The NRA is the most vilified civil rights organization in the nation. While groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center is defaming people, and getting hit with lawsuits for it, it still has the trust of the mainstream media. Meanwhile, the NRA is doing what it said it would do, but every potential misstep is amplified as some kind of proof the organization is evil.
Now, The Trace–a media website whose sole focus seems to be combatting the NRA–is happy to report that NRA membership was down last year.
The National Rifle Association suffered a sharp decline in membership dues last year despite a historic fee hike, according to financial statements made public today. The statements, covering the NRA’s operations in 2017 and obtained by the Center for Responsive Politics, also showed a substantial decline in total revenue and a drop in the NRA’s ability to cover its debts.
The 22 percent drop in membership revenue — from $163 million in 2016 to $128 million last year — is striking given that the NRA increased its membership dues in March 2016 for the first time in decades (and then raised them a second time last summer). It also recently began claiming a membership of six million, up from “more than five million” in January 2016. The NRA offers a variety of different membership programs at different price points — one-year, three-year, lifetime, etc. — but experts contacted by The Trace were unable to explain how the group could be drawing less revenue from more members charged higher prices.
We asked Marcus Owens, a lawyer specializing in nonprofit law and a partner at Loeb and Loeb, if it looks like the NRA is shedding members. “I think that’s a reasonable explanation for the difference in the numbers,” he said.
Well, the NRA might have been “shedding members.”
This year, however, numerous individuals renewed their membership or purchased one for the very first time as the NRA came under assault in the wake of the Parkland massacre.
In the immediate aftermath of that deadly attack, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel immediately sought to blame the civil rights organization for the failures of his department. With the help of a complicit media, the attacks stuck and the anti-gunners began an assault.
That meant that a lot of people who had left the NRA for a number of reasons over the years came flocking back. They may have had issues with the NRA–a lot of us were less than thrilled with their stance on the need for a bump stock ban, for example–but they had a bigger issue with the people attacking the NRA.
So yeah, they may have had membership drop. Maybe.
Frankly, I don’t care. The NRA has never been purely about the membership. There are a lot of gun rights activists who follow the NRA’s lead, even if they don’t have a membership card in their wallets. The NRA’s grades for politicians is but one example. One of many.
If I were The Trace, I’d hold off on celebrating just now.