Feb 18, 2013

The NRA is Funded by Gun Makers: In Defense of a Provocative Statement

The NRA is Funded by Gun Makers: In Defense of a Provocative Statement 
(c) Rabbi Menachem Creditor
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A few concerned readers of JWeekly have written regarding my statement:

You have to act. And in order to act, you have to know things. You have to remember that the NRA is 80 percent funded by gun makers [and] that this is not a question of the Second Amendment; it’s a question of protecting profit.” (Galvanized by gun violence: Local Jews getting involved in efforts to stem the tide, Feb 14)

These respondents claim that only a small fraction of the NRA's funding comes from direct donations from the gun industry. This is a lie that has been circulated, amplified, and unfortunately picked up by many in the media. I've pasted below a few recent essays/articles that detail the facts, deeply hidden from view.

I believe the Dreier articlea terrible, shocking, analysis by the E.P. Clapp Distinguished Professor of Politics at Occidental College, presents the most comprehensive and compelling information.


from Walter Hickey's "How The Gun Industry Funnels Tens Of Millions Of Dollars To The NRA" Business Insider (Jan. 16, 2013)

The bulk of the [NRA]'s money now comes in the form of contributions, grants, royalty income, and advertising, much of it originating from gun industry sources.
Since 2005, the gun industry and its corporate allies have given between $20 million and $52.6 million to it through the NRA Ring of Freedom sponsor program. Donors include firearm companies like Midway USA, Springfield Armory Inc, Pierce Bullet Seal Target Systems, and Beretta USA Corporation. Other supporters from the gun industry include Cabala's, Sturm Rugar & Co, and Smith & Wesson.
The NRA also made $20.9 million — about 10 percent of its revenue — from selling advertising to industry companies marketing products in its many publications in 2010, according to the IRS Form 990. 
Additionally, some companies donate portions of sales directly to the NRA. Crimson Trace, which makes laser sights, donates 10 percent of each sale to the NRA. Taurus buys an NRA membership for everyone who buys one of their guns. Sturm Rugar gives $1 to the NRA for each gun sold, which amounts to millions. The NRA's revenues are intrinsically linked to the success of the gun business.
The NRA Foundation also collects hundreds of thousands of dollars from the industry, which it then gives to local-level organizations for training and equipment purchases.
This shift is key to understanding why a coalition of hunters, collectors and firearm enthusiasts takes the heat for incidents of gun violence, like the shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, rather than the companies that manufacture and market assault weapons. 

from Peter Dreier's "Mainstream Media Downplay NRA's Close Ties to Gun Industry" HuffPost (Jan 13, 2013)
A few columnists and editorial writers exposed the NRA's close links to the gun industry. "The NRA represents gun manufacturers, end of story," wrote Michael McNulty, a Tuscon attorney who chaired former Cong. Gabrielle Giffords' campaigns, in a Washington Post op-ed column on July 29. On March 22, soon after the killing of Trayvon Martin in Florida, Times columnist Gail Collins observed: "This is big business. The N.R.A. takes in more than $200 million a year, which is a heck of a lot more than it made back in the old days, when its principal activity was running marksmanship classes. A considerable chunk of the cash comes from gun manufacturers and gun sellers." In a damning editorial on December 21 (a week after the Newtown, Connecticut massacre), entitled "National Rifle (Selling) Association," the Times wrote: "The association presents itself as a grass-roots organization, but it has become increasingly clear in recent years that it represents gun makers. Its chief aim has been to help their businesses by increasing the spread of firearms throughout American society."
But in its news stories, the media downplays the reality that the NRA is essentially a corporate lobby group on behalf of gun manufacturers. In doing so, the media misleads the public about the NRA's core mission -- selling guns and making profits, not protecting rights.

from Jordan Weissman's "Whom Does the NRA Really Speak For?" The Atlantic (Dec. 18, 2012)
...membership fees don't pay the NRA's bills alone. In recent years, the group has become more aggressive about seeking donations, both from individuals and corporations, and that in turn has led it to become more deeply entwined with the gun industry. In 2010, it received $71 million in contributions, up from $46.3 million in 2004. Some of that money came from small-time donors, who've received a barrage of fundraising appeals warning of President Obama's imminent plot to gut the Second Amendment and confiscate Americans' firearms. But around 2005, the group began systematically reaching out to its richest members for bigger checks through its "Ring of Freedom" program, which also sought to corral corporate donors. Between then and 2011, the Violence Policy Center estimates that the firearms industry donated as much as $38.9 million to the NRA's coffers. The givers include 22 different gun makers, including famous names like Smith & Wesson, Beretta USA, SIGARMS, and Sturm, Ruger & Co. that also manufacture so-called assault weapons.  
Some of that funding has given the NRA a direct stake in gun and ammo sales. As Bloomberg noted in its January article, Sturm, Ruger & Co. launched a campaign to sell one million guns, and promised to donate $1 of each purchase to the group. Since 1992, MidWay USA, which retails gun supplies including ammo and controversial high-capacity magazines, has allowed its customers to round up each of their online and mail orders to the nearest dollar, and automatically donate the extra to the NRA. Together with other companies that have joined the effort, MidWay has helped collect more than $9 million for NRA. MidWay's owner, Larry Pottfield, also happens to be the the group's largest individual donor. 
These connections have fueled the theory among some gun-control advocates that the NRA is just another corporate front. That might theoretically explain why the group has opposed  politically popular measures such as requiring background checks at gun shows and banning sales to people on the terrorist watch list, proposals that even its own members have been found to support. For gun makers, the fewer rules, the better. 
from Josh Sugarmann's "NRA Reaps Profits From the Internet Ammo Sales It Made Possible" HuffPost (7/24/12)
The  Violence Policy Center 2011 report, "Blood Money: How the Gun Industry Bankrolls the NRA,found that between 2005 and 2010, contributions from gun industry "corporate partners" to the NRA totaled between $14.7 million and $38.9 million. Total donations to the NRA from all "corporate partners" -- both gun industry and non-gun industry -- for the same time period totaled between $19.8 million and $52.6 million. The vast majority of funds -- 74 percent -- contributed to the NRA from "corporate partners" came from members of the firearms industry: companies involved in the manufacture or sale of firearms or shooting-related products. Many of these "corporate partners" are honored in the NRA's Ring of Freedom, with the Golden Ring of Freedom "reserved for those who have given gifts of cash or assets to the NRA totaling one million dollars or more." And the most recent honoree in the NRA's million-dollar Golden Ring of FreedomSmith & Wesson, manufacturer of the M&P15 assault rifle used in the Colorado massacre.

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