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National Rifle Association

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Using a dying eagle and a flag as tinder wood for the guns since 1871.
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I do not believe in the general promiscuous toting of guns. I think it should be sharply restricted and only under licenses.
—Karl Frederick, NRA President, 1934[1][2]
The NRA is a marketing organization, and its flagship product is fear.
Michael Bloomberg[3]

The National Rifle Association (NRA) is an American corporate shill political action group that has sold more guns than Sam Colt and Bill Ruger.[4] It originally functioned (until the 1977 Revolt on Cincinnati)[5] as a relatively moderate organization,[6] sometimes said to focus on rifle marksmanship and not even mentioning the Second Amendment or gun laws (although the latter has been disputed).[7] The History News Network has stated that once, as early as the 1930s, they basically concern-trolled about "bad" and "unreasonable" gun laws while presenting themselves as supporters of "reasonable" firearms controls and fear mongering about the "attempted dictation of anti-gun cranks and pacifists who are 'out to outlaw firearms'", thus watering down much proposed gun legislation.[8][9] But... the NRA no longer represents hunters and collectors, having been taken over by investment groups which own large percentages of most firearms/ammo companies.[10][11] Not surprisingly, it promotes ownership of guns in America at all costs (as long as the industry receives your costs, of course), and has a knee-jerk reaction against the mildest proposals for gun-control legislation, or even against the enforcement of existing gun laws.

They are not known for teaching their members how to properly debate (shout at) proponents of increased gun control, and as a result, most NRA members resort to clichés such as "guns don't kill people, people kill people", "the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy/woman/toddler(?)[12][13] with a gun",[note 1] and other empty platitudes. Their ultimate goal is to bring about a world where it's socially acceptable to be armed at all times,[15][16] and if a "citizen" circling your neighborhood with a boomstick makes you uncomfortable, you're a cuck who hates freedom.[17] (Of course, if it was a good black guy doing the same thing with the same motive, the situation would be handled much differently.)[18] Achieving a world where everyone is armed at all times is to have everyone buy guns, hence the NRA pushes hard for unrestricted gun-ownership.

Responses to shootings[edit]

After the Sandy Hook massacre, which claimed 20 children as victims, the NRA finally shut up...for a few days. Many naively hoped they had finally come to their senses, but the group used their next meeting to call for more guns to stop gun violence, and blamed the massacre on everything but guns, including mental illness, movies and violent video games. While clamoring for a national mental health database, they naturally recoil at the thought of a gun registry, and to ddate, their National Firearms Museum (which glorifies violent movies) is still open for business.[19] Their response to the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting was similar, although afterwards they faced companies who were severing ties with them, as well as a more unified protest by survivors of the shooting and gun control advocates.[20] The NRA has enlisted the aid of Wolfgang Halbig, a conspiracy theorist who claimed that the Sandy Hook massacre was a hoax.[21]

The NRA also has a 500+ entry-long list of people and organizations who have lent support to anti-gun initiatives.[22] With luminary freedom haters such as the American Medical Association, PBS and Hallmark, and notorious anti-gun celebrities like... Sylvester Stallone, it's probably easier to say who's not on this list. Nixon at least tried to keep his list of enemies secret.

Single-issue voters[edit]

As seen during both terms of the Obama administration, "No new laws" somehow means "future gun control laws" for the NRA. This despite the fact that the related constitutional amendment purportedly allowing gun ownership does not explicitly define what "arms" are. (Suitcase nukes, anyone?) This contrasts with their stance during the Clinton years, when they advocated more vigorous enforcement of existing gun laws as an alternative to passing new ones.

