152 years into its existence as a defender of Second Amendment Rights, the National Rifle Association (NRA) isn’t as formidable as it was once thought to be. Its reputation is shrinking as legislative failures pile up. Its membership numbers, and in effect its revenues, are dwindling.
A recent Newsweek story highlights notes that the size of the NRA’s membership is less than half of the 10 million CEO Wayne LaPierre projected in 2013. As of the January board meeting, the number stands at 4.3 million. The association reported a 52% decline in overall revenue in 2022, with revenues from membership dues sinking to $83.3 million, the lowest in 16 years.
And it’s been really bad. A recent report by Rolling and The Trace says that to continue to operate, the NRA has cut programs and jobs. IRS filings show a 43% drop in personnel from 912 in 2016 to just 521 in 2021. And there’s no light at the end of the tunnel — a 2022 audit reveals a $15 million hole.
These financial troubles are exacerbated by an ongoing lawsuit filed in 2020 by New York Attorney General Letitia James. The lawsuit alleges that top officials, including LaPierre, misappropriated donations for personal use, leading to a $64 million reduction in the balance sheet over three years.
Despite attempts to dismiss the lawsuit, the NRA’s legal challenges persist, including a rejected Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in Texas.
Gun safety advocates argue that the NRA’s loss of relevance is a result of its failure to offer viable solutions to address the rising concerns about gun violence.
The Gun Violence Archive reports that in 2023 alone, as of November 17, 37,787 people — including 1,244 teens and 259 children — have died from gun violence in the US. That’s an average of 118 deaths each day. There have also been 604 mass shootings in 2023.
A September 2023 Pew Research Center poll shows a shift in public opinion, with 58% of US adults supporting stricter gun control laws, and an increased perception that it is too easy to legally obtain a gun.
But even with NRA’s slow demise, it may still be too early for gun control advocates to celebrate. Data compiled by Statista shows that overall demand for firearms remains high, with 45% of US households owning at least one firearm in 2022 — the highest percentage since 2011, and eight percentage points more than it was 10 years ago when LaPierre said they were on track to grow 10 million-strong.
In the background, rival gun rights organizations, including the National Association for Gun Rights (NAGR) and The Second Amendment Foundation, are gaining prominence, just waiting for their turn at the range.
Information for this story was found via Newsweek, Rolling Stone, and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.