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slides: Gun Money’s Influence in Rhode Island

Saturday, December 14, 2013


Rhode Island was the only state in the nation where gun control proponents donated more money toward federal candidates in recent elections than gun rights advocates.

But the vast majority of all direct contributions supported gun rights and went toward candidates for state office. In the most recent election cycle, financial disclosure reports tally $229,650 in contributions to Ocean State candidate coffers by the National Rifle Association.

“How the gun lobby works is they're able to be influential with a few key legislators,” said Maureen Moakley, a University of Rhode Island professor of political science.

“They're able to control the dialogue,” despite majority public support for regulations, Moakley said, “and they're able to exert influence that way,” through local and well-known members of the legislature.

By the numbers

Guns fuel big money in politics, even in a state with comparatively high regulation and a legislature dominated by one party like Rhode Island. A combined $254,819 was reported in direct contributions during and after the 2011-12 election cycle.

Those numbers are a compilation by the nonprofit, nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation using source data from the Center for Responsive Politics and the National Institute on Money In State Politics.

But convoluted campaign finance law doesn't limit or require the disclosure of all types of political spending, meaning the total sum is greater.

The latest data includes political contributions reported during the 2011-12 election cycle and through some of 2013. The money went toward candidates, political parties, and political action committees (PACs), but not independent or so-called “super PACs”.

In Rhode Island, $5,612 in support of gun rights went toward federal candidates, while $19,557 was donated toward federal candidates by groups in favor of gun control.

Nationwide, the NRA hands out the most: In the 2011-12 cycle, they reported $1,599,951 in direct contributions across the country, $5,885,000 in lobbying, and a whopping $19,767,043 in outside spending. The Center for Responsive Politics, which reports those figures, calls the NRA a “heavy hitter” as one of the 140 biggest overall donors in federal elections.

Exeter recall election today

Today, Saturday, Dec. 14, makes the one-year anniversary of the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., and it's also the scheduled date for a local recall election in Exeter, where four town councilors could be unseated.

The vote follows a council action that requested a change to how concealed carry permits are issued in the town, by the clerk's office as opposed to local police department, as is the case in all other towns. The four Democratic councilors asked the General Assembly to hand the task, background checks included, to the state attorney general's office. (Exeter has no police force and the change didn't occur.)

A petition drive was launched with the backing of a Political Action Committee, “We The People of Exeter,” supported by the Rhode Island Firearm Owners League.

What was initially a question of gun permitting was sold to the small town as an issue of “local control” according to Moakley.

“It will be curious to see how many people turnout,” she said, after petitioners “turned the issue from guns, which I don't think would have garnered support, into an issue of local control.”

Brian Bishop, a spokesperson for We the People, agreed the debate wasn't “merely a firearms issue.”

“We viewed the actions of the town council resolution as taking away the rights of Exeter citizens and surrendering our local powers to the state,” Bishop said in an October release.

A PAC opposed to the recall election, “Save Exeter,” formed later in October. Because of disclosure filing deadlines, the total spent by either committee — and their respective funding sources — won't be known until after the election.

New regulations pass in RI, elsewhere

Rhode Island did enact laws in 2013 that strengthened gun regulations, including H. 5286/S. 455, making it unlawful for any person to receive, transport, or possess any firearm which has had any maker, model, manufacturer's number, or other mark of identification removed, altered, or obliterated. Another, H. 5992/S. 862, creates a Behavioral Health and Firearms Safety Task Force to review and make recommendations for statutes relating to firearms and behavioral health issues.

Following the Newtown shooting last year, Connecticut approved new restrictions on high capacity magazines, expanded background checks, and toughened an assault weapons ban in April.

While efforts toward new gun regulations faltered at the federal level by the beginning of the year, eight states enacted new, substantial laws. Thirteen more passed smaller reforms.

Activity in state legislatures was not solely focused on tighter regulation, however; an April review of 1,500 bills by the Sunlight Foundation found a nearly even split between the number of proposed bills that would further regulate guns and bills designed to extend or defend gun rights.

Ranking states' laws

Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island were among the states with the strongest gun laws in the nation according to a Dec. 9 report by the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a nonprofit organization in support of gun regulation.

In state by state scorecards from the law center, based on a review of state laws in 30 different firearms-related policy areas, Massachusetts ranked 6 th in the nation and earned a “B+” grade. In 2010, the state had the second lowest number of gun deaths per capita.