Board member eyebrow-raisers[edit]

Wayne LaPierre in 2017
If you pull down the exhibit hall, that's not going to leave anything for the media except the members meeting, and you're going to have the wackos … with all kinds of crazy resolutions, with all kinds of, of dressing like a bunch of hillbillies and idiots. And, and it's gonna, it's gonna be the worst thing you can imagine.
—What an NRA board members think of their core membership[23]

The NRA has an insanely large board of directors (76 members!), and has included many questionable people on it, such as noted traitor Oliver North, a spokesman for gun manufacturer Glock (supporting accusations of the NRA having too-close ties to gun manufacturers), the perpetually batshit Ted Nugent, Larry Craig (of "I am not gay…" fame), and Grover Norquist (because no mainstream right-wing group is complete without a guy who really, really hates taxes).[24]

The NRA's main talking head is Wayne LaPierre, a perennial member/vice president prone to conspiracy theory, groupthink and pulling bullshit out of his ass. Despite his media reputation as the "craziest man on earth", he's actually a donnish businessman, just like any other fearmonger you can think of.[25] Charlton Heston was a former president of the NRA, and was famous for his "cold dead hands" speech. Oliver North, hero of the far-right whose very name is "synonymous with corruption and disgrace", ascended to the presidency of the NRA in 2018.[26] In 2019, North was ousted as president after he was accused by executive vice president LaPierre and the NRA Board of extorting the organization; LaPierre was also accused by North of making financial transgressions.[27] Leaked documents revealed a "culture of fear" within the organization, where employees suffer with low wages and problems with the pension system while LaPierre enjoys lavish benefits and one of the highest salaries in the country for nonprofit organizations.[28] Despite being so well paid, LaPierre reportedly billed $542,000 worth of clothing, travel and other expenses to to NRA's longtime advertising agency Ackerman McQueen (who, as of 2019, is part of a lawsuit against the NRA).[29] He reportedly spent $39,000 in one day at a single Beverly Hills luxury menswear boutique.[29] That's an interesting shopping addiction he picked up while working for an organization that became based on scaring their membership into thinking the "elites" would take away their guns.[30]

Allegations of self-dealing among 18 of the board's 76 members, who are supposedly in charge of financial oversight, have also surfaced: $400,000 to one board member for outreach, $28,000 to another board member for writing articles for NRA publications, and payment for sales of ammunition to another board member for an undisclosed sum.[31] The acrimony between NRA board members resulted in the organization severing ties with Ackerman McQueen, who operates the NRA's media outlet NRATV.[32]

In August 2020, after analyzing the finances of the charity, the state of New York (where the NRA was incorporated) actually had enough of NRA's financial bullshit to sue to completely dissolve it in its entirety due to the widespread abuse of charity money, and asked LaPierre and other current and former executives to personally pay back unlawful profits.[33] In the court document,[34] LaPierre was accused of massively misusing NRA charity funds to illegally grift insiders and select vendors, and to also fund at least eight personal family vacations to the Bahamas, along with various other big game safaris and other private travel. Along with other executives, he used a "pass-through arrangement to conceal private travel and other costs that were largely personal in nature", thus "exposing the NRA to millions of dollars of potential liability for violation of IRS reporting requirements". LaPierre and other executives also failed to report to the IRS and/or miscategorized many other personal or out of pocket expenses, such as the lavish Christmas gifts he would often give senior executives every year.[34] Washington, D.C.'s attorney general followed this up by suing the NRA Foundation and the NRA for misusing charitable funds to support wasteful spending by the NRA and its executives.[35]

The NRA's legal troubles have cost the organization $100 million. In reaction, LaPierre whined about "the power of weaponized government" and compared investigators to commies.[36] Citing a "corrupt political and regulatory environment" in New York, they filed for bankruptcy on January 15, 2021, and high tailed it for Texas.[37]

Exaggerated political power[edit]

NRA membership figures or random number generator?

The NRA has long been viewed as a mighty Goliath in American politics;[38][39] politicians feared their piles of lobbying money and the wrath of their four million-strong membership base. However, in the aftermath of the Aurora and Sandy Hook massacres, their self-proclaimed political influence and membership figures have fallen under scrutiny.

