The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic fallout has brought about a marked increase in government spending. On March 11, President Joe Biden signed a 628-page, $1.9 Trillion spending package. Moreover, House Democrats have made clear that they will revive congressional earmarks. As a single-issue gun rights organization, NRA does not take a position on the wisdom of non-gun-related government spending measures. However, it is imperative that gun owners understand how government largesse can be used to buy votes for gun control.
Following the defeat of so-called “universal” background check legislation in the U.S. Senate in April 2013, Politico attempted to get to the bottom of what they termed “President Obama’s biggest loss.” For the item, the author interviewed a person described as “an official with one of the major gun-control groups.”
The official made clear their desire to use taxpayer money to buy off politicians to vote for gun control and explained that this was once standard practice. The gun control organization representative lamented, “Bribery isn’t what it once was… The government has no money. Once upon a time you would throw somebody a post office or a research facility in times like this. Frankly, there’s not a lot of leverage.”
In a 2017 podcast interview with the Daily Beast, Patrick Griffin, who served as assistant to the President for legislative affairs during the Clinton Administration, shed light on how graft was used to secure votes for the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 - which included the federal “assault weapons” ban.
Explaining how the process worked, Griffin told the interviewer, “The candy store was a little more open back then… There were earmarks. There were things that were in the pipeline that you could loosen up. There were plane rides on Air Force One…. We sold anything.”
Some Democrats and their allies in the press have been explicit about their support for the use of taxpayer dollars to buy votes for controversial legislation. National Public Radio reported in December that “Democrats Want To Bring Earmarks Back As Way To Break Gridlock In Congress.” A contributor to Capitol news outlet The Hill recently noted, “earmarks could help with the absence of legislative activity that has plagued Congress as of late.” Describing the current situation, Reuters explained, “Earmarks are considered legislative ‘sweeteners’ that Democrats, who control both houses of Congress, can use to dissuade its members from defecting on major bills and attract votes from Republicans who otherwise would reject the measure.” On November 29, the New York Times Editorial Board opined, “Nothing greases the gears of government quite like pork.”
Anti-gun advocates and politicians will use any means at their disposal to attack the rights of law-abiding Americans. As history shows, this includes using tax dollars to pay off reluctant members of Congress for gun control votes. NRA members and other Second Amendment supporters should be alert to this underhanded practice and inform others of this legalized bribery.