The problem is with politicians more afraid of the gun lobby than they are of popular opinion. And historically, they had reason to. Safety advocates were big on statistics and emotion, short on cash. Meanwhile, the gun lobby could write checks seemingly at will.
Still, that NRA cash was incredibly ineffective in 2012—just 0.83 percent of the $11 million they spent gave them their desired outcome (either defeating an opponent or electing an ally). And now, we have two new organizations with serious heft ready to combat the gun lobby. And oh boy do they have cash:
The Michael Bloomberg-backed gun control group is spending $500,000 to attack Ayotte's vote against expanded background checks on Boston TV and another $150,000 on WMUR in Manchester, N.H. Ayotte has emerged as a top target for gun control groups after she declined to support expanded background checks. It comes on the heels of a $25,000 ad buy in defense of Ayotte by the National Rifle Association.Oh, the NRA wants to spend $25,000 to prop up one of its lackeys? How cute! Here's SIX HUNDRED AND FIFTY THOUSANDS FUCKING DOLLARS in response. Outgunned, the gun lobby has had to call in reinforcements. The American Future Fund, a GOP Super PAC, has come in with $250,000 in support of Ayotte.
When was the last time the gun lobby had to call in reinforcements? They used to be the heavy artillery, now they're trapped in a foxhole, flanked on one side by hostile public opinion, on the other by well-equipped opposition.
If this is the start of a trend and not a one-off, it dramatically reshapes the electoral/political equation. An overmatched gun lobby ultimately means fewer votes that 1) piss off a majority of constituents, and 2) generate a barrage of negative media. It could mean that the heavy firepower is on the side of public opinion.