Gun lobby extends well beyond the NRA

By Laurie Bennett

December 17, 2012 at 4:40pm

The phrase “gun lobby” is often used as a synonym for the National Rifle Association.

Yet another organization, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, acts as a trade group and lobbyist for gun makers.

It’s a horrible irony that the foundation is based in Newtown, CT, site of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.

The New York Times reports today that the group was one of the opponents of stricter gun laws in the town.

It also wields influence in Washington, spending $500,000 this year on lobbying. (The NRA is a much bigger spender, with a lobby tab this year of $2.2 million.)

In addition to in-house lobbyists, the foundation pays three outside firms. Former Rep. Max Sandlin (D-TX) of Mercury/Clark & Weinstock is one of its lobbyists.

Some of its members have their own lobby shops, as the Muckety map above shows.

Smith & Wesson employs Greenberg Traurig. Beretta USA is represented on Capitol Hill by American Defense International, a firm headed by Van D. Hipp Jr., a former South Carolina Republican chairman who also served as deputy assistant secretary of the Army.

One of the biggest players in the industry is Freedom Group, a collection of arms companies assembled by Cerberus Capital Management, the private investment firm that bought Chrysler back in 2007. Bushmaster, a weapon used by the shooter at Newton, is one of Freedom Group’s products.

Cerberus is represented in Washington by the influential Patton Boggs firm.

Take the influence web one step further - to include arms vendors, and the so-called “gun lobby” includes one of America’s largest companies. Wal-Mart sells weapons, including the Bushmaster. So far this year, the company has spent $4.65 million lobbying Washington.

Update: Cerberus Capital Management announced Tuesday that it plans to sell Freedom Group

Related stories:

  • Eliot Spitzer calls on pension funds and other investors to target Cerberus.
  • The Nation: How Walmart Helped Make Newtown Shooter’s AR-15 the Most Popular Assault Weapon in America
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