About that NRA Lobby you hate…

NRA political contributions - the lobby isn't what you think
| August 9, 2019
Categories: Op-Eds

For those who continue to parrot talking points about how politicians are being “controlled by the NRA,” allow me to disabuse you of this uninformed, idiotic viewpoint.

First, it’s important to point out that the NRA [National Rifle Association] does not represent the gun industry; it represents gun owners. It does not lobby on behalf of the gun industry. In fact, it frequently acts to the detriment of the gun industry.

The organization that lobbies on behalf of the gun industry (i.e. gun manufacturers, accessories, trainers, etc) is the NSSF — not the NRA. [The NSSF is the National Shooting Sports Foundation.]

The NSSF (National Shooting Sports Foundation) is the lobby for gun manufacturers

Here are a few facts to consider:

Total lobbying expenditures in 2018 by the NRA were just over 5 million dollars.

Total lobbying expenditures in 2018 by the NSSF were just under 4 million dollars.

Neither of these figures even breaks the top 50 in a list of biggest lobbying spenders in Congress.

NRA political contributions - the lobby isn't what you think

As a matter of fact, the NRA would have to increase their lobbying budget by nearly 50% just to have a shot at 50th place. Meanwhile, nobody accuses the president of being “controlled by” Verizon, a company that spends double what the NRA does. Nobody accuses the president of “selling out” to FedEx, which spends three times (3X) what the NSSF does on lobbying. Not surprisingly, the lobbying group that represents the media outlets feeding you gullible people this narrative about the big, bad gun lobby that holds Congress hostage? It spends four times (4X) what the gun industry spends.

To really drive my point home, the National Association of Realtors spent nearly $65 million on lobbying, or thirteen times (13X) what the NRA spends, and nobody appears to have the slightest issue with that. But then they turn around and regurgitate a narrative describing how the NRA has “bought and paid for” its political influence.

The gun industry’s lobbying money doesn’t even count as lunch money in DC. If your favorite gun control bill isn’t being passed, it’s certainly not because the gun industry has “bought” any meaningful influence.

Neither by the NRA nor the NSSF.

The NSSF (National Shooting Sports Foundation) is the lobby for gun manufacturers

By way of comparison, contrast the spending and influence of the gun industry with that of the insurance industry, and all of a sudden, it becomes very clear that the ACA [Affordable Care Act] was basically written by insurance companies to benefit themselves. The best the gun industry has ever been able to do is occasionally make proposed gun-control bills slightly less violative of Constitutionally protected rights.


Michael Goerlich of Raven Concealment


From the editor:

You can read up on Gun Rights vs. Gun Control spending on OpenSecrets.org.

Don’t like the NRA but want to fight gun control efforts? Check out the Firearms Policy Coalition.

But first, read this.

Firearms Policy Coalition

As far as the so-called “red flag laws” people are talking about, consider the fact that Connecticut had a red flag law prior to the mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Even the ACLU says, “the categories of people that federal law currently prohibits from possessing or purchasing a gun are overbroad, not reasonably related to the state’s interest in public safety, and raise significant equal protection and due process concerns.”

And that’s before any executive orders creating what amounts to a Fairness Doctrine for the internet.

This isn’t to say we shouldn’t be taking mental illness into account in an effort to save lives — but throwing together some slapdash hopefully-it’ll-work legislation isn’t the answer. Not least because it’d could (and would) violate the rights of completely innocent people. And, like many gun-related laws already on the books, there are red flag measures already in place that probably wouldn’t work even if they were enforced properly.


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  1. Jim Hummer

    I’m curious to understand why the article limits itself to lobbying budget, but doesn’t address the $29 million in “outside expenses” donated to the NRA Victory Fund and NRA PAC in the 2020 election.

    Your whole argument falls apart once we realize you deliberately left $29M out of your calculus.

    All you have to do is look at the lifetime contributions of NRA money to Senators like Romney ($13M), and Blunt ($4.5M) to see that the NRA has contributed hundreds of millions to candidates over the last two decades. They just don’t call it, or account for it as, lobbying because there are laws governing what you can do as a lobbyist, and political contributions are protected (for now) under Citizens United.

  2. Jeremy Kieler

    Excellent Write up, but I don’t see the NRA fighting to get rid of the NFA, which is highly unconstitional.
    I am the founder of http://www.KielerMilitiaSupply.com and Life Member of the Gun Owners of America. I am also still a member of the NRA. There is no question that the NRA has done a lot over the years, but I don’t believe there should be any infringement on the 2nd Amendment. We need stronger tougher leadership at the NRA, because gun owners like myself are fed up.

  3. Fred Brown

    I must agree with Lee! Movie makers are (pardon the pun) up in arms over the recent mass shootings, but still depict ALL their firearms as full auto, hold the trigger til’ you’re out of ammo assault weapons, and rake in millions of $$$ off of them. Regardless of the fact one needs a special federal license to possess anything other than a one trigger pull, one shot firearm, anti-gun zealots are portraying the average gun owner as having a locker full of fully automatic weapons at their beck and call! In my home state of Maryland, one cannot even own a replica, semi-auto Tommy gun because it is classified as an “assault style firearm”! What kind of BS is that?

  4. Frank Karl

    I don’t hate the NRA. But it doesn’t seem to need a little house cleaning. Some of the salaries and housing cost seem to be out of control. Many of my associates believe they have been dropped from the NRA Instructor rolls because they signed anti-LaPierre petition. Few companies would allow one person to fill the role of CEO and Executive VP by the same person, too much inbreeding and power in one person. Still, the NRA is the only effective voice gun owners have. As you report, other lobbyist outspend the NRA and our only real power is our vote. And that’s a power that many politicians seem to doing everything they can to dilute.

    We many dislike portions of it, but unless gun owners can produce a better, larger, more connected lobby group, I say we need to support the NRA. Join and you can vote to change our leaders.
    Yes, I am the NRA


    I’ve wondered for quite awhile why the gun industry and law abiding gun owners haven’t filed a class action lawsuit against Hollywood film makers and actors that are antigun for using the guns they want banned in their movies to depict and teach people it’s ok to shoot and kill people while they are making millions. These movies and video games that depict the use of firearms as a weapon of destruction is offensive to me since I use mine target shooting and hunting and I pray I never have to use it for self defense. If they can sue a chemical company for causing cancer and win without rock solid evidence that glyphosphate causes cancer… So directly or indirectly these movies and games are affecting the people that watch or play them. So now instead of a game it’s real life.


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