What sort of lobby is the NRA? 

In the wake of a horriffic slaughter, we're not hearing too many calls for gun control. The media chalk this up to a "powerful gun lobby."

But if you look at the nature of the gun lobby it looks less like a K Street powerhouse and more like Obama-circa- 1985 community organizing shop.

LOBBYING EXPENDITURES: Over the past two years, the NRA has spent about $4 million on lobbying. That may sound like a lot, but it's relatively small. For instance, the American Association of Airport Executives has spent about 15% more in that same period. Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America have spent about 10 times as much on lobbying. AARP spends more in a quarter than the NRA has spent since Obama took office.

PAC SPENDING: In the last two election cycles, the NRA's PAC has contributed a combined $2.4 million to House and Senate candidates. Again, for comparison, AT&T's PAC has spent $6.7 million, the American Federation of Teachers has spent $4.6 million, and the Pipefitters Union has spent $4.3 million.

BIG-NAME LOBBYISTS: The NRA has no former congressmen, senators, or senior administration officials as lobbyists.

So where does the NRA's clout come from? Probably from its ability to connect with its approximately 4.3 million members, and its tendency to focus narrowly on gun rights, and mostly avoid partisanship.

This membership base -- as opposed to lunches at Charlie Palmers or Bob Dole on retainer -- makes members of both parties eager to please and afraid to cross the NRA.

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Timothy P. Carney

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