The United States is one of the few countries in the world with a constitutionally protected right to bear arms. While the U.S. makes up less than 5% of the world population, Americans own 45% of the world’s civilian firearms, according to the Swiss-based Small Arms survey. The U.S. is also a global outlier with far more gun-related homicides than other affluent democracies like Switzerland, Germany, and Canada.
America’s love of guns has its detractors both in society and in Congress, but the tide appears to be flowing with gun enthusiasts considering the Supreme Court June ruling recognizing the right to carry a handgun outside of the home for self-defense. The ruling strikes a New York law on the matter and allows for challenges in other states. Many senators are strong supporters of guns, together representing 124.1 million people, or 38% of the population residing in the 50 U.S. states.
To identify the senators who do the most to help the gun industry, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the National Shooting Sports Foundation 2022 Congressional Report Card, which assigned each member of Congress with a grade based on their support of gun legislation, opposition to NSSF-opposed legislation, and work in Congress to further the goals of the gun lobby. We listed the 32 senators with an A+ rating from the NSSF.
The NSSF is a powerful firearms trade association whose national headquarters is located 3 miles from Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, the site of the worst of 16 mass shooting that occurred in the U.S. in 2012, in which a 20-year-old man gunned down 20 children and six adults before taking his own life with firearms legally acquired by his mother.
Out of the 32 U.S. senators with the highest NSSF ratings, some 15 have approval ratings at or above 50% based on a Morning Consult survey in the first quarter of 2022. Each state is allotted two senators, and in 11 states, both senators have A+ ratings from the NSSF, including Texas and Florida, the second- and third-most populous states. (Here are states where people buy the most guns.)
Eight senators have received more than a million dollars in gun lobby donations. Republican Sen. Tom Tillis of North Carolina has received $4.4 million from the gun lobby since he was elected in 2014. In second place is Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Texas with $3.3 million, followed by Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana with $2.8 million.
The biggest donors to these lawmakers include Koch Industries, one of the largest U.S. private companies; UnitedHealth Group, the largest U.S. health insurance company by several measures; and Walmart, the world’s second largest retailer by revenue. (Find out who spends the most lobbying the U.S. government.)
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