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NRA on Defense Heading into Annual Convention: On Russia, in the States and with the American People

As the NRA convention begins this Thursday in Dallas, it’s clearer than ever that the NRA is an out-of-touch special interest group, and on the defensive: on Russia, refusing to answer questions; in the states, where gun safety legislation is passing into law; and with the American people, who are rejecting its dangerous agenda.

The NRA can’t keep its story straight on Russian money or its ties to Russia.

For more than a year, there’s been a drip, drip, drip of alarming revelations about the NRA’s connections to allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin. During that time, the NRA has tried its hardest to avoid answering any questions about it.

Last week, CNN reported that the NRA is preparing documents amid increased scrutiny into its relationships with Russian banker, politician and top Putin ally, Alexander Torshin, and his longtime aide, Maria Butina, who has reportedly claimed to have acted as a go-between between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election. Torshin, who was recently sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department, is reportedly at the center of an FBI probe into “whether Russian money went to [the] NRA to help Trump” in 2016.

Earlier this month, a new NPR report revealed that the NRA accepted contributions from more than 23 Russian-linked contributors since 2015. The admission by the NRA, made in a letter to Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), raises new questions about a previous statement from the NRA on March 19, which stated that the NRA took no contributions from Russian individuals or entities during the 2015-2016 period.

Now, the NRA says it is done answering questions about Russia. The NRA should do itself a favor and tell the full truth, explain its relationships with Putin’s allies, and reveal exactly how much NRA money is connected to Russia.

The NRA is losing in the states as momentum shifts toward gun safety.

In states around the country, the ground is shifting on gun violence prevention. In red, blue and purple states, life-saving gun violence prevention bills are gaining momentum while the gun lobby’s priority bills languish. Momentum in the states offers some of the clearest proof yet that public sentiment on gun violence prevention is shifting, as more and more lawmakers are bucking the NRA.

In the last few weeks alone, the Republican governor of Maryland signed a package of bills that will establish a Red Flag Law in the state, keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and prohibit the sale and possession of bump stocks; Tennessee’s Republican Governor signed legislation into law that will empower local law enforcement to do more to keep guns away from people with dangerous mental illnesses; and, in Kansas, the Republican governor signed legislation to prohibit domestic abusers from having guns.

As state sessions begin to wind down, many of the gun lobby’s top priorities have been defeated. In Tennessee, the end of session last month marked defeat for a number of reckless bills, including one that would have allowed people to carry loaded handguns almost anywhere in the state, including colleges, schools and sporting events. And, the end of session in Indiana marked the defeat of dangerous bills that would have repealed the state’s handgun carry license requirement and would have allowed loaded handguns in schools.

Since the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, Everytown has seen the volunteer base for Students Demand Action grow exponentially – it now stands at more than 50,000. Students Demand Action is an initiative aimed at empowering students to lead on gun safety. In February, Everytown announced new resources for the program, including a $1-million grant program, dedicated to spurring student-driven advocacy to end gun violence. In addition, we’re coordinating policy and organizing calls to discuss state-specific action plans.

And, we’ve seen more than 170,000 new volunteers join Moms Demand Action and Everytown. More than 1,400 Moms Demand Action events have been scheduled to let lawmakers know that voters will “Throw Them Out” if they continue to fail to stand up for public safety, and we’ve seen an astounding increase in online engagement. Everytown has more than 2 million new online supporters, including more than 100,000 new grassroots donors.

At the local government level, 40 more mayors joined Mayors Against Illegal Guns, including 10 from states President Trump won in 2016.

The NRA is underwater with the American people.

With the gun violence that kills 96 Americans every day and injures hundreds more, students, gun violence survivors and every day Americans are sending a clear message to our elected leaders: Pass strong gun safety laws, or we’re going to throw you out. Americans also know who is standing in the way: the NRA, and the politicians it bankrolls.

So, the first time in almost 20 years, the NRA finds it favorability ratings underwater. The NRA is losing at the ballot box too, where its endorsed candidates are losing to gun safety advocates, even in red districts like Pennsylvania’s eighteenth congressional district.

A recent Quinnipiac poll showed that 97 percent of voters support criminal background checks on all gun sales (including 97 percent of gun owners, and 97 percent of Republicans).

Another poll from Everytown and Giffords found that gun violence prevention is the number one issue among young people who will be eligible to vote in the 2018 midterm elections.

Corporations are demonstrating corporate responsibility and taking a stand on gun policies, while also abandoning the NRA. From life insurance carriers to car rental companies and the (former) official NRA credit card company, businesses are standing up in the name of gun safety. Examples include: Bank of America, Budget, Chubb, Citigroup, Delta Airlines, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Enterprise Holdings, First National Bank of Omaha, Hertz, Simplisafe, Symantec, MetLife, United Airlines, Walmart.

The bottom line: The NRA is at its most vulnerable position in years.

No amount of sound and fury, like we’ll hear at this week’s NRA convention in Dallas, can drown out the truth: The NRA is on a losing streak, and a growing number of Americans are working to extend it to November.

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