Lobbyists Profited Big Time From Sandy Hook Shooting

Almost a year after the Newtown tragedy, something has changed. But it's not what many expected.

US President Barack Obama hugs Newtown shooting victim relative Natalie Barden as James Barden (R) looks on after speaking on gun control on April 17, 2013 in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC.   (National Journal)

After the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School last year, something was supposed to change. The murder of 20 children, a nation expected, would give rise to a different kind of political climate.

Before Newtown, gun control was always seen as a nonstarter. Even after the shooting rampage in Aurora, Colo., in July 2012, or after former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in broad daylight in 2011, nothing really moved.

But after Sandy Hook, headlines read, "Conn. tragedy seems to stand out," in the Arizona Republic, and The Washington Post, an editorial on Jan. 10 stated, "It's huge: Since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, attention to the issue has not waned and pressure for action has not diminished. Please don't dismiss this achievement."

The shooting prompted President Obama to wake a waning liberal daydream — comprehensive gun reform — and make it his administration's top domestic priority. And then not much happened.

Except, something did. As gun control became a real legislative issue, Washington's gun rights/reform lobbying machines kicked into high gear, as the Sunlight Foundation reports. 

(Sunlight Foundation)

"Over the past year, gun-control groups reported spending five times as much on federal lobbying as they had the previous year: $1.6 million versus $240,000," the organization reports. Which sounds like a lot, until you consider the gun-rights figure. "Organizations backing gun rights, such as the National Rifle Association, reported lobbying spending of $12.2 million, more than seven times as much as gun-control groups."

(Sunlight Foundation)Whereas gun-rights organizations went big on lobbying, gun-control groups went big on directly appealing to people through ads.

Taken together, these graphs show the enormous amounts of money spent on what effectively maintains the status quo.