In the wake of the 2012 elections, where the National Rifle Association spent $18 million dollars to little effect, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre promised to defeat Democrats who do not support his organization's agenda in the 2014 elections. According to LaPierre, a columnist for the organization's publications, Democrats who support gun violence prevention laws will “go out on that plank” with President Obama and “the American public and the NRA will saw it right off.”
From the November 9 edition of The Daily News on NRA News:
LAPIERRE: So what [Obama] is going to try to do is walk a lot of Democrats out on that plank with him. Now that Obama has got no more elections in front of him, he is going to try to do the same thing that Bill Clinton did in '92 after he got elected, which is walk a lot of Democrats out on that plank of attacking the Second Amendment. And here's a prediction I make right now. If they go out on that plank with President Obama, he doesn't have any more elections; these Democrats will have more elections in front of them. I predict in 2014, when they are out on that plank, if they walk it with Obama, the American public and the NRA will saw it right off behind him and defend this freedom.
But the NRA had an abysmal track record for the 2012 elections. Besides failing to achieve its primary goal to defeat President Obama, the NRA backed the losing candidate in six out of seven Senate races where it spent more than $100,000. Over two-thirds of incumbent House members who lost re-election bids were endorsed by the NRA.
The NRA Political Victory Fund, the NRA's political action committee, spent $10,536,106 on the election but only 0.44 percent of its money went to supporting winning candidates and 0.39 percent went to opposing losing candidates.* According to The Hill, the NRA's return on investment ranked last among this election's big spenders and "[t]he figures challenge the popular political wisdom that the NRA is among Washington's most influential lobbying forces and that candidates who buck their agenda do so at their own peril."
The NRA's projection that it can influence elections is critical to its ability to raise massive amounts of money. But without tangible results, it may become difficult for the NRA to maintain this image and convince potential donors that the NRA's money is being well spent. Other political action committees that spent large sums of money without obtaining results, notably Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS, faced withering criticism and questions about their effectiveness in the wake of the election.
With the veil of electoral dominance lifted, it is not surprising that LaPierre would turn to the NRA's other method of raising funds: fearmongering.
Without citing any new developments, LaPierre also suggested during his NRA News appearance that the NRA's chief conspiracy theory -- that Obama did not take action on guns during his first term so that he could destroy the Second Amendment during his second term -- had been somehow vindicated. According to LaPierre, reporters that ridiculed him and called him “crazy” before the election are now calling him and asking, “Wayne, are you shocked Obama is coming after the Second Amendment?”
LAPIERRE: I think it's ironic that what's happening right now is the media is calling me up going, “Wayne, are you shocked Obama is coming after the Second Amendment? Does that shock you?” And, I mean, I look them straight in the eye and I go, “You guys got to be kidding me. Am I shocked that underneath this guy's political surface, you scratch it, he's anti-Second Amendment to the core? Of course I'm not shocked. I mean I've been saying this is what was going to happen all along. And you guys, when I said that during the campaign, you guys in the media said I was crazy, you guys said I was only doing it to try to raise money for the NRA. I mean what I'm shocked right now is that you guys aren't shocked. Because when I said Obama was coming after the Second Amendment if he got elected you guys ridiculed me.”
Since his election, Obama has not announced any new gun violence prevention initiatives. During the presidential campaign, Obama reaffirmed his support for an assault weapons ban, a position that he has held throughout his political career, which is also supported by a majority of the public.
*These numbers have been updated to reflect the release of additional information by the Sunlight Foundation concerning the NRA's independent expenditures during the 2012 elections.