Gun Rights Groups Out-Donate Gun Control Groups

The NRA leads the pack in terms of political contributions to members of Congress.

By + More

Some say the right to bear arms is an antiquated notion, but the topic seems to be of perennial interest in Washington. The issue got national attention last month, when the Supreme Court reaffirmed gun ownership as a fundamental Constitutional right that can trump more restrictive local laws. But gun ownership is also a constant presence in the world of campaign finance, with groups that advocate for gun control and gun rights both contributing to Congressional campaigns. [See who in Congress gets the most from gun control groups.]

Political action committees and individuals associated with gun rights groups have contributed over 116 times as much to 2010 candidates as gun control groups have contributed. A vast majority of this money comes from the National Rifle Association. Among the other gun rights groups that have donated money to federal candidates this election cycle are the Gun Owners of America and the Ohio Gun Collectors' Association. [See who in Congress gets the most from gun rights groups.]

Data from the Center for Responsive Politics show that, of the $586,371 that gun rights organizations have contributed to candidates this election cycle, 74 percent of it ($436,821) has gone to Republicans. Topping the list of candidates is Republican Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, with $14,100 from gun rights groups, followed by Massachusetts Republican Sen. Scott Brown, who received $13,970 in gun rights money in his successful January run for the seat vacated by Ted Kennedy. Rep. John Boehner of Ohio is third, with $12,650 from individuals and PACs associated with gun rights organizations. Democrats do not appear until much further down the list: the top Democratic recipient, Alabama Rep. Bobby Bright, is at number 15, with $6,100. Altogether, 210 current members of Congress have received money from gun rights groups during the 2010 election cycle. [See which industries contribute the most to Boehner's campaign.]

Individuals and PACs associated with gun control groups have given far less money this election, with $5,050 total. Over half of this money has come from one PAC--the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence Voter Education Fund. All of the money contributed by gun rights organizations has gone to seven candidates, all of them Democratic incumbents. New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has received the most gun control money, $3,300, followed by Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley, with $500, and five representatives (Phil Hare of Illinois, Michael McMahon and Daniel Maffei of New York, Gerry Connolly of Virginia, and Mary Jo Kilroy of Ohio) with $250 each.