National Rifle Association

The National Rifle Association is a gun owners’ organization that wields considerable lobbying influence in Washington and in state legislatures. The group also relies significantly upon corporate donors (primarily gun makers) for contributions. According to the Atlantic, it collected “as much as $38.9 million” from the firearms industry between 2005 and 2011.[1]

The NRA has publicly opposed measures such as the assault weapons ban as well as milder initiatives, such as universal background checks for gun purchasers. This held true even in the aftermath of the Newtown murder spree of 2012, when a Republican pollster found that 74% of NRA members favored universal background checks.[2] The NRA has succeeded in blocking such measures at the federal level even in the aftermath of such massacres.

While the NRA is ostensibly non-partisan, it has almost exclusively supported Republicans in recent years. In 2014, the NRA disbursed $15.5 million in independent expenditures; just over $100,000 of that money went to support Democrats.[3] Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR), who joined the NRA in opposing universal background checks in 2013, nonetheless saw the group support his opponent with $1.4 million of ads in 2014.[4]

In 2015, the independent watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed complaints with the FEC and the IRS noting that, while the NRA had disclosed $33.5 million in political activity to the FEC between 2008 and 2013, its tax returns claimed that it had not made any such spending in those years.[5] Additionally, donations intended for the NRA’s lobbying arm were reportedly routed to its political action committee, which would also violate federal law.[6]

[1]Whom Does the NRA Really Speak For?” Jordan Weissman, The Atlantic, 12/18/12

[2]Inside the Power of the N.R.A.” Robert Draper, The New York Times Magazine, 12/12/13

[3]National Rifle Association – Independent Expenditures – 2014 Cycle.” The Center for Responsible Politics, accessed 9/25/15.

[4]NRA goes big in key 2014 races.” James Hohmann, Politico, 9/17/14

[5]CREW Calls on IRS and FEC to Scrutinize National Rifle Association Over Financial Irregularities.” Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, 6/9/15

[6]CREW Calls on IRS and FEC to Scrutinize National Rifle Association Over Financial Irregularities.” Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, 6/9/15