WASHINGTON, Dec. 18, 2012 -- Faced with the National Rifle Association's silence in the wake of the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., opponents of the group are taking to Washington to protest.
Chanting "Shame on the NRA," a couple hundred activists marched Monday from a park on Capitol Hill to the NRA's office.
A nonprofit group called CREDO Mobile organized the "emergency march" in the wake of the killing of 20 children and six adults Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School and suggested that the NRA contributed to the gruesome murder through the policies it promotes.
Holding a sign reading, "I'm a victim of gun violence," Eddie Weingart, a massage therapist from Silver Spring, Md., recounted how his mother was shot and murdered by her ex-husband, who also tried to shoot him when he was just 2 years old.
"My mother was slain by her estranged ex-husband with a 12-gauge shotgun. He then turned that gun on me, and it malfunctioned, the fortunate reason why I'm here today," Weingart told ABC News. "I refuse to be silent. That's why I come to these protests. I choose to be a voice to let the NRA and other supporters of the Second Amendment and gun advocacy rights know that this affects me, this affects my family, it affects many families throughout our country."
The National Rifle Association has kept for the most part silent for the days following the attack, which was carried out with legally-purchased guns, but in the absence of tweets and press releases, money talks.
Under the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling, political contributions became free speech, so here's a look at what the NRA has to say.
That's the amount the NRA spent on lobbying activities in 2012. Ironically, that includes $1.845 million spent on lobbying expenditures by the parent group and $360,000 by the NRA Institute for Legislative Action, which identifies itself as the "lobbying arm of the NRA." This money went to promoting bills like S. 570, which would stop the government from tracking purchases of multiple rifles, and to condemning a piece of legislation introduced in the wake of the Aurora, Colo., theater shooting that would have essentially banned online ammunition sales. That bill never made it to a vote.
The NRA's PAC, National Rifle Association of America Political Victory Fund, started out 2012 with about five-and-a-quarter million dollars in their pockets. By the end of November, they had less than $1.5 million. So they spent about $4 million, right? Wrong. The NRA-PVF was taking in money during the election year; according to a post-election FEC report, they spent more than $13 million from the start of the year until Dec. 6.
They graded candidates on a modified A through F scale. The NRA gave Sen. Dick Lugar, R-Ind., an F rating, despite his rank as Indiana's longest-serving senator in history.
The group said that during Lugar's 36 years in Congress, he had moved "away from our shared values."
"He claimed to be a strong supporter of our rights when he first came to Washington. Now, he votes for gun bans," read a release titled "Hoosiers Defend Freedom" on the NRA-PVF website.
The cost of a Daisy Model 1938 Red Ryder BB Gun Kit at the NRA store, proceeds from which "go directly to support vital NRA programs," according to the store's website.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., was one of the few NRA members to go on record about loyalty to the organization this week. On MSNBC Monday, Manchin said he was "a proud member," but that the tragedy had changed him.
"We can protect the Second Amendment rights," Manchin said. "We definitely can protect it and we will protect it, but we can look at also ways that we can make our country and our children more safe. I really believe that, that we can sit down and have that dialogue and, hopefully, movement on that."