The gun lobby has at first blush benefited from the Citizens' United ruling. The Supreme Court, by finding campaign contributions to be the equivalent of free speech, has institutionalized our system of bought government. This type of "free speech" also protects those who "speak" with anonymity, and secrecy covering up how much they contribute.
Our elected officials have been hamstrung by their allegiance to the interests of whatever financial backing put them in office. The NRA is notorious for buying the loyalty of elected officials and threatening those who refuse to play, with lost elections.
However, the Citizens' United ruling may also have had the unintended consequence of shining a light on what has all along been money's influence on Congress and the executive branch; i.e., the purchasing of favorable policy decisions by those funding election campaigns as well as the unholy continuing relationship of lobbyists and elected officials. The Citizens' United ruling has made obvious practices that secretly had been standard operating procedure, articulated until now only by activists and pundits shouting "Unfair!" Now there exists the potential for creating a groundswell of bi-partisan demand for the overthrow of buying elections and the elected.
If bullying and favoritism create a profitable policy environment for those who are already the largest contributors, where does that leave the rest of us? In the case of Aurora, we are dead, wounded, and bereaved. In the case of upside-down mortgages and credit default swaps, we are impoverished with no recourse. And so on.
The shootings in Aurora, not to mention other mass murders and school shootings in the last 15 to 20 years, have stunningly rendered visible the results of having "the best government money can buy." Despite demands for certain kinds of common-sense gun control, the gun lobby has cowed legislators with wild claims against some supposed intent to violate Second Amendment rights. Even if Second Amendment rights have been interpreted to imply that people have the right to have a handgun for self-defense and/or a rifle for hunting, this can in no way be stretched to support the actions of James Holmes's legal acquisition of an arsenal sufficient to arm a small country.
It is hoped in the aftermath of yet another gun and explosive-fueled horror, there will be sufficient will in elected government supported by the citizenry, to re-challenge the Citizens' United Supreme Court ruling in general, and gun lobbies in particular. Perhaps now we can re-claim and influence common-sense policy decisions in the name of public health and safety. Perhaps Congress will put teeth in financial regulations, food and drug safety, tax policy and environmental regulations that threaten the well-being of all but the very wealthy. California, Montana, Hawaii, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Maryland are calling for a constitutional amendment which would overturn Citizens United v. FEC (Source: nationofchange.org). Why don't we put Colorado on that list!
– Joan Shapiro, Ridgway
‘The Best Government Money Can Buy?'