Question of the Day: Is the NRA in the Gun Industry’s Pocket?

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Gun control advocates like to proclaim that the National Rifle Association doesn’t represent gun owners. Or the majority of gun owners. This despite the fact that America’s oldest civil rights organization has at least five million dues-paying members (how many pay dues to MDA, Shannon?). At the same time, the antis like to label the NRA as the leader of the “gun lobby”: an unholy not-to-say secret alliance between the NRA and gunmakers, whose only goal . . .

is to SELL MORE GUNS! GUNS EVERYWHERE! LOOK! THERE’S A GUN! THERE TOO! Ahem.

The gun industry does contribute millions to the NRA. But what do you reckon? Who calls the tune? Does it even matter? Aren’t gun owners and gun makers’ political interests perfectly aligned?

comments

  1. avatar General Zod says:

    Interesting how this evil servant of the gun industry is also the foremost recognized training and safety body where firearms are concerned…but the left never mentions that, do they?

  2. avatar Brentondadams says:

    I saw Shannon Watts claim that MDA/Bloomberg has ‘2 million supporters’ … Sorry honey, Facebook likes don’t count as much.

    The NRA, industry, gun owners and buyers are all in one cozy bed together. Fine with me.

    I think that vocal members and gun buyers are essentially driving the train.

    1. avatar Pwrserge says:

      They don’t even have that many Facebook likes.

    2. avatar Cliff H says:

      MDA may have “Two million supporters” if Shannon counts each of Bloomer’s dollars as one supporter.

    3. avatar Mad Max says:

      Gun buyers are in the driver’s seat. Just ask Remington (R51).

  3. avatar PeterW says:

    So gun manufacturers want to sell more guns? That’s just the most bizarre thing I’ve ever heard.
    If the NRA helps keep the 2nd Amendment in the forefront of American minds, that’s good. Unfortunately, the Constitution does not forbid states from making stupid laws.

    1. avatar DoomGuy says:

      Unless you’re talking about immigration, gay Marraige, or any other cause célèbre of the left. Then the fed.gov will assert everything it has. Only the second amendment is butchered at the state level.

      All by design.

  4. avatar sagebrushracer says:

    Fundamentally, I agree that the NRA does represent me 95% of the time. The other 5%, well, the Devil is in the details…..

  5. avatar UnapologeticallyAmerican says:

    Ever wonder that the liberal Teacher’s Union in many states and many other groups choose to have their retirement in stocks of evil gun makers? Then doesnt the NRA then represent them too?

  6. avatar Sammy says:

    NRA= The oldest, most diverse, most genuinely grassroots organization, ever. I would say the gun manufacturers are beholding to the NRA not the other way around. And NOBODY has been responsible for selling more guns in the past 6-7 years than our dear mis-leader.

  7. avatar John L. says:

    No, the interests of gun makers and owners aren’t perfectly aligned.

    As a simple example, gun makers would probably be happier were consumers required to buy a factory spare-parts and cleaning kit with any new gun purchase. (Granted some of us do that sort of thing anyway…)

    That said, even if not perfectly aligned, I think the dot product is usually greater than 0.5 and certainly not negative. At least as the situation currently stands wrt laws, etc. That could change in the future. How, I don’t know, but I trust our elected representatives to try to divide and conquer as and where they can.

    1. avatar JWM says:

      Like in the propietary days in the old west. Buy rifle x from company x and you had to buy your ammo from them as well. .44 henry rimfire comes to mind. It wasn’t until somewhere around 1880 that Colt made a revolver that would use .44wcf to go along with the winchester rifle.

      1. avatar John L. says:

        True, but that’s an economic more than a political conflict.

        Now, if the mfgrs backed a law that said each model of gun *had* to have its own unique ammo (for the children you know), that’s both.

    2. avatar NoID says:

      +1 for the dot product reference. Yay maths.

    3. avatar Wiregrass says:

      I will say this: The gun manufacturers are a lot more aligned with my interests as a gun owner than the manufacturers and suppliers of other consumer products and services that I use, like groceries, computers, or internet service providers, or automobile manufacturers or insurance companies, or airlines.

      Although I do have some concerns about the ammo manufacturers. Where’s all the .22lr?