While the NRA claims to be able to elect politicians they support between 71% and 86% of the time,[40] third parties have pegged their success rate at a hilariously abysmal 0.83%.[41] The NRA's membership figures are also suspect, as they usually claim about 4 million members, but reports from insiders (as well as outsiders reading between the lines) suggest that these numbers are greatly inflated. The NRA has a very loose definition of "membership" that includes gun purchasers automatically enrolled as a promotional gimmick, as well as subscribers to their magazines and long-dead members. The best guess as to their true size is at most 3.1 million.[42]

On top of this, the NRA is suffering internal strife, with a large disconnect between what its official leadership wants (it being far too cozy with the gun industry) and its own membership base.[43][44] As a result, not only is it spending its lobbying money ineffectually, but it can no longer even count on its own members to vote in support of its policies.[45]

In the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, the NRA has suffered from significant pushback. The amount of money it had donated to Florida lawmakers was brought to media attention and fell under heavy scrutiny. Then-Governor Rick Scott, who had been revealed to be in their pockets for some time, did not help matters. When asked for a statement following the shooting, he said that the time for a conversation about gun control was in the future; when asked about perpetrator Nikolas Cruz's ease in obtaining a weapon, he dodged the question and said an investigation was underway.[46] Surprising no one and unmatched in tastelessness, the NRA retaliated against the student activists who survived the shooting after they held a town hall against Republican lawmakers, claiming the students wanted more restrictions on law-abiding gun owners.[47] As a result of these skeletons in their closets and their feeble attempts to brush it all under the rug, numerous corporate sponsors announced that they would sever ties with the NRA, who, true to form, spat out the same drivel about how their law-abiding members were not at fault, criticizing everything from the police to the number of doors on the building to even the school's preparedness in handling a school shooting, but refusing to acknowledge the role of guns in the massacre.[48]

Activities that aren't (too) political[edit]

The NRA supports firearms education for both children and adults, and occasionally makes contributions to the Boy Scouts of America and other organizations.[49] Despite their highly politicized nature, their education programs are usually sound in both concept and execution, and generally do a good job teaching the fundamentals and importance of firearms safety. This, of course, does fuckall to reduce the proportion of gun crime.[50][51][52][53]

Godless leftists[edit]

In response to the "left" pointing out that prayer and belief in a deity wouldn't solve mass shootings, the NRA tried to expose the "godless left" by stating, "These saboteurs share the same fanatical fervor to tear apart the foundations of America as the terrorists who threaten our very survival. And together, they march hand-in-hand toward the possible, purposeful destruction of us all." They even went as far as to call certain "leftist" media "false prophets" and "infidels of freedom", along with several similar claims about the "left" and their so-called attacks on American values.[54]

Национальная Стрелковая Ассоциация: From Russia with love[edit]

Torshin in 2013

The FBI has been investigating whether Russia illegally funneled money through the NRA to help Trump get elected.[55] Specifically, Alexander TorshinWikipedia (Алекса́ндр Порфи́рьевич То́ршин) and Maria ButinaWikipedia (Мария Бутина), the only two people from the Russian Federation that are lifetime members of the NRA, were being investigated.[55][56][57]

On July 15, 2018, Butina was charged with "conspiracy to act as an agent of the Russian Federation, and was ordered held without bond."[58] At her detention hearing, the FBI alleged that Butina had extensive contacts with the Russian FSB spy agency, and that she exchanged sex for business (presumably espionage) purposes, including an ongoing relationship with a Republican operative.[59] In 2019, she was sentenced to 18 months in prison.[60] In 2021, Butina was rewarded with membership in the Russian Duma for her services to the nation.

