million to Republican election groups. Republican Utah Senator Mitt Romney has been the largest recipient of NRA funding over his career, having accepted over $13.5 million. Republican North Carolina Senator Richard Burr follows, having accepted nearly $7 million in NRA funding over his career.

Source: Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence

In the wake of the Uvalde school shooting, former President Obama commented on this relationship with NRA funding, saying, “Our country is paralyzed, not by fear, but by a gun lobby and a political party.” However, this is not the first time NRA funding has come up in the aftermath of a mass shooting, and it certainly will not be the last. High school student survivors of the 2018 Parkland mass shooting put heavy emphasis in their activism efforts on calling out senators for accepting these funds. One student even directly questioned Republican Florida Senator Marco Rubio, asking, “Can you tell me right now that you will not accept a single donation from the NRA?” Rubio avoided the question, having accepted over $3.3 million in NRA funding throughout his career.  

Our country is paralyzed, not by fear, but by a gun lobby and a political party.

— Former President Barack Obama

After each mass shooting, political officials turn to thoughts and prayers for the victims and their families. But in truth, thoughts and prayers are simply not enough. Not when so many of our elected Senators, people who have a duty to protect us and our interests, consistently receive money from the NRA. Not when each significant gun control legislative attempt is halted by Republicans. And certainly not when the school shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas was not merely an unforeseeable tragedy, but a direct result of Congress’ refusal to act.

For those of you wanting gun control, I urge you to vote if you are eligible during this year’s midterms and all future elections, and to stay involved in any activism movements available to you. North Carolina Senator Richard Burr, the second-largest recipient of NRA funding, is retiring from Congress and his seat is open for the upcoming midterms. It is ultimately up to North Carolinians to decide who takes his place. Remember all of the gun violence victims and remember your vote is your voice. To those of you still not in support of gun control, despite the gun violence horrors before us, in the words of Senator Murphy: What are you doing?