The lobbyists who spend more money on gun rights than the NRA
Jun 3, 2022
Episode 686

The lobbyists who spend more money on gun rights than the NRA

Plus, we'll talk about Sheryl Sandberg, crypto scams and more.

We’ve talked before about the amount of money the National Rifle Association has spent lobbying Congress for gun rights and how that’s influenced gun control politics in this country. But there’s a new gun industry group whose spending has outpaced the NRA’s, and that would be the National Shooting Sports Foundation. We’ll talk about them and their surprising connection to Kimberly’s neighborhood bar. Plus, more people are losing money to crypto scams, and a Texas teen wins the national spelling bee. C-o-n-g-r-a-t-u-l-a-t-i-o-n-s-!

Here’s everything we talked about today:

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Make Me Smart June 3, 2022 transcript


Note: Marketplace podcasts are meant to be heard, with emphasis, tone and audio elements a transcript can’t capture. Transcripts are generated using a combination of automated software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting it.


Kimberly Adams: All right. We can get going. I’ll wing it. Alright. Let’s do it.


Kai Ryssdal: Let’s do it. Everybody, I’m Kai Ryssdal. Welcome back to Make Me Smart, where we make today make sense.


Kimberly Adams: And I’m Kimberly Adams, thank you everyone for joining this Friday Economics On Tap. And it is officially my fault that we’re starting a minute late. But whether you are joining us on YouTube live stream, listening to the podcast, or in discord or wherever you may roam, welcome. Glad to have you with us and Kai, what are you drinking?


Kai Ryssdal: Well, I think for the second week out of three, I’m having a cup of coffee, in my coffee mug, because two things. I slept like garbage last night, which is what happens when your just graduating high school seniors, when he’s out till 2:30 in the morning, so there’s that.


Kimberly Adams: Was that just worry or were you out with him?


Kai Ryssdal: No. Haha.


Kimberly Adams: Serious question!


Kai Ryssdal: I was not out with him. I haven’t seen 2:30 in the morning on the staying upside in a very long time. I didn’t know graduation night is different, right? I mean, when he’s out on a Friday night with his friends and he’s home at like midnight or one o’clock, whatever. That’s all good. But high school graduation night. There’s just some parallel involved, and I was more… than usual. You know, it’s just, you know, they’re kids, right? They do stupid things. And no matter how many times you say…


Kimberly Adams: But not your kids?


Kai Ryssdal: Yes, my kids. Not this one last night, which is good, but my kids previously, yes, absolutely. Anyway, so I slept like garbage. And also to top it off, I have to drive out to the west side this afternoon to take son number two back to school. So beer would not be good right now. What about you?


Kimberly Adams: Well, as I have mentioned, I’m on the tail end of a little bit of a sinus infection slash cold slash being under the weather. So I am having that hot toddy, which is black tea with some drambuie. Which I would not drink straight, unlike you.


Kai Ryssdal: This is totally off topic. The cameras are swapped. I’m used to Kai always being on the right side. And this person drinking vodka rocks? I don’t know. I don’t know where we usually are on the YouTube. So that’s a dedicated listener slash viewer. I’ll tell you that.


Kimberly Adams: Yes. So who looks better on which side is the real question.


Kai Ryssdal: Yeah, right. I mean, do I have a side? I don’t know. Why don’t y’all tell me. All right. Should we do the news?


Kimberly Adams: Yeah, let’s do some news. Well, mine is actually related to drinking in a very strange way. So I saw this story from WBUR in Boston, about a gun lobbying group that people may not know as much about. So the National Rifle Association, the NRA gets all the attention, and the people who are not supportive of expanded gun ownership rights and gun access rights, definitely target the NRA as sort of like the bad guy in this whole dynamic. But there’s another group, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, that actually spends more than the NRA on gun lobbying. And according to WBUR, it spent $15.5 million lobbying Congress since 2019, 40% more than the NRA. And that’s based on numbers from Open Secrets. And this group is based in Newtown, Connecticut.


