Not a single pro-gun senator accepted an invitation to appear on NBC’S “Meet the Press” Sunday, two days after the shooting rampage in Newtown, Conn., that ended the lives of 20 small children and seven women.
"A note here this morning: We reached out to all 31 pro-gun rights senators in the new Congress to invite them on the program to share their views on the subject this morning," host David Gregory said Sunday morning. "We had no takers."
On Monday, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. -- one those 31 senators with an A rating from the National Rifle Association -- appeared on MSNBC'S "Morning Joe" to voice his support for a federal assault weapons ban. Manchin said he had been away deer hunting over the weekend.
Gun control advocates, including Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein of California and Chuck Schumer of New York, as well as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, inundated news and comment shows over the weekend in the wake of the Newtown massacre, the second-deadliest school shooting in recent history following the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings. This time, a majority of the victims were six and seven years old.
The gun lobby, meanwhile, has been silent. The NRA canceled a music event over the weekend, but has yet to release a statement in response to the shooting. Silence, as Buzzfeed points out, is typically how the NRA responds to mass shootings.
The NRA accounted for about 60 percent of gun lobby expenditures in 2011 and the first three quarters of 2012, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The group alone has reportedly spent more than 10 times as much as gun control advocacy groups during that period, topping off what has apparently been the most active election spending cycle for gun rights groups since 2000.
Other gun advocates include the Gun Owners of America, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, the National Shooting Sports Foundation and the Ohio Gun Collectors Association.
Larry Pratt, the executive director of Gun Owners of America, was one of the first to respond to the Newtown killings by asserting the victims would have been saved if firearms were allowed in schools. Gun control advocates, Pratt said, “have the blood of little children on their hands,” adding, “The only thing accomplished by gun-free zones is to insure that mass murderers can slay more before they are finally confronted by someone with a gun.”
The NRA itself spent more than $1 million on campaign contributions in 2012, donating heavily to Republican candidates, particularly presidential nominee Mitt Romney and Reps. Steve Fincher, R-Tenn., Eric Cantor, R-Va., and Jim Renacci, R-Ohio.
But while the gun lobby tends to lean right, several Democrats also receive financial support from those groups, including Reps. Jim Matheson of Utah, John Dingell of Michigan and John Barrow of Georgia.