Hidden Threat to Second Amendment

Recently the American Bar Association published a report urging:

[F]ederal, state … governments to enact laws requiring that all newly-manufactured semi-automatic pistols be fitted with microstamping technology which would ensure that when a firearm is fired, an alphanumeric and/or geometric code would be stamped on the cartridge casing … that would enable law enforcement to identify the serial number of the pistol and hence the first known purchaser of a weapon used in a crime.

To succeed, microstamping requires building a permanent database of all gun owners (licensing) and linking their firearms by serial number (registration), two major goals of gun control advocates.

Two law firms represent patent holders that could make the ABA recommendation reality. They’ve spent $6.7 million on campaign contributions since 2004, while the entire gun rights lobby spent $6 million.

There are fortunes to be made promoting gun control.

As a newly converted gun control researcher, the first time I saw lawyer money intersect with gun rights was in 2005, when Congress enacted the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA). This tort reform banned manufacturer liability suits based upon injuries and damages resulting from criminal firearm use. Campaign finance watchdog Open Secrets notes that lawyers generally oppose tort reform.

According to Open Secrets, lawyers and law firms (aka the law lobby) contributed heavily to congressional and presidential races in 2004, more than any other industry, spending nearly $183 million on federal campaigns, with 74% going to Democrats.

During the PLCAA roll call, senators voting “Yea” received an average of $366,847 in lawyer contributions, while the 31 “Nay” voters – 29 Democrats – received $645,972, 73.4% more. Lawyer money represented the largest industry donor for most “Nay” voters, while for most “Yea” voters, it ranked between 3rd and 4th.

In the House, those who voted “Yea” on the bill, received an average of $49,464 apiece. “Nay” voters -- 140 of 144 were Democrats -- received an average of $74,742 apiece, 51% higher. Again, those voting against tort reform were more likely to have the law lobby as their biggest donor.

The law lobby bias existed in both the Senate and the House:

  • More law lobby money, more support for continued lawsuits against gun manufacturers when a criminal shoots somebody.
  • As the law lobby trended towards becoming the biggest contributor to a candidate’s campaign fund, that candidate was more likely to support gun control.*

Subsequent congressional vote analyses consistently supported these findings (e.g. the Vitter Amendment banning firearms confiscation during emergencies; the Disaster Recovery Personal Protection Act of 2006 in the House.)

In the 2008 election cycle, the law lobby spent over $233 million; it has spent $81.6 million so far in 2010. In the last two election cycles, 76% of that money went to Democrats, slightly above the historical average of 73%. Lawyers are the richest lobby in America, representing the largest segment of anti-rights Democrats’ campaign funding. In 2008, re-elected Democratic incumbents averaged a D+ NRA grade, while GOP incumbents averaged an A.

Campaign funding reflects a certain quid pro quo benefiting Democrats and their donors, making them resistant to change in campaign finance law.

In 2008, voters re-elected 223 Democratic House incumbents. The charts below show that within the Democratic Party, anti-rights representatives’ voting records correlated with the law lobby comprising a greater share of total campaign contributions.