National Rifle Association

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The National Rifle Association (NRA) was founded in 1871 to "promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis," and is "widely recognized today as a major political force and as America's foremost defender of Second Amendment rights," according to the NRA website. [1] Affiliated organizations include the Institute for Legislative Action, the NRA's lobbying arm, and the NRA Foundation, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, which provides "a means to raise millions of dollars to fund gun safety and educational projects of benefit to the general public." [1]

It is reported that NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre made over $900,000 a year, circa 2007. [2]

Activities in the 2011/2012 Wisconsin Recall Elections

The National Rifle Association (NRA) became involved in the Wisconsin recall election between Governor Scott Walker and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett after the May 8 primary. The WDC estimates that the NRA has spent at least $800,000 as of May 30th through its registered PAC, the National Rifle Association of America (NRA-NRAA). The ad buys include radio, TV, and nearly omnipresent web banner ads. [3]

Among the ads the NRA-NRAA has sponsored is a radio ad titled "Think Again" that alleges Barrett voted to restrict access to deer rifles during his time in Congress. The claim has been widely criticized and actually refers to Barrett's 1994 vote in Congress for the assault weapons ban, a bipartisan federal law that was supported by Republican leaders Ronald Reagan and Rudy Guliani, and others who recognized that semi-automatic assault weapons designed to kill people are hardly the deer-hunting weapons of choice for America's game hunters. [4]

Walker asks for Support at NRA Convention

Walker spoke at the NRA national convention in St. Louis, Missouri where he asked for "help" and "support" in his upcoming recall election. He also received an award for "outstanding leadership and achievement on behalf of NRA members and gun owners" for signing legislation to allow people to carry concealed firearms and a bill inspired by the NRA-backed "Stand Your Ground" law that was cited initially to prevent the arrest of George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin in Florida. Both bills advance the gun agenda of the controversial American Legislative Exchange Council. [5] [6]

Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council

The NRA is a long-time member and longtime funder of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and an NRA representative has served on the Public Safety and Elections Task Force, and its predecessor Crime Committees, for many years. ."[7]

Tara Mica, NRA-Institute for Legislative Action State Liaison, was the co-chair of ALEC's Public Safety and Elections Task Force from 2008 until the Spring of 2011. [8] [9] [10] (formerly known as the Criminal Justice and Homeland Security). [11] While the NRA was co-chair, that Task Force approved the controversial "voter ID" bill and the Arizona anti-immigrant legislation, SB 1070, as model bills, in addition to other gun laws.[12]

In 2008, ALEC filed an amicus brief in a U.S. Supreme Court case on the same side as the NRA.[13] Later, at the American Conservative Union's CPAC meeting, the NRA's Cam Edwards interviewed Michael Hough, ALEC's "Public Safety and Elections Task Force" director/staffer, to discuss "ALEC's strong relationship with the NRA and explain the support of gun rights and ownership." Hough told listeners that ALEC worked "with our partners, the National Rifle Association" on the brief. He also described the fruitful relationship between ALEC and the NRA on issues like the Shoot First legislation, which ALEC and the NRA call the "Castle Doctrine," stating:

"Some of the things that we were pushing in states was the 'Castle Doctrine,' we worked with the NRA on that. That's one of our model bills we have states introduce and another one was the Emergency Powers legislation, which was enacted in a couple states, including some liberal states that normally don't give us anything. Like California, for example, where now you have on the law there where the governor can't come in and take your guns in an emergency, like we saw in Louisiana and some other states."

* ALEC's legal argument on guns can be found here.

The Center for Media & Democracy's infographic (PDF) shows some of the connections between the NRA, ALEC, and the effect of the ALEC/NRA Shoot First law.

Recent ALEC "Model" Bills on Guns"

ALEC, The NRA and "Stand Your Ground" Laws

ALEC has a model bill called the Castle Doctrine Act that states have used as a template to adopt their own "Stand Your Ground" legislation. The bill was originally offered to ALEC by the NRA. NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer assisted in writing the bill, and subsequently lobbied heavily for its passage in Florida. Following the passage of the bill into law, Hammer introduced the bill to ALEC's Criminal Justice Task Force (which became the Public Safety and Elections Task Force). Since ALEC's adoption of the model bill (which passed unanimously) [14], 16 states have passed legislation that draws directly from the Castle Doctrine Act. [15] ALEC's senior staffer on gun policy, Michael Hough, boasted on NRA radio that this legislation was "one of our model bills we have states introduce." [16] On April 17, 2012, ALEC claimed to have disbanded their Public Safety and Elections task force, but a chair of the task force made it clear that work would merely be shifted elsewhere in the organization. [17]

ALEC, The NRA and Machine Guns

The retail sale of machine guns has been barred by federal law since the gangster era, but at ALEC's "policy summit" in Scottsdale in December, 2011, the NRA successfully obtained the approval of the ALEC crime task force for a modified "model" bill that would ban cities from barring the sale of "machine guns," expressly. The Center for Media & Democracy documented this in its two-part special report on how the NRA's gun agenda has thrived while Koch Industries has helped lead ALEC through its seat on ALEC's corporate board and on its crime task force last year. (Koch continues to bankroll and back ALEC.)

ALEC also strongly opposed the 1994 "Assault Weapons Ban," which sought to prevent the U.S. sale of semi-automatic weapons, similar to the notorious AK-47 -- a rapid-fire style weapon that has been used in numerous mass murders in the U.S. That ban has since expired. ALEC also filed papers with the courts calling for city bans on guns to be struck down as unconstitutional. And, ALEC's move in January, 2012 to urge state legislators to prevent city officials from limiting access to machine guns comes in the wake of an earlier decision by new justices on the U.S. Supreme Court who struck down D.C.'s gun ban, in part at ALEC's request.

