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Gun Safety Took Center Stage at DNC. Will Republicans Embrace Politically Toxic NRA at RNC?

8.21.2020

Gun safety and its role in the 2020 election took center stage at the Democratic National Convention throughout the week. Gun violence prevention advocates, including Moms Demand Action volunteers and gun violence survivors DeAndra Dycus, Shenee Johnson and Maria Wright shared their personal stories, and highlighted what’s at stake in this election, why gun safety is a winning issue in 2020 and why they’ll be supporting Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris. According to a new report in the Atlantic, “This is the new normal in the Democratic Party: Moderate voters not only support gun-control legislation, but have begun to use the issue as a litmus test.”

A question headed into next week’s RNC: Will Republicans embrace the politically toxic NRA that is currently under investigation?

As the Republican National Committee finalizes next week’s speaking program for their convention, it is yet to be seen whether the NRA will be featured prominently or whether any NRA leaders, including NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre, will be part of the convention, following a lawsuit filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James. The suit against the NRA, LaPierre, and three other NRA executives seeks dissolution of the organization and includes 18 causes of action pertaining to allegations of self-dealing and corruption at the NRA. Washington D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine also sued the NRA two weeks ago for allegedly exerting undue influence over the NRA Foundation. 

Gun violence continues to kill 100 Americans a day and support for stronger gun laws is at an all-time high, but the NRA continues to block common-sense gun laws, fear-monger to increase gun sales, and incite violence and sow division. Recent reports have also noted that the NRA is “basically on life support,” with the Trump administration reportedly “aggressively reaching out to other gun groups” and the organization is mired in immense financial, legal, and internal turmoil. 

The NRA has lost consistently at the ballot box since 2017, when Virginia elected a gun sense governor in the NRA’s own background. They lost again in 2018 when voters elected a gun sense majority in the U.S. House, and again in 2019 when Virginians flipped their state General Assembly to a gun sense majority for the first time in decades. 

While the program is still being finalized, the RNC confirmed a speaking role for Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the white couple that pointed loaded firearms at peaceful protesters earlier this summer, and are now facing felony charges for unlawful use of a weapon. The RNC has yet to confirm a spot for the NRA, LaPierre or any board members. In 2016, then-NRA chief lobbyist Chris Cox had a prime speaking slot at the Republican National Convention. Cox, then considered to be LaPierre’s heir apparent, has since been ousted amid the tumult gripping the NRA.