The National Rifle Association has spent nearly $3 million supporting and opposing Congress members from Pennsylvania over the span of their careers, according to data from campaign finance tracking website OpenSecrets.
The recent mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, where a gunman killed 14 children and two teachers in an elementary school, has made firearm reform to a top priority in the House, including a Democratic-led package of bills expected to pass the House Judiciary Committee Thursday.
Those reform bills, such as raising the minimum age to purchase an AR-15-style rifle from 18 to 21 nationwide, are not expected to pass the Senate, where Republicans have indicated they would not support major gun reforms.
About 248 Republican House representatives and senators have received over $70 million in direct and indirect support from the NRA over the span of their careers, which ranges between one and 48 years in office.
The nonprofit group boasts nearly 5 million members and describes itself as a “major political force” in Second Amendment advocacy on its website.
Almost half of NRA support spending has been in Utah ($13.6 million), North Carolina ($13 million) and Missouri ($6.1 million). Nearly all of the NRA’s contributions in Utah have gone to Republican Sen. Mitt Romney.
Pennsylvania ranks 10th in NRA support with nearly $2.2 million spent on seven Republican House members and retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, who alone makes up about $1.47 million of the state total and ranks 11th for most spent on a single member nationally.
Toomey said late last month he was considering proposing a bill similar to one he worked on 10 years ago with Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia to expand background checks on all commercial gun sales following the shooting at Uvalde and another mass shooting in Buffalo, New York.
“I think that something in that space of expanding background checks to capture those commercial sales that are not commonly captured is the place where we are most likely to have a chance of getting an outcome,” Toomey told WHTM-TV in Harrisburg on May 25.
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The OpenSecrets data divides the political contributions for candidates across five categories, including direct support from the nonprofit’s political action committee or its employees and contributions to groups opposing a challenger to the incumbent.
More often than not, the NRA puts more money into other political committees that support an incumbent or oppose their challenger than the group does in direct support to that lawmaker.
For example, Toomey has only seen direct support form the NRA totaling about $27,250 since his first run for office in 1998 but about $889,130 has gone to groups supporting Toomey and another $559,068 has gone to groups opposing anyone who ran against him.
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The following members of Congress from Pennsylvania have received no funds in support or opposition from the NRA: Reps. Chrissy Houlahan, D-06; Mary Gay Scanlon, D-05; Madeleine Dean, D-04; Dwight Evans, D-03; Brendan Boyle, D-02; Brian Fitzpatrick, R-01.
While most of the NRA’s spending has been to support about 262 sitting members of Congress through their political careers, it’s also spent about $27.8 million against 155 lawmakers.
Only three of those lawmakers opposed by the NRA are Republican, including Rep. Guy Reschenthaler of Pennsylvania’s 14th Congressional District.
About 44% of that opposition spending collectively is in North Carolina and Georgia, with Pennsylvania’s $475,997 spent against six sitting congressional members ranking 13th nationally.
Who the NRA supports
Sen. Pat Toomey, RFirst year: 1998Direct support: $27,250Independent support: $889,130Independent expenditures against opponent: $559,068Support total: $1.47 million
Rep. Mike Kelly, R-16First year: 2010Direct support: $14,000Independent support: $359,772Independent expenditures against opponent: $1,914Support total: $375,686
Rep. Lloyd Smucker, R-11First year: 2016Direct support: $10,950Independent support: $226,342Independent expenditures against opponent: $0Support total: $237,292
Rep. Scott Perry, R-10First year: 2012Direct support: $17,950Independent support: $31,148Independent expenditures against opponent: $12,945Support total: $62,043
Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-15First year: 2008Direct support: $14,500Independent support: $11,029Independent expenditures against opponent: $0Total: $25,529
Rep. John Joyce, R-13First year: 2018
Direct support: $3,000Independent support: $12,253Independent expenditures against opponent: $0Support total: $15,253
Rep. Dan Meuser, R-09First year: 2008Direct support: $6,000Independent support: $8,421Independent expenditures against opponent: $0Support total: $14,421
Rep. Fred Keller, R-12First year: 2019Direct support: $3,500Independent support: $9,393Independent expenditures against opponent: $0Support total: $12,893
Who the NRA opposes
Sen. Bob Casey, DFirst year: 2006Independent opposition: $20,403Independent expenditures for opponent: $328,986Opposition total: $349,389
Rep. Conor Lamb, D-17 First year: 2018Independent opposition: $1,451Independent expenditures for opponent: $52,066Opposition total: $53,517
Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-08 First year: 2012Independent opposition: $0Independent expenditures for opponent: $46,953Opposition total: $46,953
Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, R-14First year: 2018Direct support: $4,500Independent support: $8,800Independent opposition: $0Independent expenditures for opponent: $33,150Opposition total: $19,850
Rep. Susan Wild, D-07First year: 2018Direct support: $13Independent support: $0Independent opposition: $0Independent expenditures for opponent: $5,169Opposition total: $5,156
Rep. Mike Doyle, D-18 First year: 1994Independent opposition: $566Independent expenditures for opponent: $566Opposition total: $1,132