Of the many dangers that the National Rifle Association says gun owners must fortify themselves against, none pose a more imminent threat than Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party.
“The Second Amendment is on the ballot this November,” Chris Cox, the NRA’s chief lobbyist, reminded members at the organization’s annual meeting last week in Louisville, Kentucky. Wayne Lapierre, the group’s top executive, told attendees that this was the election of a lifetime. Should Democrats gain control of the government, he declared, “You can kiss your guns goodbye.” The message was clear: The NRA plans to do everything within its vast means to sway the outcome of races in the fall.
To get the candidates it wants elected, the NRA will seek to mobilize its members, a voting block it claims is five million strong. It will use the pulpit it commands as one of the most influential lobbying groups in the nation to trumpet its message. Also, it will spend lots and lots of money.
Last week, The Trace and the New York Daily News analyzed the NRA’s spending on leaflets, postcards, and ads meant to influence the outcome of an election — known as independent expenditures, the money is separate from the smaller sum given directly to candidates — over the last three election cycles. We found that the gun group’s independent expenditures soared 373 percent from 2010 to 2014. All told, the NRA shelled out $56 million across three cycles.
We wanted to know to where the money was directed, what it was spent on, and whether it achieved the group’s desired outcome.
Here is what we learned.