      1. avatar Cliff H says:

        That big building in Utah they claim is full of NSA computers reading you (our/this) e-mail? The guvmint is really buying up all the .22LR and storing it there so you can’t get any.

  8. avatar Curtis in IL says:

    Gun makers’ and gun owners’ political interests are aligned, but not perfectly.

    Case in point: Waiting periods. In Illinois, any gun purchase requires two trips to the LGS, one to fill out the 4473 and a second trip to pickup the gun, one or three days later. This has never stopped anyone from buying a gun, but it adds inconvenience and expense for the buyer.

    However, it’s all good for retailers, distributors and manufacturers alike, because they know the more times we walk into a store, the more crap they’ll sell.

    1. avatar SurfGW says:

      And it helps protect against litigation because things are documented

      1. avatar Gatha58 says:

        Wow, in WA State if you have a CPL (Concealed Pistol License) you can buy a gun and take it with you right away.

        1. avatar Marc says:

          Pay no attention to Illinois when it comes to anything involving guns. I got out over 10 years ago; haven’t looked back.

    2. avatar Evan says:

      Don’t forget 922r. Pretty sure getting gun manufacturer support on overturning that is pretty near zero.

  9. avatar pod says:

    The NRA, while not perfect, is the most powerful voice we have to counter government infringement on our firearms rights. While one can debate the execution and whether LaPierre should be allowed to speak, the NRA generally serves the interests of firearms owners around the country. Yes, I’m aware they kind of treat stamp-collectors and NFA aficionados as second-class citizens, and we need to work on that. But for now, the NRA is the biggest voice we have.

    But don’t limit your support to the NRA – support your local initiatives, like here in Florida with Florida Carry. Federal laws are one thing, but state laws and legislatures are ten times more dangerous to us. Also, if you do the NFA thing, support the American Suppressor Association as well.

  10. avatar Question Authority says:

    The NRA is not a lobby organization for the “Gun Industry”, it work for it’s members, us. I don’t always agree with details, but I am pleased to note that if the Gun Control Lobby hates the NRA, then the NRA is definitely representing my interests.

    The incessant propagandizing that is it a “Lobby for the Gun Industry” is just another ruse to demonize and tear down the NRA because it is just another obstacle. And because the lie works to some degree with people that don’t know any better, and they can get away with that lie. It is a lie that is promoted whose sole goal is to undermine the relationship between the NRA and the people that the NRA represents.

    If they want to talk about where the money comes from they need to take a deep look in the mirror first.

  11. avatar ELOT says:

    This statement is beyond stupid. Of course the gun industry supports the organization that fights for their industry to exist. The NRA represents both sides. The gun industry, in most cases, represents both sides as well. Think about the idiotic state laws that have been passed on guns recently and then think about the number of companies that paid to move their folks to another state… or refused to sell rifles to law enforcement agencies when civilians can’t own the same rifles. They did that because they support an individual’s right to own those firearms. We’re all in the same basket.

    However, while I am a dues paying member of the NRA and I appreciate their efforts… Gun Owners of America is more accurate to my tune. If you haven’t checked them out I urge you to do so.

    1. avatar Cliff H says:

      Something missing in this whole discussion, and I’ve never seen it anywhere: The majority of gun manufacturers are international companies. Of their gross sales, what percentage is represented by American citizens buying firearms for their own personal use? Since THAT is who the NRA represents and supports,

  12. avatar CJ Minnesota says:

    So, even if one doesn’t happen to be a member of the NRA, as long as you keep purchasing from gun manufacturers you are indeed contributing to the NRA. So feel good gun purchasing non-NRA members! Your contributions are also making a difference!

  13. avatar arsh says:

    I joined the NRA because the Dems forced me to by pushing all the post Sandy Hook garbage. The NRA is in place because it effectively protects our rights. The gun companies donate because they realize without a civilian market they’d lose a lot of money. It’s all a perfect storm that was created by …. the anti’s. Anti’s are like hipsters, their existence is based on irony without realizing the irony they themselves present.

    Without anti’s there would be no NRA because there’s no reason to protect rights not being infringed upon, but because they’ll never leave us alone, the NRA will forever exist.