Torshin is a former Russian senator and longtime ally of Vladimir Putin, and has been accused of having ties to Russian organized crime.[56][61] Torshin is currently the deputy governor of the Central Bank of Russia.[56] Torshin attempted to meet with Trump Sr. and met with Trump Jr. at an NRA event.[56]

Things the NRA and their supporters blame gun violence on[edit]

Racism[edit]

In spite of their rhetoric of firearms support when it concerns white people, the NRA is pretty enthusiastic about taking away firearms from black people. From historic events, such as supporting the Mulford ActWikipedia (for no other reason than to take away guns from the Black Panther Party) all up to the present day, where they campaign by using the Black Lives Matter movement as an argument for the legality of firearms.[76]

In summary[edit]

Frank: Ooh, shit, I'm not going to go [to the rally]. It's going to be a bunch of nuts with guns. Too dangerous.

Charlie: Wait, hold on a second. What's going on? I thought you were into guns. You know, why have you been on TV talking about all that shit?

Frank: I bought a stake in Gunther's Guns. I got everybody angry and scared. They bought the guns, I made a fortune.

Dennis: Oh my god, this is crazy. So you don't give a shit about the gun issue at all? You're like the NRA!

Frank: Yeah, little tiny bit.
It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, "Gun Fever Too: Still Hot"

See also[edit]

Icon fun.svg For those of you in the mood, RationalWiki has a fun article about NRA.

External links[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. An example of the failure of the "good guy with a gun platitude" is the case of police killing good guy Jemel Roberson, an armed security-guard in November 2018. Police don't always know who the good guy with a gun is.[14]

References[edit]

