In October, America experienced the deadliest mass shooting in modern history when 58 people were killed, and more than 500 injured, at a concert in Las Vegas. The following month, 26 people lost their lives, and 20 were injured, at a church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas.
There were also many incidents of gun violence that didn’t make the news. According to the Gun Violence Archive, 61,220 shooting incidents and 15,533 firearm deaths were recorded in the US in 2017. Mass shootings happened at a rate of almost one per day (345 in total) and 3,961 children under the age of 18 were killed or injured.
According to The Trace, an independent nonprofit news organization, suicides rarely make headlines, but guns play a devastating role. More lives are lost through suicide with firearms than any other type of gun violence.
Undoubtedly, gun violence is one of the greatest concerns of American society, but Congress, under the direction of the powerful gun lobby, is reluctant to pass gun control laws. Although experts consider the issue a public health epidemic, lobbying and an unwavering commitment to the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms has obstructed efforts to regulate guns or their sale.
Over the years, the National Rifle Association (NRA) has maintained a powerful influence over the politicians who write our laws. Indeed, Federal Election Commission reports show that the NRA’s PAC and nonprofit arms spent a combined $54.4 million in the 2016 elections.
Not only did the NRA spend $30.3 million backing Donald Trump, it supported each of six Republican Senate candidates with contributions totaling $20 million. The investments paid off with Trump scooping the presidency and Richard Burr (R-NC), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Todd Young (R-IN) and Rob Portman (R-OH) all winning their states. Only Joe Heck was defeated in Nevada. Republican Ted Cruz and House Speaker Paul Ryan also received $360,727 and $171,977 respectively in the 2015 to 2016 election cycle. You’ll find a more extensive list here.
Despite the fallout from two of the worst gun massacres of modern times in 2017, the House of Representatives ended the year by passing The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 on December 6. The legislation forced all states to recognize out-of-state permits for concealed weapons, making the weakest protections the lowest common denominator.
The NRA can make money talk – but the good news is that concerned citizens can use their investments to stand up to the gun industry too. In 2016 New York City Employees’ Retirement System voted to divest its shares in several retailers who sell guns. Since then, California treasurer John Chiang has proposed a similar move for California’s own pension funds.
You can join that movement. Using consumer and industry reports, OpenInvest has identified the public companies that profit most from sales of weapons and ammunition. If you want to make a stand, OpenInvest can help you divest from any company profiting from gun violence.
Thanks to lobbyists, it might seem like your vote doesn’t always count in Washington, but by refusing to fund the gun industry you can make your money vote for you. Sign up here to learn more.