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259 Emergency Medicine Political Action Committee Contributions in 2016 and Candidate Voting History on Firearm Background Checks

      Study Objectives

      Firearm injuries are a leading cause of injurious death and traumatic ED visits in the U.S. The American College of Emergency Physicians’ (ACEP) Firearm Safety and Injury Prevention policy supports universal background checks for firearm transactions, encourages legislation that prevents high risk and prohibited individuals from obtaining firearms by any means, and calls for increased funding for research into firearm safety and injury prevention. We sought to determine the relationship between federal campaign contributions from the National Emergency Medicine Political Action Committee (NEMPAC), the largest emergency medicine political action committee, and candidates’ support of background check legislation.

      Methods

      We analyzed NEMPAC’s contributions to House and Senate races in the 2016 election cycle to determine if the candidates they funded supported legislation favoring background checks. We obtained data on campaign contributions from OpenSecrets and legislative records from Project Vote Smart. Candidate support of background check legislation was measured by: 1) voting history on Senate Amendment 4750 (SA 4750) which called for universal background checks, and 2) co-sponsorship of H.R. 1217 which aimed to extend background checks to all commercial firearm sales, strengthen state cooperation with the national criminal background check system, and authorize a commission to study mass violence. We analyzed contributions in the 2016 election cycle compared to support for background checks. We limited the analysis to incumbents up for re-election as they had a record on these two bills. We report total contributions, average contribution per candidate, compared with t-tests, and proportion of candidates supported compared with chi-square tests.

      Results

      The Senate voted 44 for and 56 against SA 4750. In 2016 NEMPAC contributed $182,000 to 37 Senate candidates. Of this, $127,500 went to 21 of 29 incumbents up for re-election; $44,500 to 6 of 8 candidates who supported SA 4750 and $83,000 to 15 of 21 candidates who opposed SA 4750 ($5,563 vs. $3,952 per candidate, Dif $1,610, P = 0.25). NEMPAC supported 75% of incumbents who voted for SA 4750 compared to 71% of those against (P = .85). 189 House representatives co-sponsored H.R. 1217. In 2016, NEMPAC contributed $942,900 to 212 House candidates overall. Of this, $853,340 went to 187 of 394 incumbents up for re-election; $227,955 to 68 of 167 candidates who co-sponsored H.R. 1217 and $625,385 to 119 of 227 candidates who did not ($1,365 vs. $2,755 per candidate, Dif -$1,390, P < 0.01). NEMPAC supported 40.7% of candidates who co-sponsored H.R. 1217 compared to 52.4% of those who did not (P =.02).

      Conclusions

      Analysis of contributions from NEMPAC to 2016 congressional candidates show that organized emergency medicine provided more total funding to incumbent candidates who did not support firearm background check legislation than to candidates in support of background check legislation. This analysis is limited as candidates’ positions on other issues of importance to ACEP and NEMPAC, such as tort reform, may be correlated with their positions on firearm legislation. Organized emergency medicine’s political contributions to 2016 congressional races were not aligned with ACEP’s policy on background checks.