Generally, being mentioned in a Top Ten list is positive — a sign you’re doing something worth recognition. But U.S. Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-10th) is probably hoping no one will notice her appearance on the notorious list — U.S. House members receiving the most cash from the National Rifle Association.
Comstock lands at #10 on the list of House members collecting the most cash from the NRA during their careers — more than $137,000 from the discredited organization charged with opposing every sensible gun reform proposal that would stem the flow of blood in our schools, churches, and theaters. The “A” rating Comstock received from the NRA must stand for Arm Americans, because that’s what she’s about.
The Valentine’s Day school shooting in Parkland, Fla. that left 17 students and teachers dead has rekindled the flame for common-sense gun reform activism, spurred by the social media-savvy students who saw their classmates murdered. They have charged all those receiving NRA cash with wearing Badges of Shame. This new generation of gun reform leaders, although only in their first weeks as activists, has drawn a clear line in the sand: if you take NRA cash, you are responsible for the bloodshed.
That should have Comstock worried, because she’s out of step with the voters in her district. Representing Virginia’s 10th district, which stretches westward from the wealthy Washington D.C. suburbs to the West Virginia border, Comstock was named one of the most vulnerable Republican incumbents by the prestigious Cook Political Report, which sees her district as a prime pickup opportunity for the Democrats.
Late last year, Comstock enthusiastically voted for one of the Republicans’ top legislative priorities, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017, which would allow dangerous and untrained people to carry loaded, hidden guns in more public places. That vote occurred just days before the five-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, which killed 20 children between six and seven years old, as well as six adult staff members.
Comstock’s Concealed Carry vote was particularly tone-deaf, coming right on the heels of Virginia’s legislative and gubernatorial election which saw a blue sweep across the Commonwealth. Exit polls showed that gun reform was the second most important issue for voters, just behind health care. Newly-inaugurated Gov. Ralph Northam made gun reform a major issue in his campaign against Ed Gillespie, who touted his NRA “A” rating in TV ads.
But Comstock’s record of loosening gun laws doesn’t stop there: she voted to allow people on the terrorist watch list to purchase firearms, voted to give severely mentally ill veterans and social security disability beneficiaries easier access to firearms.
In short, there isn’t a pro-gun vote Barbara Comstock won’t take, or a Republican talking point she won’t parrot. Comstock even blamed the FBI for the Parkland shooting in a statement, calling out “the system” rather than the ability of a 19-year old to legally purchase an assault weapon and large capacity magazines.
This may be the year Comstock’s electoral luck runs out. Virginia’s 10th is now a blue district: in 2016, voters went for Clinton over Trump 52 percent to 42 percent. In the 2017 state elections, Democrat Ralph Northam took more than 56 percent in the governor’s race, winning by 12 percentage points. At the House of Delegates level, seven Republican incumbents with districts touching Comstock's Congressional district were defeated by Democrats. Meanwhile over the last two cycles, support for Comstock has decreased: in 2014 she beat her Democratic opponent by 16 points in her first election to the House, but that margin was down to less than 6 points in 2016.
The combination of the blue wave election results of 2017, the continuing surge of grassroots enthusiasm, and the clear takeaways from exit polling that standing with the gun lobby over the safety of your constituents has political consequences, does not bode well for Comstock.
In the days following the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, I knew that the LGBTQ community could be a new driving force in the fight for common-sense gun reform. That is why I created Pride Fund to End Gun Violence, a grassroots political action committee that focuses on defeating NRA backed politicians at the state and federal levels and replacing them with true champions for gun violence prevention.
Comstock’s history of taking significant amounts of NRA cash might earn her a spot on another list this year — in addition to being number 10 in NRA blood money — this year, she could be on the list of Republican incumbents who are defeated with the help of Pride Fund to End Gun Violence.
Jason Lindsay is founder and executive director of Pride Fund to End Gun Violence, a political action committee (PAC) that supports state and federal candidates who will act on sensible gun policy reforms and champion LGBTQ equality. He also served for 14 years in the U.S. Army Reserve and was deployed to Iraq in 2003.
Planned Parenthood spent more money in the last Presidential election then the NRA has since 1998. There are no government funds used by the NRA.
The NRA is a death cult.
Yeah because Obama did since a wonderful job. The NRA is not a death cult. Obama reign on America doubled the debt, more people collected unemployment, more people on food stamps, etc. You are one of the confused liberals. Feel sorry for you.
The minister of propaganda will be so proud of this article. How is the NRA a discredited organization? Planned Parenthood isn't, after it kills 300,000+ babies per year and harvests their organs for money?
What are the "common sense" gun control things the writer advocates. And if they're implemented, is that the end?
We know this is all a smoke screen to repeal the Second Amendment and disarm the People, just as the Nazi's did. Just as Hugo Chavez did. Just as Mao, Stalin and Pol Pot did. How did those gun control measures work out for the citizens?
But money from Planned Parenthood affiliates is okay?
Look forward to voting for Comstock. I appreciate a politiician who chooses to protect uphold the US Constitution and the rights guaranteed within. Now if we cna focus on the government incompetence in this case....2 FBI calls ignored, 29 to 45 visits to house from local law enforcement, school authorities alerted, police officer afraid to do his duty in a time of need. at every level the government has failed these poor kids....Our government is corrupt and full of morons...
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