Rhode Island ranked 9th, earning a grade of “B-”. In 2010, the state had the third lowest number of gun deaths per capita.

California topped the rankings.

Elsewhere in New England, Connecticut took the 2nd place spot with an “A-”, New Hampshire was 23rd with a “D-”, and Maine and Vermont were among the 25 states earning an “F”, ranked at 27th and 46th, respectively.

Related Slideshow:
The Influence of Gun Money in New England States

New Data from The Sunlight Foundation shows state-by-state breakdowns for donations to groups on both sides of the gun debate. The money went toward candidates, political parties, and political action committees (PACs), but doesn't include donations to independent or so-called “super PACs”.


See how much money went to candidates in each of the New England States in the slides below.

Prev Next

Rhode Island

State Candidates

Control $: 0

Rights $: 229650

Federal Candidates

Control $: 19557

Rights $: 5612

Prev Next


State Candidates

Control $: 2850

Rights $: 20538

Federal Candidates

Control $: 54058

Rights $: 104579

Prev Next


State Candidates

Control $: 8325

Rights $: 51700

Federal Candidates

Control $: 27318

Rights $: 142505

Prev Next


State Candidates

Control $: 4076

Rights $: 56200

Federal Candidates

Control $: 43666

Rights $: 121596

Prev Next


State Candidates

Control $: 0

Rights $: 40330

Federal Candidates

Control $: 4500

Rights $: 7550

Prev Next

New Hampshire

State Candidates

Control $: 1500

Rights $: 22475

Federal Candidates

Control $: 34337

Rights $: 293560


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Joe Lu

So what about the influence of the ANTI-Gun Lobby? I know they are out there because Move-On.org sends me emails DAILY.

Lorraine Botts

IMO Gun Control will control only the guns applied for by law abiding citizens. Guns will still run rampant in the world of criminals and gangs.

Its not guns that kill people, its the people pulling the trigger....control them, not guns.

Killary Klinton

So - how much bribe money did "anti-second amendment" Bloomberg give our four horsemen in Congress? How much money did Nanny Bloomberg give Taveras? Notice the lack of data on this? Just another BS article.

Stop this war on the second amendment and concentrate on exposing the criminals in Washington DC who are doing everything they can to diminish our Constitutional rights.


Guns don't kill people, people kill people.

David Nelson

Here it is, the one-year anniversary of the New Town/Sandy Hill Elementary School horror. During this last year we have seen little done to decrease the plague of deaths and injury that result from a society awash in guns and fear. Over 30,000 people (men, women, and children) are killed are killed every year by people using guns. Since President Kennedy was murdered, more Americans have died from gun-related homicides in the US than have died in all the wars fought by the US armed forces. Meanwhile, the NRA lobbies to prevent and to repeal any gun control measures. Most of the money used for these purposes comes from the firearms manufacturers. This suggests that this is less an issue about gun owners rights and more about keeping and increasing market share by firearms manufacturers. So, perhaps we should think about the money used to lobby for the prevention and repeal of gun control measures as blood money.

Odd Job

compared that to the public sector union influence?

Mark St. Pierre

Yup, lets keep making guns readily available for the wackos to their hands on and making our schools in this country shooting galleries.

Killary Klinton

The highest quantity of gun related deaths are in "gun free" zones.

Just make "gun free" zones illegal.


Liberalism is a mental disorder.

Comdr. Dreyer

Wake up citizens.
Calm down.
Let common sense prevail.
If it weren't for guns we'd be speaking a dialect of German/Japanese.
As it is we may be on our knees to Kim Jung Un in the future.
.....and you laugh!

Sammy Arizona

As we all know, the Second Amendment requires that every person, no matter how stupid, emotionally ill-equipped or mentally unstable, have unlimited access to firearms on demand.
Morons with guns should be required to wear large signs notifying sane people that they are armed and ready to kill. Cigarettes have a warning label, idiots with guns should too.