    1. avatar Defens says:

      Very true, Anon. In fact, up until the antis started to crawl out of the slime that spawned them, the NRA was perfectly content in the training and education role. It was only when discussions about theand rumblings about the GCA ’68 starred to arise that the NRA took on the political mantle, later spinning off the ILA as the designated lobby group.

      Still, the training arms of the NRA are a major component of the whole package, from LEO and civilian training, to gunsmithing classes, to competition. Unlike the laser-focused “We want your guns” of the anti-gun groups, the NRA really is a broad and varied organization. And if the anti’s had stayed in the slime where they belonged, the NRA would still be non-political.

  14. avatar IdahoPete says:

    As an EEEVIL NRA Benefactor Member, I would like to say that the “gun industry” is in MY pocket – they would not exist without the fiscal support of millions of gun owners. And it is typical leftist drivel to not see why the firearms industry supports the NRA. Hard to sell guns if the leftist politicians manage to ban most of them, so why wouldn’t the gun makers support the organization that has done the most over the last 50 years to keep the 2nd Amendment in effect?

  15. avatar Garrison Hall says:

    For decades the NRA has led the fight against gun-controllers. At every turn, the NRA has soundly defeated gun-controllers major well-funded efforts. After Sandy Hook, the gun-control movement sensed that it had been given a historic, once-in-a-decade opportunity to use its claims of moral superiority to finally achieve it long term political objectives. It’s efforts to institutionalized gun-control failed, largely because of the superior political skills of the NRA. Significantly, at the height of the gun-control effort, membership in the NRA reach new highs while, simultaneously, public opinion swung sharply away from gun-control support and in favor of gun-ownership. The NRA is a highly successful bulwark against attacks on the 2nd amendment. Of course the gun control movement would attempt to discredit the NRA by making claims that it is simply an industry shill. Meanwhile the membership in NRA keeps growing . . . and politicians keep listening. Enough said.

  16. avatar Vitsaus says:

    The NRA has also helped create a great deal of the legislation that we are all currently working to reverse. They have helped turn machine guns into commodities that only wealthy people can trade, and have been conspicuously silent on the issues related to machine gun rights being restored. They all but ignore the worst battlegrounds for gun rights (CA, NY, NJ, MA) yet lavish money in places where there is little infringement on gun rights and throw victory parades for fighting minor local ordenances.

  17. avatar pod says:

    The interesting thing is that the antis typically use the same tactics of lobbying that the NRA does. If they do it, it’s OK, but if the eeeeevil NRA does it, it’s bad.

  18. avatar TravisP says:

    Then why would they oppose universal background checks? I mean dealer and transfer cost would nearly kill the discounted used price, so why wouldn’t I just buy new? The gun industry panders to the NRA, the NRA doesn’t pander to them. Why you ask? Because I’m the NRA, your the NRA, etc

  19. avatar Jeff Dege says:

    The interests of owners and manufacturers are often aligned, but when they aren’t, the NRA has been solidly on the side of the owners. The S&W boycott proved that.

  20. avatar Mae West says:

    Is that the NRA in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

  21. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    I believe there is a LOT of overlap between the interests of the good people of the United States of America and firearms manufacturers and the National Rifle Association seems to reflect that in the last 15 years. The only ongoing disconnect that I can think of is that many people want firearms manufacturers to refuse sales to state or federal entities who endeavor to enforce unconstitutional firearms laws among the good people of our nation. I don’t see the National Rifle Association pushing the firearms industry to comply.

    About the only time I can think of a serious disconnect was when Big Brother was Hell-bent on limiting magazine capacities and some large manufacturers endorsed the limits to avoid the possibility of Big Brother destroying their businesses. I honestly don’t recall what stance the National Rifle Association assumed back then.

  22. avatar JohnF says:

    Does the NRA represent the majority of gun owners? No. The numbers prove that. I have seen various figures, but it is clear the NRA membership is only a small fraction of gun owners. I am a member, because I think they do more good than harm, but I have to say they don’t represent me all that well.

    “Aren’t gun owners and gun makers’ political interests perfectly aligned?” No. Gun owners are interested in their individual RTKABA. Makers are interested in selling guns. There is some alignment there, but also some misalignment. A close friend is in the industry and has given me some insight here.

