The NRA Bet Big in 2020 on Keeping President Trump in the White House –– And Lost
The NRA Now Limps into the New Administration with Plummeting Membership Revenue, Rampant Financial Woes, and Seemingly Countless Lawsuits
NEW YORK –– Today, Everytown and its grassroots networks, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, released the following statements on the NRA’s big losing bet on President Donald Trump in 2020.Below is an analysis of what this loss could mean for the future of the NRA, which appears to be losing members and is already mired in immense legal and financial turmoil.
“The NRA lost the election, and that means the American people won,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “For the past four years, we’ve seen what happens when the NRA and its allies pull the strings in the White House: gun violence rages unchecked. But voters ended the NRA’s control over the Presidency on Election Day, and we’re all safer for it.”
“The NRA invested tens of millions of dollars in President Trump and has nothing to show for it,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “Their only return on investment is four years of unabated gun deaths and violent devastation. The NRA’s membership revenue is plummeting, its legal fees are skyrocketing, and its CEO is under investigation. In this new era, Wayne LaPierre may go from leading a special interest to being a person of interest.”
Below is an analysis of how the NRA fared in 2020 and where the organization stands heading into 2021.
- The NRA’s big bet on President Trump was a bust: During the 2020 election cycle, nearly 60% of the NRA’s electoral spending was devoted to reelecting President Trump –– which turned out to be a very bad investment. Overall, the NRA appears to have spent roughly $30 million in this cycle, which is approximately half of what it spent in 2016.
- The NRA no longer dictates the actions of the White House: For the past four years, the NRA has had a direct line to President Trump and his administration –– making us all less safe. Specifically, President Trump pledged action on gun safety after the Parkland shooting in 2018 and the Dayton and El Paso mass shootings in 2019, then broke those promises after a “late-night Oval Office meeting with NRA officials” and a call from NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre. But now, President Trump is soon to be out of power, and the NRA is soon to join him.
- The NRA’s corrosive impact on the federal agencies will come to an end. The destructive relationship between the NRA and President Trump bled into the rest of his administration, with President Trump appointing gun extremists to cabinet positions, allowing the NRA to help write ATF white paper recommending weakening gun safety recommendations, letting the NRA dictate harmful decisions about public land and wildlife policy, and empowering a former gun industry lobbyist to endanger U.S. troops by lifting ban on overseas silencer sales. But now, with President-elect Biden taking over the administration, federal agencies will be able to do the work of preventing gun violence rather than the bidding of the gun lobby.
- NRA membership revenue is plummeting, contributing to financial woes: In October, leaked documents showed that “membership dues to the NRA fell more than $57 million—or 33 percent—between 2018 and 2019,” which strongly suggests that membership has dropped. Earlier this year, the NRA reportedly laid off or furloughed over 200 employees due to financial struggles, and Wayne LaPierre was caught on tape saying that the NRA suffered “about a $100 million hit” in 2018 and 2019, and that he he took “about $80 million” out of the budget for the NRA to “survive.” Additionally, documents show that the NRA has run a deficit for four straight years.
- The NRA is mired in immense legal turmoil: Earlier this year, New York Attorney General Letitia James filed suit seeking to dissolve the NRA for allegedly violating New York charities law. On the same day, DC Attorney General Karl Racine sued the NRA for allegedly exerting undue influence over the NRA Foundation. Additionally, the NRA was recently hit with a class action lawsuit, and it was already facing charges by New York State’s Department of Financial Services, and locked in various lawsuits with former business partner Ackerman McQueen. The Trace reported allegations that, as a result of these legal troubles, the NRA paid its top lawyer an estimated “$54 million” in the last two years alone –– and leaked documents show that the line item in the NRA’s financials that accounts for legal costs rose by 41% in 2019, after a nearly 400% increase in 2018.
- The NRA’s policies are extremely unpopular: The NRA opposes background checks on all gun sales, measures to disarm domestic abusers, and federal red flag laws, all of which are immensely popular among the American people. Background checks on all gun sales, for example, are supported by 93% of American voters –– including 89% of Republicans and 87% of gun owners. Other gun safety policies enjoy similar support, meaning that the NRA is not only out of power –– it’s out of touch with American voters, too.
- President-elect Biden is the NRA’s worst nightmare: President-elect Joe Biden ran on a platform of gun safety, and he and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris constitute the strongest gun safety administration in history. Throughout the campaign, President-elect Biden touted the fact that he’s twice taken on the NRA and won –– first in 1993, when he helped pass the bill to establish our background check system, and again in 1994, when he secured the passage of a 10-year ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Moving forward, as it says on the President-elect’s website, “Joe Biden will defeat the NRA again.”
A detailed history of the NRA’s finances and litigation can be found on NRAWatch.org.