Kai Ryssdal: Oh, wow.


Kimberly Adams: Yes. So, that was interesting. And this story jumped out to me in particular, because last week, I went out to the bar with a girlfriend, and we’re sitting there, and there was this coaster at the bar that had a police car on it, and was like, Thank you for your service. And, you know, we thank the police and all these things. And I noticed that it had a little logo on it. NSSF. And you know, I’m a curious person. I’m like, What is NSSF? Sure enough, the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Those coasters at my neighborhood bar were paid for by the National Shooting Sports Foundation. And I asked the bartender, I said, “Where did you get these coasters?” Like, oh, somebody just came and dropped them off. And that is Washington for you. That is Washington DC for you.


Kai Ryssdal: That’s such a really good little insight right there. That’s a great little slice of lobbying and politic in life. That’s really good. Actually.


Kimberly Adams: It shows up, it shows up. I mean, because I definitely live in the neighborhood with several members of Congress who probably drink at that bar too. My other story is new numbers out from the Federal Trade Commission today about cryptocurrency scams. And you know, whether or not you believe cryptocurrency in general is a scam, in terms of people actually losing money through people actively seeking to do nefarious things to them, like on purpose trying to scam you out, and steal your money. A billion dollars. People lost a billion dollars since 2021, and mainly through bogus investment scams. But just that number. That’s a lot of money.


Kai Ryssdal: It is a lot of money. And there was a story in The Wall Street Journal a week or so ago, maybe, about regular folk who have bought into various kinds of crypto, stable coins and algorithmic stable coins, and having lost in essence, their life savings because they didn’t really understand how it works. And you can think that crypto is the future. I think crypto is the future of money in this economy. But it’s not the future tomorrow, you know. And don’t buy something you don’t understand. Don’t buy something that’s not tested. Consult your own financial advisor. But there are cautionary tales out there and you should read them before you buy. Yeah.


Kimberly Adams: I mean, it’s sort of like a casino. You know, if you’re gonna do something high risk, play with money you can afford to lose.


Kai Ryssdal: Yep. Yep.


Kimberly Adams: All right. What’s your news?


Kai Ryssdal: Okay, so I’ve got three, two of which are substantive, and one of which is very light. And in no particular order, they go like this. So John Fetterman, the six-foot-nine-inch cargo-shorts-wearing Democratic candidate for the Senate in Pennsylvania, as we know, on like election primary day, or maybe the day before, like right before it, had a stroke, we are told. And he was actually in the hospital on primary day. He has said and his doctors have said, you know, he’s gonna be okay, and we caught it and everything’s fine. He released a statement from his doctor today, his cardiologist, which blew me away, for one reason. So this guy, his name is Dr. Ramesh Chandra of Alliance Cardiology. He says and this is a quote, I first saw John in 2017, he was experiencing swelling in his feet and came in to get it checked out, and I diagnosed him with atrial fibrillation and irregular heart rhythm, along with a decreased heart pump. And then he says, I prescribed medications along with improved diet and exercise. Next sentence. I did not see him again until yesterday. John did not go to any doctor for five years and did not continue taking his medications. So look, number one, this is really politically substantive, because arguably, the balance of the Senate hangs on Pennsylvania, number one. Number two, if your insurance allows, and if you have the means, please follow your doctor’s instructions. Please take your medication, because if not, you might die. I just. He’s got a known condition, and he didn’t take his meds and he didn’t see a doctor for five years? Come on.


Kimberly Adams: But this is so not unusual. Like as a woman who dates men, y’all are terrible about this.


Kai Ryssdal: I will be the first one to admit I completely get it. But holy cow. Holy cow. Yeah. Yeah. All right. Anyway.


Kimberly Adams: My dad was like that, too. Just wouldn’t go.