    1. Follow the money: When our gun rights are threatened, gun sales go up. US companies especially are cash-flow, next quarter driven. So while it would be in the best interests of owners to eliminate challenges to the RTKABA, it is in the best interest of makers to keep the threat alive, but just not too successful.

    2. We are not the only gun buyers: Individual gun owners are not the main market for the big gun makers and importers. The military, domestic and foriegn, police and large security market is very lucrative and the goals are different there. That market would continue even if civilians were disarmed. The makers and the NRA have to tread a careful line. If pushing the RTKABA in CA, for instance, offends certain government entities and could cost a maker a sale of 5,000 handguns to a CA police agency, they will back off.

    1. avatar CentralIL says:

      “Individual gun owners are not the main market for the big gun makers and importers.”

      I wonder if this is still true. The firearms market has changed a lot just in the past 6-8 years.

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/charles-lane-europes-role-in-us-gun-culture/2012/07/23/gJQAS8lI5W_story.html
      “And while Glocks have replaced revolvers and U.S.-model pistols in police holsters across the land, most Glock imports are destined for the civilian market…”

      1. avatar JohnF says:

        Citing anti-gun WaPo? Really?

        Although it is probably true. My friend in the industry says that the police and security sales are still pretty highly sought after. The margins are higher because of fewer middlemen, you get the inside track on the replacement sales later and moving thousands of units at once is pretty lucrative. My only point is that both the NRA and the makers have to be sensitive to not publicly dissing even anti-gun agencies.

  23. avatar Former Water Walker says:

    The enemy of my enemy if my friend. Or as Cuatto would say “you are what you do”. And I don’t CARE if the gun lobby/industry is in cahoots with the NRA. The other side is in cahoots with satan…go NRA!

    1. avatar TravisP says:

      The enemy of my enemy is my enemy’s enemy, nothing more, nothing less

      1. avatar Former Water Walker says:

        Speak for yourself

  24. The NRA’s 2013 Form 990: http://www.scribd.com/doc/260377342/nra-s-irs-form-990-for-2013?hc_location=ufi

    It details all revenues and expenditures, and the majority of revenue is from members. The figures in the picture a miniscule by comparison.

  25. avatar David Thompson says:

    And just maybe gun manufacturers actually believe in the natural right to self defense. Just saying.

    1. avatar Roscoe says:

      As long as there is a sale in there somewhere.

      Follow the money…in any industry.

  26. avatar Ragnarredbeard says:

    While I agree that the NRA supports and represents gun owners, there are things they don’t do that I as a Life Member would like to see. For instance, the NRA has done little if anything with the unconstitutional NFA. It has taken other orgs and citizens to start the fight. Shame, NRA.

    1. avatar pod says:

      If I’m not mistaken, the NRA endorsed the NFA in 1934, the GCA in 1968, and the Hughes Amendment in 1986?

      1. avatar SteveInCO says:

        And last I saw they were still proud supporters of the background checks we have to go through.

  27. avatar Another Bob says:

    Salon wants to sell more magazines
    Buck wants to sell more Knifes
    Cambell’s wants to sell more soup
    Every business person wants to thrive what’s your point.
    Let’s call it 200k in donations How much has m. bloomberg donated to your organization ? Transperancy is a good thing let’s compare donations and sources of funding.

    1. avatar Indiana Tom says:

      Gunmakers, the NRA, and the gun buying public knows which side of the bread the butter is on and that is fine. No worse than say the motorcycle manufacturers, ABATE, and the bike riding public. Big deal.

  28. avatar Anon in CT says:

    It’s a funny relationship.

    The NRA lobbies on behalf of us gun owners. In many cases it is lobbying and fighting for us to be allowed to buy the products that gun industry makes. Think about it – how odd is that?

    Is there a lobby group, formed and funded by people who eat, that fights for us eaters to have the right to by WonderBread and HFCS? No, of course not – but there are food-industry supported and funded groups that do that. Is there a well-funded drivers lobby group that works to keep gasoline legal? No, but Big Oil and the Automakers do that.

