Reality Check: The Revolt at Cincinnati

(FOX19) - The National Rifle Association has been around for well over a century, but did you know its roots as one of the most powerful political organizations in the country can be traced right here to Cincinnati?

It was May 211977 at the Convention Center when Harlan Carter, a hardliner against gun control legislation, along with a group of reformists staged a coup within the organization. The event is known historically as "The Revolt at Cincinnati."

Since then, the NRA's mission has been to defend 2nd Amendment rights at all costs, its lobby widely recognized as one of the most powerful, if not THE most powerful in all of Washington.

There may be no better example of the NRA's influence than in April of this year, when members of Congress voted to defeat Senate Bill 649—The Public Safety and 2nd Amendment Protection Rights Act, which would have expanded existing background checks to include gun shows and online sales.

The bipartisan legislation, authored by democratic senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania was designed, in part, to make it more difficult for the mentally ill to get their hands on firearms.

The day it was defeated, an angry President Obama publically accused the NRA's lobby of, "Willfully lying about the bill." Obama's frustration was also directed at members of his own party who voted against it.

So what makes the NRA so powerful? The answer might be as simple as following the money.

According to the Sunlight Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing transparency in government, 88 percent of republicans in the 113th Congress have received a contribution from the NRA at some point in their careers, along with 11 percent of Democrats.

The NRA offers key members of Congress campaign contributions including Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Republican Pete Sessions, the Chairman of the House Rules Committee, which determines the legislation that goes to the floor for a vote.

The gun lobby spends money both nationally and locally.

This summer the NRA donated more than $361,000 to the recall effort against two Colorado state senators who were instrumental in passing strict new gun control measures. The senators were voted out of office in early September.

There's no way to know whether Senate Bill 649 might have made it more difficult for Washington Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis to obtain the weapons he used to murder 12 people and wound several others.

And it's impossible to predict whether the bill might have prevented other shooters with established histories of mental illness from getting their hands on guns.

However, one thing seems certain: The chances of a similar bill being passed anytime soon are slim to none.

Asked this week whether he would reintroduce legislation expanding background checks to gun shows and online retailers, Senator Joe Manchin answered "no."

The reason? He doesn't have the votes.

And that is Reality Check.


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