SALT LAKE CITY — The gun rights industry has given almost $30,000 this election cycle to Utah’s four congressman and one of its senators.
The congressional delegation has received far more over the years, according to OpenSecrets.org. It’s a not-for-profit that examines campaign donations and lobbying. It categorizes groups such as the National Rifle Association and the National Shooting Sports Foundation as part of the gun rights industry.
Sen. Mitt Romney is not up for election in 2022 and is not listed as receiving gun rights money this year or in his 2018 campaign. However, OpenSecrets.org lists him as having received $1.1 million from the gun rights industry – the most of anyone to serve in Congress since 1989. That money appears to have been directed to his two presidential campaigns.
All of Utah’s congressional delegation is Republican, and gun rights has been a big part of its platform in recent decades.
Leah Murray, a political science professor at Weber State University, said she doesn’t think a congressman like Utah’s Blake Moore, for example, takes a position on guns because of the contributions from the guns rights industry.
“I think they find themselves in the same pool,” Murray said.
“But I think members are very aware of their positioning,” Murray added, “and where they do receive money from, especially in hot cycles”
“So, I think behavior of Senator Lee looks a little different this year than Senator Romney, because Senator Romney is not in a race.”
In 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives passed two bills to enhance background checks on gun buyers. All four of Utah’s House members voted nay.
The bills have not yet received a vote in the Senate, presumably because there aren’t ten Republican senators who will help the legislation overcome filibusters.
Romney’s office sent remarks he gave today at the Capitol saying he would be open to new legislation.
“Background checks and updating our background check technology is something that I think is an appropriate federal responsibility,” he said.
As for the campaign money, a Romney spokesperson issued a statement saying: “No one owns Senator Romney’s vote, as evidence by his record of independence in the Senate.”