The proliferation of guns in this country presents a real danger to the 75% or so of us who do not own guns and would like to NOT get killed by one.
I also think that it is not unreasonable to require universal background checks for all gun sales, and I would also like to see mandatory liability insurance for gun ownership. If I have to have liability insurance for a car or truck, why should anyone escape responsibility for any injury or death caused by their guns? Insurance guarantees that there will be money to pay for damages

Remember Sandyhook, when a vigilante gunnut provided her mentally ill son with the guns and bullets to kill 20 babies

john paycheck

with all due respect to the deceased---

Oklahoma city
boston marathon bombing
2 recent murders in boston

no guns involved in any of these..

personally, I think violence in society has alot to do with the violence in movies and the media today. people see and people things in the movies and copy them.

human life is also very cheap to many these days. not sure if that has anything to do with guns

paul zecchino

Having closely followed and well researched the issue for more than thirty years, these truths have proven to be immutable:

1. Criminologists over the past three hundred years have consistently stated that criminals will always have all the firearms they need.

2. Denying citizens the right to own firearms will not only not decrease violent crime, it will increase it by empowering criminals to prey upon disarmed, defenseless citizens.

3. Criminals ignore all gun laws, as they ignore laws in general. This is why they're called criminals.

4. History tells us that gun-control is always favored by tyrants who implement it to consolidate power into their hands, the better to subjugate and destroy the citizenry.

5. Gun-controllers will say and do anything - absolutely anything - using all necessary means to disarm law abiding citizens, while leaving politicians and the criminals they find to be useful fully armed.

6. Never, ever, trust a gun-controller. Ever.

7. First, they take the guns. Next, they take your life.

8. The inevitable net result of gun control is genocide. Hitler, Attaturk, Pol Pot, Mao, castro, stalin, lenin, and other communist tyrant psychopaths have repeatedly proved this. Only a dope would dispute it.

9. Gun-control, regardless where it's tried, always fails to reduce crime and in fact inevitably increases it, because criminals love to prey on defenseless targets.

Gun controllers know exactly what they're doing. They're a genocidal lot, never to be trusted.

paul zecchino

Funny how the 'ratings' pimped by that embittered old bag and her anti-gun ghouls inversely reflect the crime rates, isn't it?

What's that say about these obsessed anti-gun liars?

They rate CT very good for gun control laws? Yeah, right Sarah, bang-up job your gun laws did one year ago in Newtown, huh?

They rate VT at the bottom? So why is crime in VT so low? Perhaps because VT has no gun laws, thus every citizen is armed and dangerous to criminals who dare not prey on them?

No doubt the old bag rates Florida, southern, and western states as terrible with respect to their idiot 'gun control' laws. Which again in an inverse way explains why we don't have school shootings, 'knock out games' and other crimes which plague failed northern gulags run by collectivist ideologues and their partners in organized crime.

Wuggly Ump

In my opinion it is loss of respect for fellow humans that has increased violence.

Remember Sandyhook where a mentally ill person, murdered (we have a law against murder, didn't work) a firearms owner (his mother) to steal (we have laws against stealing, didn't work) the firearms.

Remember he went to a school with the firearms, we have a law against firearms on school grounds, didn't work.

Remember the doors were locked and he forced his way through a locked door, we have laws against breaking and entering, didn't work.

Remember when people in the school were calling for help, they were calling people WITH GUNS.

Remember the people WITH GUNS were too late to save 26 people.

Remember we have laws against murdering 20 children, that didn't work.

Remember we have laws against murdering 6 adults, that didn't work.

As far as your signs go, why label someone else when you could just label yourself. You can wear a sign to let everyone know you are sane and unarmed. I'm sure that all the good people that prowl the streets will appreciate your candor.

Killary Klinton

Kent State - students were murdered by whom?

The government.


If ignorant people outlaw guns, only outlaws will have them.

paul zecchino

June of 1989, Tianenmen Square, Peking, communist china: our 'partners in prosperity' drove tanks over unarmed, peaceful, Chinese citizens, literally flattening them.

One young Chinese woman told an American TV network reporter, 'this could never happen in your country because you have The Second Amendment which...'

At that, the reporter quickly withdrew the microphone and said, 'thank you, thank you very much.'

Seems the Right to Keep and Bear Arms didn't fit the marxstream media's 'alternate narrative' in 1989 any better than it fits it today.

The marxstream media, quackademia, and Hollywood much prefer fundamentally transformed third world police states in which the Elites and the street thugs they find so useful have the guns, the better to loot, subjugate, and anhiliate the masses they despise.

Laugh all you wish. History is filled with giddy useful idiots who giggled and laughed, stuffing their gubs with treats as they waited for the boxcars to take them to their next great adventure at the werk kamps.

Barry Hirsh

In case you were unaware, money is speech in political matters. See: Citizens United.

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