MSNBC and the Big Picture
In an effort to make the upcoming Senate vote on tort reform for firearms manufacturers appear as nothing more than a squabble between political parties, MSNBC ran an AP story on July 26 leading with:
Senate Republicans on Tuesday moved the National Rifle Association’s top priority ahead of a $491 billion defense bill, setting up a vote on legislation to shield firearms manufacturers and dealers from lawsuits over gun crime.
Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein was quoted in the same article:
What’s happening on this gun liability bill is really despicable. To put that ahead of the defense bill, I think, is the most distorted priorities I can possibly conceive of.
At first blush, one would think that Senator Feinstein is the good guy here, but some pertinent information goes unreported which may call her motives into question: she has a history of supporting gun control, including calling for federal licensing of all handguns and certain other firearms as well. Herein lies the bias of MSNBC and the Associated Press: carefully selected information portrays the tort reform hearing as nothing more than a selfish and dangerous power play by the “gun lobby” and its implied hired minions in Congress.
Poor Gun Control Organizations?
The article goes on to state:
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the gun industry gave 88 percent of its campaign contributions, or $1.2 million, to Republicans in the 2004 election cycle. Gun control advocates funneled 98 percent of their contributions, or $93,700, to Democrats.
At face value, it appears that the “gun lobby” outspent gun control advocates by a ratio of almost 13:1. However, if one researches Open Secrets.org, the campaign finance web site of the Center for Responsive Politics from which the AP derived its information, one will find 2004 election cycle data that proves the numbers cited above are such a tiny part of the entire picture that a biased conclusion is being forced upon the unsuspecting reader. Since the AP has already opened the door by making it a Democrat versus Republican/NRA power struggle, let us follow their lead in order to expose their fallacious thinking.
During the 2004 federal election, law firms and trial lawyers contributed almost $135 million––75% of their total contributions and over 112 times the gun industry contributions––to Democrats, among whom are the most powerful and vocal proponents of gun control. Among the top contributors, you find the number one legal group was the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, which donated $2,589,832 in 2004, 92% going to Democrats. The third top legal contributor was Barron & Budd, who contributed $1,257,722 in 2004, 97% going to Democrats. Their donations resemble contributions from gun control organizations, 98% of which went to Democrats in 2004.
Both filed Amicus Curiae (Friend of the Court) briefs in support of plaintiffs in the Hamilton v Accu-Tek case, where plaintiffs took a large number of gun manufacturers and distributors to court in an attempt to hold them accountable for violent criminals who injured or killed their victims, alleging that the defendants were liable through negligence in the marketing and distribution of handguns. The Center to Prevent Handgun Violence (now the Brady Campaign) and the Educational Fund to End Handgun Violence also filed Amicus Curiae briefs in this case, showing a clear link between trial lawyers, law firms, and gun control groups.
Further research shows that of top 20 recipients of law firm contributions in the 2004 election cycle, 18 were Democrat. John Kerry––rated “F” by the National Rifle Association, indicating that he consistently votes for gun control––was number one, receiving over $22 million, about twice what George Bush received ($11.5 million). Kerry’s running mate John Edwards received almost as much as Bush (third at $10.1 million). Dick Gephardt, fourth overall at $2,718,252, is also rated “F” by the NRA.
Other 2004 law firm recipients included Barack Obama (6th overall at $2,106,836) who supports a ban on the sale or transfer of all forms of semi-automatic firearms, which would include all handguns that are not revolvers, plus many other sporting firearms. Barbara Boxer, 13th at $1,280,175 and Charles Schumer 14th at $1,185,802 are two long-standing supporters of gun control. Erskine Bowles 19th at $971,074, was quoted: “I would have voted to reinstitute the assault weapons ban."
To be fair, some Democrats support gun rights: Brad Carson of Oklahoma (17th, $1,050,836) is rated “A” by NRA. The point here is that rather than being overwhelmed by the “gun lobby,” there is ample financial assistance from gun control supporters to easily offset contributions to pro-gun Republican candidates. So the supposedly meager $94,000 in contributions from gun control organizations is a dodge around the political and financial reality of campaign contributions.
It is most interesting and instructive to notice how the “gun lobby” is implicated both by what is omitted from, and committed to, print. But what is even more curious is how, when gun control measures are passed, the media never complains how the “anti-gun-lobby” got its way. This final fact proves their inherent bias against guns.
Howard Nemerov publishes with Newsbusters and other sites and is a frequent guest on NRA News. He is currently working on his first book, Gun Control: Fear or Fact?
 Dianne Feinstein on Gun Control, On the Issues. http://www.issues2000.org/Domestic/Dianne_Feinstein_Gun_Control.htm
 Lawyers/Law Firms: Top Contributors to Federal Candidates and Parties, 2004 Election Cycle, Open Secrets.org, Center for Responsive Politics. http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/contrib.asp?Ind=K01&Cycle=2004
 Gun Control: Long-Term Contributions, Open Secrets.org, Center for Responsive Politics. http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/indus.asp?Ind=Q12
 Hamilton v Accu-Tek, U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals, August Term, 1999. http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=2nd&navby=case&no=997753v2&exact=1
 Lawyers/Law Firms, Top 20 Recipients, 2004 Election Cycle, Open Secrets.org, Center for Responsive Politics. http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/recips.asp?Ind=K01&cycle=2004
 Barack Obama on Gun Control, On the Issues. http://www.issues2000.org/Domestic/Barack_Obama_Gun_Control.htm
 Erskine Bowles on Gun Control, On the Issues. http://www.issues2000.org/Domestic/Erskine_Bowles_Gun_Control.htm
 Brad Carson on Gun Control, On the Issues. http://www.issues2000.org/Domestic/Brad_Carson_Gun_Control.htm