People are starting to take a close, critical look at the National Rifle Association, in the wake of the tragic shooting in Newtown, CT on Friday.

The website Legal Ethics Forum points out some salient statistices from

First Amendment Political Speech, the Second Amendment and the Best Gun Laws Money Can Buy

The National Rifle Association (NRA) has been a well-known fixture on the political landscape for a long time. The more recent news is that the NRA spends even more money on off-the-books political advocacy (about $17.6 million) than it does on political contributions (about $1 million) and lobbying (about $3 million).

Legal Ethics Forum also offers some commentary on this observation here.

Lee Fang, writing in The Nation, also takes a look at the NRA’s political spending, in a piece titled “Does the NRA Represent  Gun Manufacturers or Gun Owners?“. Here’s an excerpt:

The National Rifle Association portrays itself as an organization that represents “4 million members” who simply love the Second Amendment. The truth is much more murky.

In reality, the NRA is composed of half a dozen legal entities; some designed to run undisclosed attack ads in political campaigns, others to lobby and collect tens of millions in undisclosed, tax-deductible sums. This power has only been enhanced in the era of Citizens United, with large GOP donors in the last election reportedly funneling money to the NRA simply to use the group as a brand to pummel Democrats with nasty ads. (As The Huffington Post’s Peter Stone reported, even the Koch network now provides an undisclosed amount to the NRA.)

Despite the grassroots façade, there is much evidence to suggest that corporations that profit from unregulated gun use are propping up the NRA’s activities, much like how the tobacco lobby secretly funded “Smokers Rights’” fronts and libertarian anti-tax groups, or how polluters currently finance much of the climate change skepticism movement.

In a “special thanks” to their donors, the National Rifle Association Foundation lists Bushmaster Firearms Inc., the company that makes the assault rifle reportedly found with the shooter responsible for the mass murder today in Newtown, Connecticut. How much Bushmaster Firearms Inc. (a firm now known as Windham) contributes is left unsaid…

The full article can be found here.

Unlimited outside spending to influence America’s elections by corporations and indviduals was enabled by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which Free Speech For People works to overturn with an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Photo by jcomp /