While the National Rifle Association (NRA) has claimed that membership surged in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre in December, there did not appear to be any corresponding flood in contributions to the organization's political action committtee.
During the last weeks of December following the shooting that left 20 children and six adults dead, the NRA Political Victory Fund reported collecting just over $4,000 in itemized donations from individuals, mostly in low amounts from people who had already contributed to the group's warchest during the course of the year. Another $9,600 came in small contributions that don't have to be itemized and therefore cannot be placed by date. To put this in perspective, the PAC reported collecting $9.3 million during 2012, an average of about $774,000 per month. A financial report filed Thursday with the Federal Election Commission covered the last four weeks of the year; the Sandy Hook shootings took place Dec. 14.
The incident did not lead to a flow of funds into the PAC of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence–it reported no donations over the same period. The NRA's political operations typically draw more donations than those of its opponent.
The NRA reported spending $11.1 million during 2012 on independent expenditures and $767,500 on direct contributions to candidates, not much of a change from its previous, post-election report. While a substantial amount of money, it does not compare to large super PACs such as American Crossroads, which reported spending more than $100 million. The NRA garnered a low "return on investment," of .83 percent going to winning candidates, according to previous calculations by the Sunlight Foundation. Much of the group's money went to the losing side of hotly contested Senate races, such as the Virginia open seat race where Democrat Tim Kaine emerged the winner.
Over the last part of the year, the NRA PAC reporting making several contributions to help retire the debt of candidates, including $1,000 apiece for Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa. and Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla, and several candidates who ran for state-level office in Texas.
Meanwhile, the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action, the lobbying arm of the gun rights group, reported spending $6.6 million on independent expenditures and $477,233 on "communications costs," or messages tailored to members, over the last part of the year. The group is not required to report contributors.