After the recent mass shootings in Buffalo (New York) and Uvalde (Texas), there has been an increase in calls for new gun control laws. While the majority of congressional Republicans are still opposed to gun lobby measures, Democrats are almost unanimously calling for the passage new laws. However, one of the most powerful Democrats in Congress is simultaneously maintaining a tie to a top firearms industry lobbying group, helping to bolster its image among the nation’s elites.
Steny Hogue, D-Md. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, House Majority Leader (D-Md.) is currently the honorary chair of the Jefferson Islands Club. This invitation-only social club was founded in 1930s by Democratic senators and charter members included Franklin D. Roosevelt and executives from major corporations like Chase National Bank or General Electric. The club owns Saint Catherine Island, a 50-acre island in the lower Potomac River and has a mission “to support a Club House with suitable surroundings and comforts where members may assemble, discuss and promote Jeffersonian philosophies.” The island, which features a nine-bedroom mid-century retreat, is open for its members from April to December and hosts several annual events, including a spring oyster and wild game reception, and a mid- to late-July crab feast. The club’s skeet shooting range is open during all of its events and it maintains several duck-hunting blinds.
Only new members can apply for membership the endorsement of three members in good standingThe club does not publish its membership list. A 1994 article by The Washington Post said the club’s membership was composed of lawyers, lobbyists, and trade association executives.
Since 2017, the National Sports Shooting Foundation has been one of only two or three annual NSSFs. Jefferson sponsors, the club’s highest sponsorship level. The NSSF the biggest gun rights federal lobbying spender in the country, and its board members include representatives of gun companies such as Smith & Wesson, Beretta, Glock, and Daniel Defense, the maker of the AR 15-style rifle that was used by the mass shooter in Uvalde. According to tax filings, the NSSF donates $10,000 annually to the club.
The NSSF is not just a supporter and protector of sport shooting, as its name suggests. It presses Congress on a range of gun policy issues that are crucial to the profits of its member businesses, including opposing enhanced regulations. online gun sales and closing the so-called “gun show loophole” that allows private individuals to sell guns without running background checks on their buyers. The NSSF opposes states requiring gun buyers to buy guns government permitsProposals to ban high-capacity magazines. The organization also works to reduce the public perception that AR-15 style rifles, such as those that have often been used in mass shootings, are “assault weapons” that should be banned along with machine guns. The group arguesThe semi-automatic AR-15 style rifles look like military firearms and are mischaracterised as assault weapons.
Hoyer cosponsors some of the most popular Democratic gun control legislation, including the Assault Weapons Ban of 2021The Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2021. The House Democrats have scheduled a Judiciary Committee meetup for Thursday. Protecting Our Kids ActA new bill from Rep. Jerrold N.Y., that combines several gun control measures. It would raise minimum firearm purchase age from 18-21 and ban bump stocks. Bump stocks allow semi-automatic rifles to be shot quickly.
Hoyer’s office and the NSSF did not respond to a request for comment.