Kai Ryssdal: Oh, yeah, so was mine. So was mine. And then more importantly, he would have these really serious conditions that he would eventually, because my mother dragged him, go to see the doctor. And then they wouldn’t tell me and my brother for like a year and a half. And you’re like, are you bleeping kidding me? Makes me crazy. Anyway. I don’t know why that got me, but that got me. So you have probably by now seen the news that the former head of the National Trade Council and key Trump advisor on many things economic and also increasingly later in the term many things anti-democratic, Peter Navarro, has been charged with contempt for defying a subpoena from the January 6 committee. And ordinarily this is a little about outside our bailiwick – I mean, other than we’d like to talk about democracy as positive and election integrity as a valuable aspect of life in this democracy – I just want to remind everybody that Peter Navarro is a key reason why we have tariffs up to 25% on $350 billion worth of Chinese imports to this day. Now we can talk about why the Biden administration hasn’t gotten rid of them. But Navarro is the reason why. And so that’s the marketplace I saw this story. Read it in the New York Times, read it anywhere, it’s kind of wild. He is an anti-democratic son of a gun. But before he became that, he was a key economic adviser in the White House.


Kimberly Adams: I remember when he ascended to that role, and all the discussions we had, because he wrote a book on competitiveness and China, and how we used to be so worried about China and competitiveness. And everyone was trying to predict how that was going to influence White House policy. And I don’t think any of us predicted the scale at which that was going to play out.


Kai Ryssdal: Yeah. Yeah. And look, you can Google Peter Navarro and find all kinds of weird things. But, man, he’s the reason. Anyway, so there’s that. And then finally, and this one really sort of. It blew me away this morning when I heard it, and it gave me a little lift because it was just remarkable. So the Scripps National Spelling Bee wrapped up yesterday. There was a tie at the end, and so they had what I can only describe as a spell-off. You had 90 seconds to spell as many words as you can. And remember these are like 14-year-old young people right. Listen to this little piece of tape from the eventual winner.



UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Your first word is spealbone.









Kai Ryssdal: I don’t even know what those words mean. I could not pronounce them if I saw them. She spelled them that fast. She did it for 90 seconds. She got 21 words and she wins. Her name is Harini Logan, she’s out of San Antonio, Texas. Holy cow. Right. It was amazing. Wasn’t that great?


Kimberly Adams: That was amazing.


Kai Ryssdal: I thought that was incredible. I thought that was incredible.


Kimberly Adams: I was knocked out of my second grade Spelling Bee because of FOSS.


Kai Ryssdal: Oh, I was eighth grade champion. And then I forgot what happened next because eighth grade was a long time ago, but yeah. How about that? How about that? How about that? Like she didn’t even think about it. She was like Bang Bang Bang Bang Bang. Bang Bang Bang Bang Bang. Crazy. Crazy. Anyway.


Kimberly Adams: That’s talent. That’s talent.


Kai Ryssdal: It is talent. It is talent. Let us move on, shall we?


Kimberly Adams: Let’s see how talented we are at this game, right?


Kai Ryssdal: All right! Half full half empty is the game. Drew Jostad is out. Mel Rosenberg – for those of you who joined the YouTube, she’s the one moderating the comments for us there. Mel. How are you? Welcome to the pod. Good to have you on.


Mel Rosenberg: I’m doing great. Hey Kai and Kimberly, thanks for having me. Honored to be here.


Kai Ryssdal: All right, let’s just say no pressure here, Drew got big shoes to fill.


Mel Rosenberg: I’m feeling a lot of pressure to be honest, so.


Kimberly Adams: You’ll do great.


Kai Ryssdal: All right, you know the game. Good. Okay.


Mel Rosenberg: Oh, yeah, we can just jump right in. Okay, so first topic. COVID vaccine shots for kids under five couldn’t be available as soon as June 21. Are we half full or half empty on whether it will actually happen by that date?


Kai Ryssdal: Oh.


Kimberly Adams: See, I was ready up until that last bit.


Kai Ryssdal: I didn’t see that was coming. I’m actually distressingly half empty on it actually happening by that date.