  1. The NRA's president supported "sharply restricting” guns in 1934. Then its members revolted. by Andrew Prokop on August 27, 2015, 4:13 p.m. ET Vox.
  2. The Evolution of the NRA's Defense of Guns: A Brief History of the NRA's Involvement in Legislative Discussions By Cory Bennett (December 21, 2012) National Journal.
  3. "How to Break NRA’s Grip on Politics", Bloomberg
  4. Well, people frantically screaming that Obummer is "coming for your guns, any minute now!" for the past 8 years did more towards that end than anything the NRA did. They ought to be thanking him.
  5. "NRA took hard right after leadership coup", San Francisco Chronicle.
  6. “How NRA's true believers converted a marksmanship group into a mighty gun lobby.”, The Washington Post.
  7. "How A-Political Was the National Rifle Association Before The Cincinnati Revolt of 1977?", Gun Culture 2.0.
  8. In this, they followed in the footsteps of an early gun-rights group called the United States Revolver Association (USRA), which opposed the pioneering New York State Sullivan ActWikipedia using much the same tactics as today's NRA; later in 1932, both the NRA and the USRA united to repeal and replace that act (this was vetoed by then-Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt) and, after this, the NRA would commandeer the gun rights movement as its own.
  9. "How Long Has the NRA Been Fighting Gun Control?, History News Network.
  10. "The Money Powering the NRA", CNN.
  11. "How The Gun Industry Funnels Tens Of Millions Of Dollars To The NRA", Business Insider.
  12. West, Lindy, "Wayne LaPierre Needs to Stop Pretending He Gives a Shit About Rape Victims", Jezebel.
  13. Bill Hutchinson and Daniel Beekman, "http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/kidding-nra-pushes-guns-kids-young-newtown-victims-sick-youth-day-article-1.1335901 "NRA pushes guns on kids as young as Newtown victims in sick 'Youth Day'", NY Daily news 5.5.13.
  14. 'They basically saw a black man with a gun': Police kill armed guard while responding to call by Mark Guarino, Alex Horton and Michael Brice-Saddler (November 12, 2018 at 9:31 PM) The Washington Post.
  15. McCarthy, Clara, "Concealed Carry Is Now Legal in All 50 States, and the NRA Doesn’t Want Us to Know What That Really Means", Salon 7.11.13.
  16. Montopoli, Brian, "NRA's Wayne LaPierre: "Government Policies Are Getting us Killed"", CBS 2.10.11.
  17. Friedman, Dan, "NRA’s Wayne LaPierre tells supporters guns and contributions can protect them from murderers and Michael Bloomberg", NY Daily News 4.25.14.
  18. Winkler, Adam, "Gun Control Is "Racist"? The NRA would know, New Republic 2.4.13.
  19. NRA Slams Violent Pop Culture, Even as it Puts on ‘Hollywood Guns’ Exhibit, ThinkProgress
  20. Caplan, D.; Rand, B. (February 24, 2018). More companies sever ties with NRA, now include United, Delta, Hertz and MetLife. ABC News. Retrieved February 24, 2018.
  21. NRA safety officer enlisted a Sandy Hook truther to sow doubt about Parkland shooting, emails show by Isaac Stanley-Becker (March 28, 2019 at 6:38 AM) The Washington Post.
  22. NRA's enemies list: Most of America, CNN
  23. A secret tape made after Columbine shows the NRA's evolution on school shootings by Tim Mak (November 9, 20215:00 AM ET) NPR.
  24. Meet the NRA's Board of Directors, Mother Jones
  25. Blanc, Nancy, "Wayne LaPierre Wasn't Always A Crazy Gun Nut — But When He's Reasonable, No One Listens", April 27 at 12:55 PMBloomberg 2.9.15.
  26. Eli Watkins, Oliver North to be NRA's new president. CNN, 7 May 2018.
  27. NRA ousts president Oliver North after alleged extortion scheme against chief executive by Michael Brice-Saddler (April 27, 2019 at 12:55 PM) The Washington Post.
  28. As Leaks Show Lavish NRA Spending, Former Staff Detail Poor Conditions At Nonprofit. NPR, 15 May 2019.
  29. 29.0 29.1 Some Select Items from NRA Chief Executive Wayne LaPierre's Favorite Boutique by Ashley Reese (May 13, 2019; 2:30pm) Jezebel. Original source: Wall Street Journal.
  30. The NRA is imploding. We have fancy clothes to thank for that. by E.J. Dionne Jr. (May 15, 2019 at 6:47 PM) The Washington Post.
  31. NRA money flowed to board members amid allegedly lavish spending by top officials and vendors by Beth Reinhard et al. (June 9, 2019 at 5:26 PM) The Washington Post.
  32. Danny Hakim, N.R.A. Shuts Down Production of NRATV. The New York Times, 25 June 2019.
  33. "New York Attorney General Moves To Dissolve The NRA After Fraud Investigation" by Tim Mak, NPR, 2020 August 6
  34. 34.0 34.1 "Read: New York attorney general’s lawsuit against the NRA" by Chicago Tribune Staff, 2020 August 6
  35. "AG Racine Sues NRA Foundation for Diverting Charitable Funds to Support Wasteful Spending by NRA and Its Executives", Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia, Attorney General Karl A. Racine, 2020 August 6
