Gun Rights Groups Rallying to Fill NRA Void

AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File

The National Rifle Association isn't what it once was. We all know this to be true. People left the organization over a number of factors, but many over their mistrust of Wayne LaPierre. His actions also opened the organization up to being attacked through the courts, with its very existence being threatened.


Those battles have hurt the NRA.

Whether we like it or not, though, it hurt the gun rights movement as a whole, primarily because no one has had a chance to step into the void left by the NRA's weakening.

But if gun control advocates think they can just roll over the gun rights groups without a fight, they have another thing coming.

Anti-gun-control groups and gun-safety advocates are launching hefty voter-mobilization drives this year with the stakes high in the fall elections given the stark differences on gun violence policy between Joe Biden and Donald Trump.

But the long-powerful National Rifle Association (NRA), which has been beset with financial and legal headaches for several years, is not expected to be nearly as active as in 2016, when it spent more than $31m to back Trump’s victorious campaign by boosting his political fortunes in key states, say gun experts and ex-NRA insiders.

Now, though, other anti-gun-control groups are trying to take up the slack.

For instance, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), an influential firearms industry lobbying group, has begun an eight-figure voter-mobilization drive to help pro-gun interests defeat President Biden, whose strong support for gun-control measures it finds anathema.

The NSSF’s general counsel, Larry Keane, said that the organization’s “GunVote” campaign will focus on seven to nine battleground states, where it will mount voter-registration, education and get-out-the-vote efforts to help Trump win the presidency again. 


Robert Spitzer, the author of several books on gun issues and an emeritus political science professor at Suny Cortland in New York, said the NRA was “as strongly behind [Trump] as they have been before”.

“However, the organization simply does not possess the money or personnel to be as influential as they were in 2016, when they spent over $31m on his campaign, and over $70m on Republican efforts around the country. Still, the gun issue will continue to be salient to an important segment of the Trump base.”

Spitzer added: “Other gun groups, such as the NSSF and state gun groups, will be working to supplant the NRA’s traditional dominance in national politics. They do not possess the degree of organization, experience and reach as the NRA of old, but they will ratchet up their efforts.”


The NSSF is uniquely positioned because they're a trade organization for the firearm industry itself, but they're also not alone. Groups like Gun Owners of America, the Second Amendment Foundation, and the Firearms Policy Coalition have all been in the trenches fighting the same fights, albeit without the NRA's resources.

All of these groups are in place and able to fill the void created by the departure of the NRA, but it's important to remember that we don't need a single group to pick up that slack.

The NRA was the proverbial 800-pound gorilla in the gun rights debate. It's entirely possible that it will be again in the near future. Yet for right now, he's an injured 800-pound gorilla that isn't capable of fighting the same battles it was just a few years ago.

Yeah, thanks for that, Wayne.

What's unlikely to happen in the aftermath of this, however, is for someone else to just become the 800-pound gorilla. Instead, we'll end up with three or four organizations that might come up a bit short individually compared to what the NRA has been, but they'll all step in to fill that void.

Yet it won't happen without individual gun rights advocates stepping up to help them. Either by donating blood or treasure, they need us to help them get to where they can fill that void.

And who knows, if they all build up powerful enough to fill it sufficiently and the NRA gets back to its former glory, we might just see a gun rights movement that's able to do more than fight a holding action in the federal hall of power.


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