This past Monday, one week after the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history, the Senate rejected four gun-related measures. One proposal would have made it harder for suspected terrorists to purchase firearms and another would have expanded background checks to all gun sales. Similar measures also failed after 26 people were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School and 14 people were killed at a San Bernardino office party.
The votes are not surprising given that the 56 senators who voted against expanding background checks (and 53 who voted against allowing the attorney general to stop the sale of a firearm to a suspected terrorist) have received a combined total of roughly $36 million from the National Rifle Association.
“What am I going to tell 49 grieving families?” Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) said after the votes. “I am going to tell them the NRA won again.”
But roughly 90 percent of Americans — including 80 percent of gun owners — support these measures. Immediately after the vote, voters and gun control advocates vowed to make the upcoming election a referendum on Republican politicians who are beholden to the NRA. On Twitter, people expressed their disapproval at Congress with the hashtag #RememberinNovember.
A total of 24 Republican Senate seats are up for election in November — 22 face reelection and two are retiring. Illinois Republican Sen. Mark Kirk, the most vulnerable Republican senator running for reelection, bucked his party and voted in favor of closing the current loophole that allows people to purchase firearms online and at gun shows without a background check. The other 23, meanwhile, voted against that measure.
The Republican senators who both voted against background checks and who could leave office in January have received a net total of $16,258,008 over their careers from the NRA. That number accounts for all of the money they’ve received from the NRA, both directly and indirectly. It also includes all of the money the NRA has spent against their opponents (payments the NRA has made in favor of their opponents are subtracted). The retiring Sen. Dan Coates (R-IN) also voted against background checks, but the NRA has actually spent more money opposing Coates over the years than they have on his behalf.
CREDIT: DYLAN PETROHILOS
“A lot of these people are up for reelection this year and I will dedicate the next several months of my life to making sure we remember that,” Everytown for Gun Safety survivor engagement manager Erica Lafferty Smegielski told ThinkProgress Monday. Smegielski’s mother, Dawn Hochsprung, was the principal of Sandy Hook Elementary School and was killed in the shooting there in 2012.
“We’re going to take it to the polls,” she continued. “And if Congress again, now after the worst mass shooting on U.S. soil in modern history, if they’re not going to act now then when? Clearly it’s not going to happen with the people who are holding office and we’re going to hold them accountable for that and vote them out in November.”