Politicians Told To ‘Stop Taking NRA Money’ After Florida Massacre

Many legislators expressed their condolences only to be met with criticism over voting against gun-control measures

US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — AFP/Getty Images
Jun 12, 2016 at 3:20 PM ET

After 50 died and another 53 were wounded in a mass shooting at an Orlando gay nightclub on Sunday, many social media users called out members of Congress for not doing more to prevent gun violence and protect the rights of LGBT people.

Dozens of U.S. representatives and senators used their Twitter accounts to extend the traditional “thoughts and prayers” to the scores of people who died at Pulse Nightclub when a gunman opened fire at around 2 a.m. shortly before closing time on Sunday. Many of those elected officials are known to have previously accepted money from the National Rifle Association, a prominent gun rights group, to vote against gun-control measures in their states.

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Users responded with finger-pointing and often abusive messages when Senate majority leader Republican Mitch McConnell tweeted his condolences. As of December 2015, McConnell had received almost $1.3 million in direct support from the NRA, as well as from independent expenditures supporting him, and independent expenditures opposing his opponents, according to an analysis of data from the Center of Responsive Politics by Mic. In 2014, the NRA awarded McConnell an A+ rating, the highest possible rating, for voting against gun control legislation. “We need more than prayers. Stop taking the NRA’s money, Mitch,” one user replied to a tweet containing McConnell’s statement on the massacre.

Senator Thom Tillis from North Carolina, who has received the lion’s share of NRA funding—over $4.4 million over the course of his career—was met with similar backlash when he tweeted his own message of prayer. Tillis also earned an A+ rating from the NRA in 2014. “How many mass shootings will it take until you decide my children deserve a better America. Your false prayers aren’t helping,” tweeted one user in response. Igor Volsky, deputy director of the left-leaning Center for American Progress, responded to such messages of support by citing the amount of money received by each member of government from the NRA.

Other Twitter users condemned the shooting by citing the controversial bathroom bill, a North Carolina law that prohibits transgender individuals from using public bathrooms that do not match their gender at birth. “When you sensationalize LGBT people as subhuman bathroom perverts, you are telling the murders [sic] of the world that their lives don’t matter,” one user tweeted. Another said: “Straight people worry about sharing a bathroom. Queer people worry about being murdered for existing.”