  36. Tim Mak, Secret Recording Reveals NRA's Legal Troubles Have Cost The Organization $100 Million. NPR, 21 April 2020.
  37. Dustin Jones, NRA Files For Bankruptcy Amid Fraud Suit In New York. NPR, 15 January 2021.
  38. "The N.R.A. has been increasingly flexing political muscle, with both Democrats and Republicans courting its favor and avoiding its wrath."The New York Times, December 21, 2012.
  39. The Gun Lobby: Why The NRA Is The Baddest Force In Politics, Huffington Post
  40. "Election Day Brings Wins For Gun Owners"
  41. Outside spenders' return on investment, Sunlight Foundation
  42. Does the NRA Really Have 4 Million Members?, Mother Jones
  43. This is not your father’s NRA, Politico
  44. Why the NRA Is Becoming the 'Great Oz', Huffington Post
  45. Americans, even NRA members, want gun reforms, CNN
  46. Here's How Much the NRA Has Given to Florida Lawmakers Time Magazine, Alana Abramson, February 19 2018, 3:08 PM
  47. Analysis: Douglas students face high NRA hurdle in gun control debate Palm Beach Post, Wayne Washington, February 23 2018, 12:02 PM
  48. NRA punches back at 'shameful' boycott by corporate sponsors Gabby Morrongiello, February 24 2018, 5:58 PM
  49. "NRA & BSA—100 Years of Partnership"
  50. If you trust the evil UN!
  51. Or those crazy Canucks!
  52. Or the National Institute of Justice!
  53. Or a shockingly-well cited Wikipedia!Wikipedia
  54. https://www.nranews.com/series/commentators/video/commentators-the-godless-left/episode/commentators-season-5-episode-17-the-godless-left
  55. 55.0 55.1 FBI investigating whether Russian money went to NRA to help Trump by Peter Stone & Greg Gordon (January 18, 2018 05:00 AM) McClatchey DC Bureau.
  56. 56.0 56.1 56.2 56.3 The Very Strange Case of Two Russian Gun Lovers, the NRA, and Donald Trump: Here's what we uncovered about an odd pair from Moscow who courted the Trump campaign. by Denise Clifton & Mark Follman (Mar. 8, 2018 6:00 AM) Mother Jones.
  57. Сегодня в NRA (США) мне известны всего 2,человека из РФ со статусом "life member": Мария Бутина и я. C чем я её и поздравляю!) by А.П. Торшин (11:30 PM - 9 Nov 2016) Twitter.
  58. Maria Butina, Russian gun rights advocate, charged in U.S. with acting as Russian Federation agent by Tom Jackman & Rosalind S. Helderman (July 16, 2018 at 3:28 PM) The Washington Post.
  59. Alleged Russian agent Maria Butina had ties to Russian intelligence agency, prosecutors say by Tom Jackman & Rosalind S. Helderman (July 18, 2018 at 12:26 PM) The Washington Post.
  60. Maria Butina, Russian who conspired to infiltrate conservative U.S. political groups, sentenced to 18 months by Spencer S. Hsu & Rosalind S. Helderman (April 26, 2019 at 12:01 PM) The Washington Post.
  61. The evidence that implicates Trump’s Russian ally with organized crime: Calls from the ex-politician linked to the US president reveal links with a mafia clan in Russia by José María Irujo (3 Abr 2017 - 02:42 EDT) El País.
  62. 62.0 62.1 62.2 62.3 62.4 62.5 Santa Fe shooting: Things being blamed for the gun violence: Ritalin. Abortion. The media. And doors. by Eli Rosenberg (May 21, 2018 at 10:28 PM) The Washington Post.
  63. 63.0 63.1 All The Things The NRA Has Blamed For The Texas School Shooting Huffington Post
  64. Oliver North blames school shootings on 'culture of violence.' He was a pitchman for a violent video game. by Kyle Swenson (May 21, 2018) The Washington Post.
  65. Mass shootings again blamed on evolution, Jerry Coyne, Why Evolution Is True
  66. 66.0 66.1 66.2 Doors, backpacks and Ritalin: what Republicans have blamed school shootings on The Guardian
  67. [Liberalism’s Impact on Abhorrent Behavior] Townhall
  68. How the NRA pioneered the right-wing art of demonizing the media. Slate
  69. Lexington, (March 13, 2013). Why the NRA keeps talking about mental illness, rather than guns. The Economist. Retrieved August 5, 2019.
  70. "Guns Don't Kill People, People Do?" What exactly is wrong with the "guns don’t kill people, people do" argument? by David Kyle Johnson (Feb 12, 2013) Psychology Today.
  71. 71.0 71.1 NRA: “Guns Don’t Kill People; Mentally Unstable Loners With Unfettered Access to Guns Kill People” (Feb 22, 2018) Blue Rock Public Radio.
  72. Pornography is a ‘root cause’ of school shootings, Republican congresswoman says by Eli Rosenberg (May 29, 2018 at 8:37 PM) The Washington Post.
  73. The NRA Is Blaming Journalists for Gun Violence Slate
  74. Hugh Hewitt suggests schools ban trench coats after Texas shooting The Hill
  75. https://www.polygon.com/2012/12/21/3792032/nra-video-games
  76. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/black-lives-matter-nra-commercial_n_59602c67e4b0d5b458ea9e60