By Jarod Golub and Julia Karron
WASHINGTON — As congressional gun talks ramp up, advocates for stronger safety laws have called for their representatives to stop accepting campaign finance donations from the National Rifle Association.
The gun rights advocacy group has given $263,818 to candidates in the first two months of 2018–98 percent of that going to Republican candidates, according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics (opensecrets.org), a non-partisan research group that tracks money in U.S. politics.
No Democratic lawmakers from Maryland have received any campaign contributions from gun rights or gun safety groups so far this year.
However, Rep. Andy Harris (R) has received $1,975, bringing the total since his first campaign in 2008 to $25,447 in funding from the NRA. No other senator or House member from Maryland has received contributions from gun rights advocacy groups, records show.
Neither the NRA nor Harris’s office responded to media inquiries by phone or email about his campaign contributions.
On the other side of the gun debate, Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D) has received the most money among current senators from gun safety advocates between 1989 and 2016: $105,595, according to Open Secrets data. Almost all of that came during his 2016 Senate campaign.
“This issue shouldn’t be political – it should be about doing everything we can to prevent the loss of another child, another parent,” Van Hollen said in an email to Capital News Service. “With over 90 percent of Americans saying they want something done, the GOP leadership’s refusal to consider measures that are proven to save lives is gross negligence.”
Van Hollen last year urged the National Institutes of Health to renew funding that had lapsed for firearm violence research and introduced legislation with Sen. Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts), which would have set aside $10 million each year from 2018 through 2023 for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct or support research on gun violence prevention and firearms safety.
Another Maryland representative, Rep. Anthony Brown (D), introduced bipartisan legislation Tuesday that would raise the minimum age required to purchase a semi-automatic weapon from 18 to 21.
“This common-sense bipartisan bill is a critical first step that closes a dangerous loophole in our gun laws,” Brown said in a statement.
Brown has not received any contributions from gun control groups during his career. Neither have Democratic Reps. John Delaney of Potomac, Jamie Raskin of Kensington, Dutch Ruppersberger of Timonium and John Sarbanes of Towson.
Over the course of his political career, Sen. Ben Cardin (D) has received $2,000 in total contributions from gun control advocates; Rep. Elijah Cummings (D) received $2,450, and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D) received $2,000, according to Open Secrets.