How much are anti-gun control groups spending on state politics?

Using data made available by the National Institute on Money in State Politics, I downloaded and compiled a history of political spending in state politics by anti-gun control interests like the NRA. I did this for all 50 states and for the years 2006-2012. My goal was to be able to answer a simple question: how much have anti-gun control groups been spending in each state? It is my hope that groups who are working to reduce gun violence find and are able to make use of this data.

AR-15

They have already won

The gun industry and their allies have seen to it that any gun control laws that might be passed in the wake of the shootings in Sandy Hook are severely watered down.

“How?” you may ask. It is not unlike the beginning of the Godfather movie. A funeral director begs Vito Corleone for help in seeking vengeance against the man who assaulted his daughter. Vito answers something to the effect of:

“Someday, and that day may never come, I’ll call upon you to do a service for me. But uh, until that day – accept this (political donation) as a gift.”

The gun industry and its allies have done the same thing. How? By spreading over $3.8 million in 49 states over the course of a few election seasons to ensure they get access, if not services, from state lawmakers when they come calling in the future. While the media typically focuses on gun control issues at the federal level, state capitals and ballot measures play a large part in shaping access to firearms.

“Those Republicans are so evil” you may think. But it’s not just one party. It’s about money. And influence. And anonymity. The Democrats are co-opted as well. Gun interests donate to both parties. They may not be quite in lockstep against any and all gun control, but they are certainly scared. The money donated by groups such as Gun Owners of America can just as easily be donated to a political opponent if they vote the “wrong” way.

What’s the problem?

This is the trouble with money in politics – while some transactions happen in plain sight, the negative impacts associated with such corruption are legion and hard to untangle. Super PACs. Lobbying. Hosting political fundraisers on behalf of a candidate you want to own, er, support. The influence of money in politics is not always so obvious – some of it is not reported on at all. One thing is clear. There will never be meaningful gun control so long as we allow the gun industry to assert so much influence in an area where few of us pay attention – state politics.

The Data

Again, this data is painstakingly gathered and made available by the National Institute on Money in State Politics. I include links when possible so curious users can retrieve more data if they are interested. Please comment below if you have questions or comments about the data. If you are with a group that is trying to reduce gun violence and you have found this helpful – let me know!

Spending by Gun Manufacturers and their Allies in State Politics, 2006-2012
State 2006-2010 2011-12* TOTAL Rank
AL $15,500 $- $15,500 35
AR $11,825 $- $11,825 41
AZ $205,607 $2,798 $208,405 6
CA $31,100 $6,000 $37,100 23
CO $20,575 $11,700 $32,275 26
CT $10,595 $195 $10,790 42
DE $31,635 $100 $31,735 27
FL $85,500 $- $85,500 16
GA $61,100 $6,800 $67,900 18
HI $13,350 $1,900 $15,250 37
IA $208,140 $91,503 $299,643 4
ID $11,500 $475 $11,975 40
IL $71,700 $25,500 $97,200 12
IN $18,450 $2,050 $20,500 29
KS $97,800 $24,000 $121,800 10
KY $3,450 $- $3,450 46
LA $12,655 $2,796 $15,451 36
MA $280 $- $280 49
MD $76,420 $4,315 $80,735 17
ME $31,300 $4,700 $36,000 24
MI $304,900 $800 $305,700 3
MN $950 $- $950 48
MO $66,731 $19,000 $85,731 15
MS $22,678 $13,000 $35,678 25
MT $14,255 $3,194 $17,449 32
NC $19,300 $1,200 $20,500 29
ND $25,300 $- $25,300 28
NE $16,250 $- $16,250 34
NH $13,225 $- $13,225 39
NJ $20,400 $- $20,400 31
NM $33,750 $5,750 $39,500 22
NV $26,250 $14,250 $40,500 21
NY $308,918 $105,133 $414,051 1
OH $158,391 $37,161 $195,552 7
OK $11,850 $1,500 $13,350 38
OR $138,500 $1,500 $140,000 9
PA $142,440 $13,462 $155,902 8
RI $78,800 $12,375 $91,175 13
SC $16,750 $500 $17,250 33
SD $2,645 $- $2,645 47
TN $83,710 $24,346 $108,056 11
TX $229,902 $48,600 $278,502 5
UT $31,600 $12,500 $44,100 20
VA $78,220 $11,500 $89,720 14
VT $3,500 $3,500 $7,000 44
WA $265,250 $142,475 $407,725 2
WI $40,025 $21,465 $61,490 19
WV $5,250 $1,500 $6,750 45
WY $8,750 $1,500 $10,250 43
TOTAL $3,186,972 $681,043 $3,868,015

* Data for 2011 is largely complete, except that Connecticut is considered to be only ~70% accounted for. Data 2012 is very incomplete as of the date this was posted: December 21, 2012.