The NRA’s financial troubles have worsened.
Despite what some detractors have long said, the NRA is primarily funded by its millions of members. That’s why it’s such a terrible sign for the group that it has lost over a million of those members since corruption allegations were first levied against NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre. That membership downturn has driven a stark decline in revenues.
Combined with still-skyrocketing legal costs, the NRA has fallen into massive budget deficits. That means more cuts to core programs.
Contributing Writer Jake Fogleman reports on one area that has avoided being cut four years into the group’s current crisis: private jet travel. And I explain how the NRA used debt to fill its budget void.
President Biden gave his State of the Union this week too. He used the venue to call for one specific policy: a nationwide “assault weapons” ban. But his timing couldn’t have been any worse since a major poll released the day before found a majority of Americans have now turned against such a ban.
I also explore what the Supreme Court is likely to do with the domestic violence restraining order gun ban after a Fifth Circuit panel struck it down. That case may now be on the fast track to review, and there are reasons to think the Court might not agree with the Fifth Circuit.
Plus, best-selling fantasy author Larry Correia joins the podcast to talk about his new book defending the Second Amendment.
The NRA Has Lost Over a Million Members Since Corruption Allegations Surfaced
By Stephen Gutowski
The National Rifle Association keeps shrinking.
Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre told attendees at the gun-rights group’s most recent board meeting that the organization is down to 4.3 million members, according to multiple sources. That number is corroborated by the group’s November 2022 Financial Statement Package obtained by The Reload. That represents a downturn of more than a million members since allegations of financial impropriety were leveled against LaPierre and other members of NRA leadership in 2019. The NRA is now smaller than it has been since 2012 when internal documents show the group had 4 million members.
“Membership/Contribution Performance has continued to experience softness through 2022,” a message in a presentation prepared for the group’s finance committee in January said.
Despite slashing core expenses in recent years to account for falling membership and rising legal fees, the National Rifle Association (NRA) has continued to shell out big bucks for luxury air travel.
According to a purchasing policy disclosure report obtained by The Reload, the NRA spent more than $1.2 million with private jet companies in 2022 alone. The report—which details more than $50 million in spending on vendors with which the organization does not have a contract—documents approximately $750,000 in spending to a company called Magellan Jets LLC and another $517,000 to Corporate America Aviation Inc.
The purchasing policy disclosure arrives at the same time as financial documents detailing the group’s continued freefall in membership numbers and year-end revenue. Those have both steadily declined year-over-year since 2018, down from nearly 5.5 million members to just 4.3 million. Revenue plummeted by more than $100 million over the same timeframe.
The National Rifle Association plugged a massive gap in its 2022 budget with tens of millions in debt.
However, even after tapping its line of credit to the tune of $23.6 million, the NRA still ran an $11.6 million deficit, according to an internal budget document obtained by The Reload. The substantial borrowing came despite the group’s 2022 budget anticipating paying down the same line of credit by $10 million. An apparently unexpected drop in membership revenue and jump in legal costs forced the gun-rights group further into debt.
The reliance on debt to plug a huge hole in the NRA’s budget may become more challenging to do as its revenues decline. Without a turnaround in the group’s membership woes, it can only forestall further cuts to core services for so long.
Biden Calls for ‘Assault Weapons’ Ban in State of the Union Speech
By Stephen Gutowski
President Joe Biden asked Congress to pass a nationwide ban on AR-15s and similar firearms during his annual state of the union speech.
The president urged federal lawmakers to restrict the sale of the popular firearms as he laid out his policy agenda for the year ahead. He cited recent mass shootings in California as motivation to “do something” on guns. He touted the bipartisan gun law passed in the wake of the Uvalde elementary school shooting but insisted further gun restrictions were necessary to solve the problem.
“Ban assault weapons now! Ban them now,” Biden said. “Once and for all.”
Poll: Majority of Americans Oppose ‘Assault Weapons’ Ban
By Jake Fogleman
Bans on AR-15s and similar firearms have continued to fall out of favor with the American public.
51 percent of Americans now oppose adopting a national “assault weapons” sales ban, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll released Monday. That’s a ten-point jump in opposition since the question was last asked in 2019. Only 47 percent said they support the policy. That represents the second-lowest level of support measured since the poll began in 1995.
Those who strongly opposed a nationwide ban also outpaced those who strongly supported it for the first time since 2015.
The results are just the latest to confirm a decreased appetite for the ban. At least three separate polls conducted in 2022 documented a decline in support for the policy, even in the immediate aftermath of the Uvalde school shooting.
Podcast: Monster Hunter Author Larry Correia on Defending the Second Amendment
By Stephen Gutowski
This week we’re trying something a little bit different.
Usually, we have a guest on to talk about a recent gun story we’ve been reporting on. I thought it would be a good time to shake things up a little bit. When New York Times best-selling fantasy author Larry Correia’s agent reached out about his new non-fiction book on the Second Amendment, it seemed like a good idea.
Plus, Contributing Writer Jake Fogleman and I discuss a Fifth Circuit panel’s decision to strike down the domestic violence restraining order gun ban.
You can listen to the show on your favorite podcasting app or by clicking here. Video of the show is available on our YouTube channel. As always, Reload Members get early access to the show on Sunday. The episode goes public on Monday.
A federal appeals court has found disarming people under domestic violence restraining orders unconstitutional, setting up a showdown at the Supreme Court. How will the justices react?
A three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit unanimously vacated a Texas man’s conviction for possessing a gun while under a restraining order. They applied the standard the High Court handed down in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen and determined there was no historical analogue that matched the modern law’s purpose or methods.
“The Government fails to demonstrate that § 922(g)(8) ‘s restriction of the Second Amendment right fits within our Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation. The Government’s proffered analogues falter under one or both of the metrics the Supreme Court articulated in Bruen as the baseline for measuring ‘relevantly similar’ analogues: ‘how and why the regulations burden a law-abiding citizen’s right to armed self-defense,’” Judge Cory T. Wilson wrote for the panel in United States v. Rahimi. “As a result, § 922(g)(8) falls outside the class of firearm regulations countenanced by the Second Amendment.”
The ruling sets up a situation where a federal gun law is no longer in effect for Texas and Louisiana. The Department of Justice is unlikely to let that stand for long without asking the Supreme Court to intervene. And the Court tends to take the government’s appeals over everyone else.
I can see only two mitigating factors that might slow the case’s assent.
Outside The Reload
That’s it for this week in guns.
I’ll see you all next week.