A protester holds a sign during the Moms Demand Action Advocacy Day rally at Liberty Plaza Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018, in Atlanta, lobbying for stricter gun laws. PHOTO / JASON GETZ
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Watchdog: NRA money piles up for Ga.’s congressional delegation

Last week’s mass shooting, killing 17 in Parkland, Fla., has put the spotlight on the National Rifle Association and its aggressive financial support of members of Congress.

“To every politician who is taking donations from the NRA, shame on you,” said Parkland student Emma Gonzalez at a rally Saturday.

President Donald Trump pushed back on that narrative Thursday.

In a series of tweets, the president outlined legislative proposals, including beefed-up background checks, a ban on bump stocks and raising the age to purchase a weapon to 21. But he also lent support to NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox, the head of the group’s lobbying wing.

“What many people don’t understand, or don’t want to understand, is that Wayne, Chris and the folks who work so hard at the @NRA are Great People and Great American Patriots,” Trump tweeted. “They love our Country and will do the right thing.”

To bring some transparency to the debate, I’ve pulled the figures on how much NRA support Georgia’s members of Congress have received over the years, along with their grade from the NRA and what they’ve said about gun rights or gun control.

In total, the pro-gun lobby has spent $2,506,760 on Georgia’s Congressional delegation, according to data from the Center from Responsive Politics. Here’s the rundown:

U.S. Senator David Perdue, Georgia’s junior senator, has been the recipient of the most spending by the pro-gun lobby. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., elected 2014

Direct NRA contributions: $4,950

Contributions by all gun rights groups: $17,150

NRA independent spending: $350,904 ($1.6 million spent against opponent)

Last NRA rating: A

Perdue on guns: “We all agree we must keep guns out of the hands of terrorists who wish to destroy our very way of life…At the same time, we must ensure strong due process protections are in place to protect the Constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans.” — June 20, 2016, statement.

Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., elected 2004

Direct NRA contributions: $14,950

Contributions by all gun rights groups: $56,450

NRA independent spending: $115,859

Last NRA rating: A

Isakson on guns: “I firmly believe that we do not need more gun control in America; rather we need more criminal control.” — Senate website.

Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Pooler, elected 2014

Direct NRA contributions: $4,000

Contributions by all gun rights groups: $12,300

NRA independent spending: $352

Last NRA Rating: A

Carter on guns: “We can reduce crime by holding criminals accountable for their actions, not by adding unnecessary layers of gun control.” — congressional website

Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Ga., is among the top Democratic recipients of money from the NRA.
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany, elected 1992

Direct NRA contributions: $49,350

Contributions by all gun rights groups: $58,815

NRA independent spending: $146

Last NRA rating: A

Bishop on guns: “I believe that law-abiding adults should be free to exercise their right to purchase, own, and carry firearms for the protection of their homes and families.” — congressional website

Rep. Drew Ferguson, R-West Point, elected 2016

Direct NRA contributions: $3,000

Contributions by all gun rights groups: $3,250

NRA independent spending: $0

Last NRA rating: N/A

Ferguson on guns: “Concealed carry is the best defense against this type of attack. Disarming our citizens paints a target on their backs.” — June 16, 2016, comments on the Orlando nightclub attack

Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia, elected 2006

Direct NRA contributions: $0

Contributions by all gun rights groups: $0

NRA independent spending: $0

Last NRA rating: F

Johnson on guns: “Preventing future tragedies can only happen when elected officials find the courage to stand up to the gun lobby and reject dangerous proposals like this one that put public safety at risk.” — Dec. 7, 2017, statement  on the passage of “The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act”

Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., has received no money from pro-gun groups and receives an ‘F’ from the NRA on its national report card. DAVID BARNES / AJC.COM
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Rep. John Lewis, D-Atlanta, elected 1986

Direct NRA contributions: $0

Contributions by all gun rights groups: $0

NRA independent spending: $0

Last NRA rating: F

Lewis on guns: “This Congress has failed the American people. As in Newtown and Aurora and Charleston and Orlando, now in Las Vegas, how many more must die?” — Oct.4, 2017, statement 

Rep. Karen Handel, R-Roswell, elected 2017

Direct NRA contributions: $3,000

Contributions by all gun rights groups: $22,675 ($65,261 spent against opponent)

NRA independent spending: $21,997

Last NRA rating: N/A

Pro-gun groups spent some money on behalf of Rep. Karen Handel, R-Ga., in her Congressional race against Jon Ossoff. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Handel on guns: “She supports the right of law abiding citizens to carry a concealed weapon and believes that obtaining a carry permit should not be made so onerous as to become a de facto ban on such permits.” — 2010 statement  on Handel’s gubernatorial campaign website

Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Lawrenceville, elected in 2010

Direct NRA contributions: $2,000

Contributions by all gun rights groups: $4,000

NRA independent spending: $0

Last NRA rating: B

Woodall on guns: “I will be the first to support any law that would prevent another tragedy like the one in Newtown, but I will also be the first to oppose policies that limit or eliminate Second Amendment guarantees and freedoms.” — Jan. 17, 2013, statement

Rep. Austin Scott, R-Macon, elected 2010

Direct NRA contributions: $7,500

Contributions by all gun rights groups: $26,586

NRA independent spending: $0

Last NRA rating: A

Scott on guns: “I will continue to fight against attempts in Congress to interfere with your right to keep and bear arms.” — Jan. 8, 2016, statement

Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, elected 2012

Direct NRA contributions: $4,500

Contributions by all gun rights groups: $11,000

NRA independent spending: $6,640

Last NRA rating: A

Collins on guns: “Our forefathers didn’t cement our right to defend ourselves and our families as a philosophical exercise — they were protecting freedoms that they recognized as essential elements of our democracy.” — Dec. 6, 2017, statement  on his vote for the “Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act”

Rep. Jody Hice, R-Bethlehem, elected 2012

Direct NRA contributions: $4,000

Contributions by all gun rights groups: $25,967

NRA independent spending: $0

Last NRA rating: A

Hice on guns: “I will never support any measure that infringes upon the rights of law-abiding American citizens to purchase, use, and keep firearms and ammunition.” – Jan. 6, 2016, speech

Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Woodstock, elected in 2014

Direct NRA contributions: $5,000

Contributions by all gun rights groups: $13,900

NRA independent spending: $0

Last NRA rating: A

Loudermilk on guns: “ I have been around guns all my life and I have yet to have a gun jump up and just arbitrarily start shooting anyone. Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” — Jan. 6, 2016, speech

Rep. Rick Allen, R-Augusta, elected 2014

Direct NRA contributions: $4,000

Contributions by all gun rights groups: $15,700

NRA independent spending: $0

Last NRA rating: A

Allen on guns: “As we have seen in recent events, the threat of terror is more real than ever, and stripping law-abiding citizens’ Second Amendment rights does nothing to promote safety and protection.” — Jan. 5, 2016, statement 

Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta, elected 2002

Direct NRA contributions: $0

Contributions by all gun rights groups: $0

NRA independent spending: $0

Last NRA rating: D

Scott on guns: “A careful balance between Second Amendment rights and safety in gun ownership is necessary in crafting any policy towards gun control, and I am sensitive to both sides of the issue.” — congressional website.

Rep. Tom Graves, R-Rome, elected 2010

Direct NRA contributions: $13,650

Contributions by all gun rights groups: $36,150

NRA independent spending: $0

Last NRA rating: A

Graves on guns: “As a strong supporter of Second Amendment rights, I will always back legislation that upholds each American’s constitutional right to keep and bear arms.” — congressional website.

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