Wednesday 16 January 2019

Roll out the big guns: Billionaire Bloomberg is helping anti-firearms groups outspend the NRA

 

Daniel Trotta and Grant Smith Reuters

US gun-control advocates have outspent gun-rights groups by more than 40pc ahead of next week's congressional elections, the first time they have done so in two decades in a bid to break the National Rifle Association's long-standing dominance in spending on gun politics.

Boosted largely by the personal fortune of billionaire Michael Bloomberg, who is considering a 2020 presidential run, the gun-control war chest almost entirely benefits Democrats who are seeking to wrest majorities from the Republicans in the House of Representatives and Senate in the November 6 elections.

Gun-control groups, including one founded by former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords who survived an assassination attempt, have spent $20.2m (€17.6m) on the elections, well over the $14.1m spent by pro-gun groups led by the NRA, according to data released by the US Federal Election Commission.

It is the first time in at least two decades that gun-control groups have outspent gun-rights groups on federal races, though they have outspent gun-rights advocates in state elections in recent years, according to data compiled by the National Institute on Money in Politics.

"There is definitely a shift," said Peter Ambler, the executive director of Giffords which was formed by Ms Giffords after the mass shooting in December 2012 that killed 20 school children in Connecticut. "It was just a few years ago when people considered gun safety to be one of politics' third rails. Now the opposite is true."

The FEC report covers federal campaign spending through October 17 and will be the last public report before the November 6 vote. An NRA spokeswoman said Mr Bloomberg's money would not overturn public support for the Second Amendment of the US Constitution, which protects the right to keep and bear arms.

"His money is no match for our grassroots organisation," she said.

Mr Bloomberg formed Everytown in 2014 when he pledged $50m to the cause and combined forces with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. He has pledged another $100m for this year's campaigns.

Everytown has spent $3.6m, according to the FEC data. Most of its $20m budget this year has been devoted to state races.

Giffords has spent $16.3m, the FEC data show, and has set aside at least $1m for each of four competitive House races to defeat incumbent Republicans in Virginia, Minnesota, Texas and Colorado.

Gun control groups have outspent their opponents in states before, notably in 2016, by a margin of $26m to $11m, according to National Institute on Money in Politics. The NRA and its allies more than made up for that with $70m in spending on the federal level.

At the weekend, 11 worshippers were shot dead at a synagogue.

Irish Independent

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