U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said Tuesday in a conference call with news reporters that the National Rifle Association’s reputation for political muscle in election campaigns is overrated. His office released a report that Murphy said he hopes will make members of Congress not be afraid to support gun-control bills in response to the Dec. 14 Newtown school massacre.
“The NRA’s response to the tragic Sandy Hook shooting last month has been absolutely revolting and tone-deaf. It’s also been out of step with its own members, many of whom support common-sense anti-gun violence measures like universal background checks,” said Murphy. “This report starts to debunk the myth that if you cross the NRA, you have a political price to pay. We have to help Members of Congress understand that the NRA just isn’t what it used to be.”
The report, entitled “Washington’s Paper Tiger: A Look at the NRA’s Ineffective Political Spending,” used fundraising information from 16 contested U.S. Senate campaigns last year, as well as the national campaign for president. Murphy said in an emailed statement that it found that “the NRA actually loses more races than it wins, and disproportionately spends money against Democrats.”
He added that last year “the vast majority of U.S. Senate candidates who were backed by the NRA lost their elections, as did Mitt Romney, the NRA-backed nominee for president. Additionally, candidates who were directly opposed by the NRA actually won more often than not. The report also reveals that nearly 75 percent of the total funds the NRA spent in the 2012 election cycle were spent against Democrats who support anti-gun violence measures such as background checks – a measure also supported by the majority of NRA members.”
Congress is considering a comprehensive package of post-Newtown proposals by President Barack Obama, including reinstatement of a national ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines — and as the process moves forward, Murphy said he plans to release more research that he said will show “the ineffectiveness of the national gun lobby.”
The newly elected Murphy has been vocal on initiatives aimed at reducing gun violence since he took office early this month. He’s joined six others in introducing a bill to restore the now-defunct ban on assault weapons and ammunition magazines containing more than 10 bullets. Also, he is a co-sponsor with U.S. Rep. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., of the Ammunition Background Check Act of 2013, which would require the same kind of instant background checks for the sale of ammunition that now are used for sales of guns.
The report says that the NRA’s leaders have “fostered an aura of political invincibility despite their mixed track record. In many ways, the NRA is a paper tiger when it comes to elections.” For example, the report said, the NRA spent more than $10.3 million against Obama in last year’s campaign, and $2.7 million in support of Romney, “but this spending did not affect the outcome of the race.”