    So you can see how it could be a little confusing for lefties, who are really just simple folks. For them, it really doesn’t compute that there are over 5,000,000 people who freely send their own cash to lobby the government just to keep the right to buy some products made by guys who, by the way, also have their own lobbying guys (the NSSF). So why does this happen – because Big Government, usually (but not always) at the behest of the lefties keeps trying to take away guns and our right to use them.

    Without the gun control politico-compliex, the NRA would be a bunch of old Fudds and a few cheap training programs. The modern NRA is ENTIRELY a natural reaction to the gun grabbers. They literally created it.

  29. avatar Paul says:

    I don’t hear any of the anti’s (least of all the Prez) complaining about the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety being a lap dog for the insurance industry. Perhaps because it is one of the largest private sector propagandizers for other aspects of an invasive nanny state and I am sure funds that other “Moms Against” organization.

  30. avatar dwb says:

    All gun owners are mentally defective angry criminals, why else do they need a gun. The only people that represent them are criminal defense attorneys.

    /sarcasm

    Represented by the _____ lobby is the last resort of someone who cannot win an argument. Because clearly, someone is pulling your strings at the voting booth.

  31. avatar Ralph says:

    Aren’t gun owners and gun makers’ political interests perfectly aligned?

    No.

    Remember when Bill Ruger proposed banning POSSESSION of all firearms magazines holding more than 15 rounds, which proposal was endorsed by SAAMI and NSSF?

    Remember when Tomkins PLC owned Smith & Wesson and sold out to Clinton? Only the boycott and subsequent sale of S&W to Saf-T-Hammer stopped the collaboration with Slick Willy’s regime.

    The interests of the firearms industry and we the people certainly overlap in places, but they are not the same — as we have been reminded too many times in the past. If their business is threatened, the industry will throw us to the wolves in a heartbeat.

    1. avatar pod says:

      He did indeed:

      “The best way to address the firepower concern is therefore not to try to outlaw or license many millions of older and perfectly legitimate firearms (which would be a licensing effort of staggering proportions) but to prohibit the possession of high capacity magazines. By a simple, complete and unequivocal ban on large capacity magazines, all the difficulty of defining ‘assault rifle’ and ‘semi-automatic rifles’ is eliminated. The large capacity magazine itself, separate or attached to the firearm, becomes the prohibited item. A single amendment to Federal firearms laws could effectively implement these objectives.”

      I’ve only been a POTG for a few years, well after he made those comments, and his death, but I still have yet to purchase or even handle a Ruger firearm. Maybe I’m being petty but I’m not entirely trusting that with his death, that attitude at Ruger went away.

      1. avatar Geoff PR says:

        “I’ve only been a POTG for a few years, well after he made those comments, and his death, but I still have yet to purchase or even handle a Ruger firearm.”

        Next time you’re at a dealer, take a look at a Super Redhawk in .44 mag. or their other larger hand-cannons.

        Impressive build quality.

      2. avatar CentralIL says:

        I remember being annoyed by Ruger’s “Arms Makers for Responsible Sportsmen” motto. It reeked of Fudd. At some point they changed “Sportsmen” to “Citizens.” Definitely better, but still defensive. It sounds like they are apologizing for something.

        Still, Ruger does seem to be catching on. Normal capacity magazines and pistols pre-threaded for (gasp) suppressors. Bill Ruger must be turning over in his grave.

  32. avatar Tyler from AR says:

    They’re in bed with the gun industry the same way every single one of us here are. Which is great.

  33. avatar Excedrine says:

    The anti-rights lobby, as they are much more accurately known, claims that the evil “gun industry” (whatever that means) and it’s partners gave to the NRA between $20 million and $52.5 million from 2005 to 2011.

    According to the NRA’s publicly-viewable IRS 990 forms, the NRA took in a grand total of $1,594,131,472 in that same period. Yes, you’re reading that correctly, ladies and gentlemen: almost $1.6 BILLION, with a “B”.

    Now, even assuming that the “$20M – $52.5M” figure is remotely accurate, and of course there is still naturally no verifiable (much less reputable) source for this estimate, that’s still a total of just 1.25% – 3.29% of their total revenues for that period.

