Disbanding the NRA won’t be a magic bullet for gun control

On Aug. 6, 2020, following numerous scandals at the National Rifle Association, New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit seeking to shut down the group. In the suit, James accused Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s chief executive, and a number of senior officials, as well as the organization itself, of contributing to the loss of more than $64 million over three years. Detailed allegations of financial misconduct, self-dealing and lavish spending pepper the 169-page complaint. These public reports have led to a revolt among some NRA members and protests from a number of the organization’s own directors. Even before the lawsuit was filed, the NRA was having problems, with fundraising revenue plummeting 21%, according to documents obtained by Bloomberg. And because the NRA is a nonprofit originally incorporated in New York, James’ lawsuit carries a serious risk of shuttering the powerful gun rights group. These challenges all combine to create the greatest existential threat to the NRA since its founding 150 years ago and leave the organization in its weakest position in decades. So, what would happen if James succeeds and the NRA disappears? Some make the mistake of thinking the NRA derives its power from money, or exists largely as the voice of firearms manufacturers. But the group’s real political sway comes by way of its millions of members, whom it efficiently mobilizes against gun control legislation. In recent decades, the NRA has been effective in framing the Second Amendment as a cultural issue — and then […]

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