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With NRA in Crisis, Trump Moves Onto “Other Gun Groups”

April 3, 2020

As the NRA Struggles, President Trump’s Team “Aggressively Reach[es] Out to Other Gun Groups”

According to a new report by the New York Times, the White House and Trump campaign are “hedg[ing] their bets” on the NRA by “aggressively reaching out to other gun groups.” This move by the Trump campaign comes at a time when the NRA is “in a weakened position” due to rampant legal and financial struggles.
The New York Times piece by Danny Hakim, which can be read in full here, tells the full story: 

  • “Amid the N.R.A.’s troubles last year, the White House increased its contacts with other organizations.” These efforts reportedly picked up recently: “Over the past several months, the White House and the Trump campaign have hedged their bets by more aggressively reaching out to other gun groups.” 
  • Alan Gottlieb, head of the Second Amendment Foundation, agreed that the White House is “reaching out to other gun rights groups for this election.” He added that,“The fact [that the White House and Trump campaign] have been reaching out as much as they have been, since things started internally at the N.R.A., one has to assume that they want to stay plugged in to the gun rights constituency.”
  • “[T]he N.R.A. has been in a weakened position. While it played a pivotal role in the 2016 race, spending $30 million to help elect President Trump, it has more recently been sapped by internal dissent, litigation and outside investigations, and was already seen as unlikely to match that figure this year.” The NRA “faced further challenges when the pandemic forced it to cancel its convention, an important source of revenue, as well as a number of fund-raising events, leading to a round of layoffs and to pay cuts of at least 20 percent across the organization.”

The Trump administration’s reported lack of faith in the NRA is a blow to the organization that was the single largest outside spender in President Trump’s 2016 election effort. This report comes at the end of a eventful week for the NRA, in which it partnered with Glenn Beck’s racist, fear mongering TV network, sued California officials over the lawful closure of gun stores during the pandemic, and now, filed a lawsuit against the state of New York for the same reason. Everytown Law responded to these lawsuits in a memo to state and local officials and a Medium post, explaining that, “The gun lobby claims that including gun stores in these closure orders impermissibly treats the Second Amendment as a ‘second-class right.’ But the truth is just the opposite. What the NRA and other gun groups are seeking instead is for Second Amendment rights to become super-rights, receiving a level of protection no other constitutional right enjoys.”

The NRA now heads into this November’s election in turmoil. In addition to laying off employees, the organization is facing charges by New York State’s Department of Financial Services, under investigation by the U.S. Senate and attorneys general in New York and DC, and locked in various lawsuits with former partner Ackerman McQueen. The organization’s political influence also appears to be waning. In 2018, the American people elected a gun sense majority in the House of Representatives, leading to the first major gun safety legislation to pass either chamber of Congress in two decades; in 2019, Everytown for Gun Safety outspent the NRA in its home state of Virginia, flipping the statehouse to a gun sense majority and leading to background check and red flags legislation; and in 2020, polling already shows that gun safety is a top priority for voters in battleground states. 

By contrast, according to Hakim’s piece, gun safety groups have “been surging in recent elections.” Everytown for Gun Safety will spend $60 million this cycle to elect gun sense majorities up and down the ballot. 

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