  34. avatar Kyle says:

    The gun industry answers to the NRA (i.e. the general public), not the other way around. Hence what happened with Smith and Wesson for awhile back in the early 2000s and Ruger. The gun manufacturing industry is tiny. There is no way it has the financial power to give the NRA the influence it has. Michael Bloomberg routinely outspends the NRA. What gives the NRA the power it has are the American people. It is by far the largest civil rights organization in the country (maybe even the world?) with four to five million members and an estimated 10x that many non-members who support its basic mission. It is only as powerful as the American people make it. To call it a “special interest” really is misleading, as it is not an industrial lobby but rather a lobby devoted to protecting a right.

    1. avatar foo dog says:

      ding ding ding- you win the innertubez for the day on this post. Thank you.
      Largest 2A civil rights organization- that is a keeper.

      You gotta figure if the anti-gunners are so hysterical making up and repeating lies about the NRA there must be something that terrifies them and Bloomberg… and that would be the power of the real people, in flyover country, and elsewhere that the NRA has served for hundred years.

      My guess is NRA is quietly grabbing up more and more hearts and minds from the Millenials and other independent thinkers, who dont rely on what fake mommies and elitist rich guys tell them what to think, via Fakebook.

  35. avatar Raul Ybarra says:

    While they may be right in that the NRA only comprises around 3-5% of gun owners, their priorities and activities are focused on the rights of all gun owners, so in that context, they do represent all of us indirectly.

    On the question of the NRA catering to the gun manufacturers? Actually, I believe the antis have that dead backwards. The gun manufacturers cater to the NRA. They don’t have to convince us to buy guns. We’re already there. They only need to sway us on which gun(s) to buy.

  36. avatar One If By Land 1776 says:

    I think it’s safe to say there is a symbiotic relationship here – which is fine by me. The NRA fundamentally represents it’s membership, to preserve and protect our right to bear arms. In order to have that right, we also need a place to get arms and ammunition. The manufacturers also have a stake in that they need to keep their customers and their product “legal”. The NRA not only has to protect our rights directly, but indirectly as well by ensuring there is a product for us to buy, keep and bear…and all of that is exactly what we need them to be doing, and that’s perfectly fine by me.

  37. avatar John Dalton says:

    This seems like the classic case of the “enemy of my enemy is my friend”!

    I don’t care if the NRA and the firearms industry are married……….as long as the NRA does all within it’s power to protect the Second Amendment……..as long as it can!

    1. avatar Former Water Walker says:

      Great minds think alike!

  38. avatar CentralIL says:

    Trying to remember, where did the NRA stand on the S&W boycott back around 2000? If they were in the pockets of the manufacturers, wouldn’t they have supported S&W?

  39. avatar Jonathan - Houston says:

    So the people who manufacture firearms have a vested interest in ensuring that the freedom to purchase their products doesn’t perish? Huh. (In other breaking news, Budweiser opposes Prohibition.)

    It’s always funny, and by that I mean it never is, when people, whose entire Weltanschauung stems from the premise that a certain, select few rightfully hold illimitable dominion over each of their individual countrymen, are shocked, SHOCKED, that their countrymen might seek to limit their control.

    No wonder these statists fear and loathe the well-armed lambs, what with their woolly-minded notions about liberty and individuality and such.

  40. avatar mirgc says:

    If the NRA were for the so called “gun-lobby”, they would be pushing for UBC’s. Anything to make buying or trading older firearms more cumbersome, and pushing the cost up to (or over) the cost of buying new.

    But they don’t do that, do they.

  41. avatar Chip Bennett says:

    I’m sure that Bloomberg et al know that the NSSF is the organization that lobbies for the gun industry. It’s just that NRA makes a sexier Bogeyman/target for their Alinsky tactics.

  42. avatar Steve says:

    Shoot, I’M in the gun industry’s pocket. 😀 I’m a willing and eager consumer of their products, which is why I subscribe to and read gun mags, contribute to organizations that protect their right to manufacture, a dealer’s right to sell, my neighbors’ right to sell and my right to buy. And I do buy. Bring it. However, if we were all so beholden, we wouldn’t be crying foul over crap product and publicizing recalls and demanding better product. I’m in their pocket like a writer is in the pocket of the paper industry.

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