Buried in a Tuesday Politico story about the National Rifle Association’s declining revenues, and possibly failing political influence, is a stunning acknowledgement that just might account for the organization’s ability to cheat the undertaker.
“Unlike the NRA’s grassroots operation,” Politico reported, “which can be mobilized to turn out voters and lobby lawmakers, Everytown relies heavily on big donors.”
The NRA’s strength has always been in its members, a truism that has oft been repeated during speeches at the organization’s annual conventions.
On the other hand, it cannot be denied nor underestimated that wealthy elitists including those who provided the lion’s share of financial support for gun control Initiative 1639 in Washington State—which the NRA is now challenging in federal court along with the Second Amendment Foundation—have weaponized their wealth to push their agenda. Less than a dozen people, including the late Paul Allen, donated most of the $5.3 million raised by the Safe Schools Safe Communities gun control group sponsoring the initiative.
According to Politico:
“Revenue at the National Rifle Association fell by $54 million in 2017, a 15 percent decline that coincided with a record number of mass shootings in the U.S. and a rise in spending by gun-control groups.
“The gun-rights group posted an even steeper drop in membership dues, which fell 22 percent, or $35 million, to a five-year low, according to documents the NRA filed with the Internal Revenue Service this month.
“The group directed $27 million to its political arm, the Institute for Legislative Action, down from 2016, a presidential election year in which the institute spent more than $76 million.”
There should be no mystery in that. With Donald Trump in the White House and Republicans controlling Capitol Hill, a lot of gun owners saw no threat to their rights, so they folded up their tents and closed their wallets. It’s a pattern that has been followed for decades.
But that could change in the aftermath of I-1639’s passage in Washington and an even more threatening anti-gun effort now underway in Florida. The Tampa Bay Times reported this week that the Miami-based “Ban Assault Weapons Now” is pushing hard to get a state constitutional amendment on the 2020 ballot to outright ban so-called “assault weapons.” And how does this measure define “assault weapons?”
Here’s the language:
“Assault Weapons – For purposes of this subsection, any semiautomatic rifle or shotgun capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition at once, either in a fixed or detachable magazine, or any other ammunition feeding device. This subsection does not apply to handguns.
“Semiautomatic – For purposes of this subsection, any weapon which fires a single projectile or a number of ball shots through a rifled or smooth bore for each single function of the trigger without further manual action required.”
Among some Evergreen State gun owners who worked against I-1639 earlier this month, there is a feeling that NRA and even the firearms industry let them down by not pouring more money into the resistance effort. That may be displaced with the SAF/NRA legal challenge, but a win at the polls could have set back gun control efforts in Washington by several years. On the other hand, the consensus is that the victory emboldens anti-gunners to reach for more all over the country.
Their analysis may be somewhat unfair, too. One Washington gun shop operator noted that some of his customers are still asserting that they didn’t even know about the measure, suggesting they may not have voted at all. That is also a pattern for which there is no easy solution.
The NRA, it was once written, fights best from behind circled wagons, and that principle extends essentially to all Second Amendment organizations. If the establishment media keeps reporting about the organization as being on the ropes, and Congressional Democrats launch their promised push for more gun restrictions, watch for the NRA and other gun groups to once again “miraculously” recover from the brink of mortality.
As Sam Clemens—aka Mark Twain—once wrote, “The report of my death was an exaggeration.”