A gunman opened fire in a gay nightclub in Orlando early Sunday morning, killing at least 50 people and wounding 53 more. It marks the worst mass shooting in American history, according to law enforcement officials.
What often gets lost in the debate around gun control that ensues after these tragedies is the fact that Washington policymakers have little financial incentive to pass gun-control legislation. That’s because gun-control groups spent $1.2 million on lobbying, compared to $8.4 million by gun-rights groups—a sevenfold difference.
This, coupled with the fact that public support for gun control has actually waned in the post-Sandy Hook years, makes it very difficult—and perhaps unlikely—that America will see an end to its mass shootings anytime soon. As Francie Diep reported for Pacific Standard last year:
[M]ass shootings rarely budge Americans’ opinions on gun rights. The exception was the killing of 20 children and six staffers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012, which prompted a flurry of proposed laws on both sides and temporarily upped public support for gun control by 10 percent. Yet even in the year after Sandy Hook, gun rights outspent gun control in lobbying by a factor of seven: $15.3 million, versus $2.2 million.
If there’s to be any chance for gun-control legislation, it may have to come through politician’s (and their constituents’) hearts, rather than any amount of financial motivation. As Seth Masket wrote:
But let’s not assume that an issue is untouchable because it’s complex or has deep cultural roots. So does every social issue. Some have seen legal changes anyway, and some of those changes have done the country a great deal of good.