New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, co-chair of the non-profit organization Mayors Against Illegal Guns, believes that the NRA has done an excellent job of keeping track of politicians and their views on gun control, handing out good grades or bad grades depending upon where said politicians stand. In fact, it's such a good idea that Bloomberg has said that his organization plans to start doing the very same thing, according to The Washington Post.
Is he giving the National Rifle association a taste of its own medicine? Hopefully so. It couldn't happen to a more appropriate bunch of high-paid corporate gangsters. He plans to unveil this new scoring system next Tuesday, and it will be quite similar to the one employed by the NRA which grades politicians during election time. Strategists for MAIG briefed reporters regarding the plans yesterday.
"For decades, the NRA has done an admirable job of tracking to minute detail how members of Congress stand on gun bills," said Mark Glaze, director of MAIG. "We've simply decided to do the same."
So how does the NRA, which has been sweetening the pot for lawmakers over the past several decades, grade politicians? It's really pretty simple, according to GQ.
Before a bill addressing gun control comes up, the NRA announces that it will be "scoring the vote". This means that the organization will take this vote into account when determining a letter grade to assign to each lawmaker. Members of the House must run for reelection every two years, and therefore the NRA has become essential to candidates who are trying to portray themselves in a way that will appeal to conservatives and people who are living in swing districts, the article mentions. These candidates will do whatever is necessary to earn a good grade from the NRA.
This Democratic staffer, who didn't want to be named was interviewed by GQ, revealed that dealing with the NRA was the least favorite part of his job:
"We do absolutely anything they ask and we NEVER cross themÂ—which includes asking permission to cosponsor any bills endorsed by the Humane Society (the answer is usually no) and complying with their demand to oppose the DISCLOSE Act, neither of which have anything to do with guns," he said. "They've completely shut down the debate over gun control. It's really incredible. I'm not sure when we decided that a Democrat in a marginal district who loses his A rating from the NRA automatically loses reelection. Because it's not like we do everything other partisan organizations like the Chamber [of Commerce] or NAM [National Association of Manufacturers] tell us to..."
As long as politicians act like good little boys and girls, they receive a gold star. The NRA sweetens this toxic pot with money.
For 20 years, the NRA has contributed more than $2 million to politicians in New Mexico and Texas alone, according to the Sunlight Foundation.
While there are gun control advocacy groups, the NRA leaves them in the dust when it comes to campaign spending. Since 1990, gun control groups have contributed only $40,500 to support politicians in Texas and New Mexico, a far cry from the amount that the NRA spends listed above.
The NRA contributed $3.4 million to members of the incoming Congress, and the five biggest recipients are all Republicans, the Foundation reports. Don Young, of Alaska, Steve Chabot of Ohio, Pete Sessions of Texas, Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, and Lee Terry of Virginia received amounts ranging between $56,250 and $71,250.
With this much money being bandied about, it's understandable why the NRA wields substantial influence.
Now, Mayors Against Illegal Guns may do the same thing. Hopefully the organization will succeed, but it is tragic that politicians can be bought by the highest bidders. All Americans suffer because of this, whether or not they are for or against gun control. If this organization succeeds, that will be a marvelous thing, but personal safety shouldn't be left swaying in the breeze to be decided upon by greedy politicians and the heft of organizations that provide them succor.
Beginning Tuesday, MAIG will air a 60-second ad featuring Neil Heslin, father of Jesse Lewis, a victim in the horrific massacre of schoolchildren in Newtown, Connecticut. The group is spending more than $1 million to air the ad on television in ten specific states and on cable news in Washington, D.C.
According to the Wall Street Journal on Friday, MAIG is also releasing an ad that urges senators to support a compromise bill that is the brainchild of senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Patrick Toomey of Pennsylvania.
On the heels of this, the Senate managed to beat back an attempted filibuster by Republicans on Thursday, opening the doors to debate a gun control package, according to the Huffington Post.
The bill, put forward by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, passed by a vote of 68 to 31. It features expanded background checks, and a national commission on mass violence will be formed. A statute on federal gun trafficking will be created and measures to enhance school safety will be enforced.
For gun control supporters, this was a triumph. However, the bill is expected to face opposition from many Republicans and others who oppose gun control. If it makes it through the amendment process, some Republicans will likely promote measures which are designed to weaken the bill. Most notably, Senator Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina plans to introduce an amendment that would gut the bill and implement a watered-down alternative, the Post reports. After that, 60 votes will be needed in order to finalize debate on the bill and move it on to final passage. Once again, the NRA has announced that it will keep score. Undoubtedly many politicians have noted this.
Bloomberg, a multibillionaire, hopes to break the NRA's stranglehold on politicians. He's not afraid to break out his checkbook, but then neither is the NRA.
Most likely, the politicians will worship the highest bidder.
Photo courtesy of David Shankbone.