Kimberly Adams: I’m half full because now that they’ve put a date on it. I just. The rage of parents if they miss that deadline, I think they will be terrified enough of that, layered on top of the infant formula shortage, to move heaven and earth to hit that deadline. I’m gonna go half full.


Kai Ryssdal: Okay. That’s fair analysis. I’ll buy that. I disagree with it, but I’ll buy it.


Mel Rosenberg: Okay, are we half full or half empty on Sheryl Sandberg stepping down as meta COO?l


Kai Ryssdal: Man.


Kimberly Adams: Complicated legacy there. I’m gonna go, I mean half full, but the cat’s out of the bag. I mean, we were talking about this with Cecilia Kang on the tech show. This is the woman who created Google’s division for running online ads, took that knowledge over to Facebook and figured out a way to basically use all of this consumer data that people were voluntarily providing to create this monstrosity that we have today of, you know, hoovering up consumer data and spitting it back out as advertisements, and all of the bad things that come from it. And also not a huge fan of the whole Lean-In thing either. But you also cannot deny how just powerful and important she is to the internet that we have today. So half full, congrats on her upcoming wedding? I guess.


Kai Ryssdal: I totally agree. It’s really complicated. I think if she had left – so she has been there 14 years. I think the press release said yesterday – if she had left like eight years ago, I think it would be a different story on how people feel about it. But honestly, at this point, in addition to her legacy in tech that Kimberly pointed out, she has been a shield for Mark Zuckerberg, and many of the really reprehensible things that that company has done that helped Zuckerberg and Facebook get through public scrutiny. Like Sheryl Sandberg was the one who went on – just because this is what pops to mind – she’s the one who went on News Hour and made the rounds in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, right? So I think it’s…


Kimberly Adams: She’s working for Larry Summers here in Washington before she went to Silicon Valley. She knows how to play the game.


Kai Ryssdal: That’s exactly right. That’s exactly right. And that to me is… it makes her departure… there’s a little bit of good riddance and there’s a little bit of man, you did amazing work. You know, I don’t even know what to tell you. It’s really complicated. I think you’re right. Yeah. Anyway, next.


Mel Rosenberg: Okay, next up, there are interviews happening in the metaverse. Are we half full or half empty on this being our future?


Kai Ryssdal: So I spent a little while in the metaverse. We aired it on marketplace, I think on Wednesday. It’s bizarre out there. It’s not fully formed. It’s not, I think, ready for prime-time. It is absolutely the future. But I think we’re not there yet. That’s what I think.  I’m gonna go half empty as someone who… when I got my Oculus, I actually tried out, you know, the Facebook interactive space, I forget what it’s called. But it’s like where you go, and you can go to concerts and hang out with other people. And I was terrified because all of these children started coming and talking to me. And I was like, don’t talk to strangers! Yeah right? Strangers are dangerous!


Kimberly Adams: Strangers are dangerous. And like, I don’t think I’m dangerous. But children don’t, I mean, it was just so. And you’re overhearing people’s conversations. And yes, that could be a coffee shop, but I just I don’t think we have enough guardrails at this point for this to be safe for kids in particular. And also, I don’t think that we have any incentives at this point to use it in a professional setting. Because what we have, you know, the Zooms, and the Teams and all the Skypes and whatever, like it’s getting the job done. And the incremental benefits of a Metaverse as a trade off for the hassle and the learning curve? It’s not going to be there for some time to come.


Kai Ryssdal: What Kimberly said. Boom.


Mel Rosenberg: Okay, for anyone looking to go see a movie soon, there is a popcorn shortage. Are we half full or half empty?


Kai Ryssdal: Oh, I saw that. I think that’s crazy that there’s a popcorn shortage. I mean, holy cow. I’m not a popcorn guy. So truly, I have no dog in this fight.


