Gun Lobby Influence On Responses to Mass Shootings

Following several mass shootings in the U.S. and the ensuing political debate, American Oversight is investigating state and federal responses to gun-related tragedies. Government officials frequently claim they will take concrete, legislative action to address gun violence, but little or nothing ever actually happens. And while gun industry groups like the National Rifle Association (NRA) appear to go silent online, documents show they continue to lobby elected officials behind the scenes.

What We’re Seeking:

  • Records from Florida’s Attorney General and Governor offices containing communications, calendar entries, and talking points following the Parkland shooting — specifically communications with the NRA, Gun Owners of America, and the Second Amendment Foundation
  • Records from the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) seeking communications following shootings in Nevada, Texas, California, and Florida
  • Communications between gun industry groups and state government officials in Texas, California, and Nevada in the immediate aftermath of the mass shooting events that occurred in those states in late 2017


On October 1, 2017, a gunman opened fire on a concert in Las Vegas killing fifty-eight people and injuring more than five hundred. Then, on November 5, another shooter killed twenty-six people worshipping at a Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. On November 14, yet another man killed at least four at a California elementary school and other locations around Rancho Tehama, leaving at least ten additional people injured.

The shootings have continued in 2018. Most recently, on February 14, a nineteen-year-old killed seventeen people after entering a Parkland, Florida, high school with a semiautomatic rifle. This event once again sparked a national debate regarding the need to change gun laws and the role that the gun lobby plays in thwarting any policy change.

While politicians continue to offer statements of their “thoughts and prayers,” American Oversight is seeking to shed light on what steps state and federal officials are taking to address gun violence in the wake of the recent tragedies and to expose how the gun lobby and organizations like the NRA are influencing policy behind closed doors.