pa href=”″The New York Times/a/p
pOn a Monday evening in early February, two months into a national debate over gun violence after the massacre at a Connecticut elementary school, representatives of the firearms industry were wining and dining lawmakers in Washington./p
pThe occasion was the “Changing of the Guard” reception and dinner for the incoming leadership of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, which counts more than 250 members in the House and Senate. Hosting the gathering was a little-known but well-connected organization, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation./p
pDespite its low profile, the foundation has close ties to members of Congress, allowing its donors, who give as much as $100,000 a year, to mix with lawmakers at shooting contests, banquets and wine tastings. The food and drink at last month’s gathering were paid for in part by the National Rifle Association and the trade group for the gun industry./p
pOver the past year, sportsmen’s caucus members have clinked glasses and puffed cigars at a “Wine, Wheels and Wildlife” fund-raiser at a North Carolina vineyard, a “Whiskies of the World” and cigar reception on Capitol Hill, and a “Stars and Stripes Shootout” in Tampa, Fla., where the top shooting awards went to a Republican congressman and a lobbyist for the N.R.A. Such events provide the firearms industry and other foundation donors with a tax-deductible means of lobbying the elected officials who shape policies important to their businesses./p
pA private charity not affiliated with the government, the foundation carries the cachet of its relationship with the sportsmen’s caucus in Congress, which it provides with research on policies affecting hunting and fishing. But while ostensibly focused on those outdoor pursuits, it also presses issues important mainly to the gun industry, which is one of its largest contributors./p
pThe foundation opposes restrictions on high-capacity ammunition magazines, a ban on military-style AR-15 rifles and the imprinting of bullets with traceable serial numbers to help solve crimes. All of those proposals have surfaced in the current legislative debate, which is expected to continue Thursday when a Senate Judiciary Committee considers a bill to curb illegal gun trafficking./p
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