Kimberly Adams: Like 50% of my meals are popcorn. So that’s a real problem for me. I have this thing, this like big tub with a crank on it that you put on your stove to make popcorn. It’s called a Whirly Pop and like I make my popcorn on the stove. I make popcorn like two or three times a week. I am gonna be absolutely one of those people who’s like, now we’ll go and hoard popcorn, because that is going to be a real, real problem for my emotional well being if I can’t get my supply of popcorn.


Kai Ryssdal: That’s pretty funny.


Kimberly Adams: Wait, wait. Debbie says you have great tastes in drinks but not food. Let me tell you Debbie. Popcorn with Old Bay is amazing. If you have not tried popcorn with Old Bay seasoning, then that will change your life.


Kai Ryssdal: There’s lots of love for popcorn as a meal and a perpetual snack here in the comments so I think you’re good to go.


Kimberly Adams: Yes. All right. Good stuff. Okay, someone says this popcorn shortage directly caused by Kimberly.


Kai Ryssdal: That’s right, that’s right.


Kimberly Adams: Possibly. All right, sorry. Go ahead, Mel.


Mel Rosenberg: Our final topic is up. In California bees are fish now. Are we half full or half empty?


Kai Ryssdal: Oh wow. That’s a really obscure story, Bridget Bodnar, interesting that you put that one in there.


Kimberly Adams: Bees are fish?


Kai Ryssdal: So there was a hearing and maybe even a ruling having to do with, I believe, the Endangered Species Act or something like that, in which the judge made a a legal connection – which is not to say a common sense connection but a legal connection – between bees and fish being protected and that’s as much of that story as I know.


Kimberly Adams: I know nothing of this.


Kai Ryssdal: Yeah, there you go.


Kimberly Adams: Mel, can you help?


Mel Rosenberg: Oh, I sure can. According to a California appeals court, bees are now eligible for protection as endangered or threatened “fish” under California law. The CESA, the California Endangered Species Act, basically said that a bird, mammal, fish, anphibian, reptile, or plant is an endangered species. So it’s categorizing it under fish. So look, let’s protect all living things and Lord knows that bees in this country with colony collapse and all that need protection, but it does kind of make California look like an idiot. Sorry, just saying.


Kimberly Adams: On the scale of stretching laws and legal language to suit one’s goals that we’re seeing at this particular moment in our democracy? This doesn’t even register. So I’m gonna go half full.


Kai Ryssdal: There you go. Fair enough. Holy cow. Thanks Mel!


Mel Rosenberg: Thanks all!


Kimberly Adams: Good job Mel!


Kai Ryssdal: Drew’s at risk, I’m telling you, that’s all I’m saying. Alright, we’re done for today. Next week, we’re doing the housing crisis with one Amy Scott. How it got this way? Why we can’t seem to get out of it? And more importantly, what we can do about it? Amy has been covering housing for us for a while, and she is well versed, and she will tell us things that are going to make us all smart.


Kimberly Adams: Yes, every time I talk to her, I feel like I’m learning something new and often terrifying about the housing crisis. But for now, if you have thoughts on popcorn, bees as fish, or perhaps housing, related to our upcoming Tuesday show, you can share those with us in a voice memo, or an email to Or you can leave us a voice message. We’re at 508-827-6278. That’s 508-U-B-SMART.


Kai Ryssdal: California, God bless you.


Kimberly Adams: Better than the Mississippi version.


Kai Ryssdal: Make Me Smart is produced by Marissa Cabrera. Today’s episode was engineered by Juan Carlos Torrado. The senior producer is Bridget Bodnar.


Kimberly Adams: The team behind the Friday game is Steven Byeon, Mel Rosenberg – yeah Mel! who was today’s host – and Emily Macune, with theme music written by Drew Jostad. And our Director of On Demand is Donna Tam.


Kai Ryssdal: I’m looking in the slack to see what Bridget has to say because she always has something to say. She has nothing to say.


Kimberly Adams: Oh, she wants us to make our own Make Me Smart coasters to randomly drop off at DC bars. I volunteered as tribute. I volunteer as tribute.


Kai Ryssdal: It’s not a terrible idea at all.

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The team

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