The NRA's gun agenda helps protect and expand the market for the firearms sold by the weapons companies that bankroll its multi-million dollar lobbying and influence operations. Although ALEC's crime task force no longer officially exists, ALEC is doing nothing to undo the damage done through its many years of advancing the wish list of the gun industry through laws like SYG, pushing for guns on college campuses, and even opposing codes of conduct for gun makers and sellers. [18]

Further Links

The total amount the NRA has paid in membership dues to ALEC is unknown. In addition to annual fees, the NRA can pay a premium to be featured as a co-sponsor of ALEC meetings. For example, at last year's annual ALEC convention, the NRA was a "Vice-Chairman" level sponsor of 2011 American Legislative Exchange Council Annual Conference, which in 2010, equated to $25,000.[19]

ALEC conventions also often promote shooting events for ALEC legislators and corporate lobbyists that are sponsored by the NRA.[20] The NRA hosted its regular annual shooting event at ALEC's 2012 summer convention. For the past several years, on the Saturday of ALEC's annual meeting, the NRA has regularly hosted an outing for ALEC legislators and lobbyists to go shooting together -- with complimentary guns and ammo plus plenty of food and drink. [21]

See this video from 2008 where ALEC's Michael Huff discusses "ALEC’s strong relationship with the NRA and explains the support of gun rights and ownership." [22]

About ALEC
ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's, and check out breaking news on our site.

Lobbying, Political Contributions and Independent Expenditures

According to the Center for Responsive Politics' Open Secrets website, "between 2001 and 2010, the NRA spent between $1.5 million and $2.7 million on federal-level lobbying efforts. During the 2010 election cycle, the NRA spent more than $7.2 million on independent expenditures at the federal level -- messages that advocate for or against political candidates. These messages primarily supported Republican candidates or opposed Democratic candidates." [23]

In the 2010 federal congressional elections, the NRA contributed $902,700 to Republican candidates and gave $373,350 to Democratic candidates.[24]

Starting with the 1994 elections, writes Richard Dreyfus in the American Prospect, "the NRA closely coordinated its election strategy with Republican Party officials. According to Tom King, a Democratic political strategist who calls the NRA a “wholly owned subsidiary of the Republican Party,” the Republicans provided the NRA with polling data and lists of vulnerable Democrats in order to coordinate campaigns. . . In addition to strategizing with the Republicans, the NRA-ostensibly a single-issue organization-was throwing its lot in with other conservative groups, many of whom had little interest in guns but shared the NRA’s desire to unseat Democrats. Together, these groups pursued lower taxes, free market economics, a smaller federal government, and a cutback in safety and health regulations." [25]

According to a 1999 CBS News report, "Campaign contributions from the NRA are proving to be an accurate barometer of how individual senators would vote on gun control." The report notes that "Thirty-two of the 34 senators who supported the NRA on each of four key gun control votes received money for their last election from the gun industry lobbying group." [26]

Historical Information

(this section relates to material about the NRA prior to 2004; it is under review for updated information.

"NRA News"

In December 2003, Associated Press reported that the NRA was investigating buying a radio or television channel to allow it to bypass electioneering restrictions on advocacy groups. "We're looking at bringing a court case that we're as legitimate a media outlet as Disney or Viacom or Time-Warner," the NRA's executive vice president, Wayne LaPierre, told AP. "Why should they have an exclusive right to relay information to the public, and why should not NRA be considered as legitimate a news source as they are? That's never been explored legally," he said. [27]

Under the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law, advocacy groups with corporate or union funding can't run television or radio ads identifying candidates in the month before a primary or two months before a general election. However, news organizations are exempt from these restrictions. The NRA is already a major publisher, producing seven monthly publications for subscribers and newsstand sales; it sought to classify itself as a "media outlet," which would allow it to run commercials near elections. [27] (In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down key parts of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law in the Citizens United decision.)

In June 2004, the NRA revealed that it would commence broadcasting NRANews, a three hour daily program.

(moved "PR Strategy: Starting Fires" to discussion page)

NRA and tobacco

The NRA was admired by Philip Morris management and cited as a template for carrying out effective pro-industry activities in which a corporation itself could not legitimately engage. The NRA is mentioned numerous times in the tobacco industry's documents as a successful lobbying group worthy of emulation. Operation Downunder Conference Notes (Philip Morris 1987) mention the NRA's "Make it Hurt" strategy (creating political risk for legislators where none otherwise exists). In a 1985 speech, Bill Murray of Philip Morris admires how the NRA has been able to motivate its members to action, something the tobacco industry had been unable to do. The NRA served as a template for the National Smokers Association (an early Philip Morris's smokers' rights group which preceded the National Smokers Alliance). A January 1988 PM Five Year Plan states,

In 1988, we intend to create local smokers' rights associations throughout the U.S. The basis for these associations will be a network of 50,000 "block captains" who will monitor local smoking issues, write or visit political decision-makers, write letters to local newspapers and generally serve as a grass roots voice for smokers' rights. We intend to link these "captains" to local, state and ultimately a national rights organization. Once the national organization is established and funded, we will spin the Smokers Newsletters into it and create a self-sustaining membership organization similar to the National Rifle Page 123

The tobacco industry also found common ground with the NRA as an organization that supported a controversial, yet legal product. A Tobacco Institute strategy document states industry strategy to

Identify large, influential groups concerned with freedom of expression and other Constitutional "rights" (e. g. the National Rifle Association and the Second Amendment, groups opposed to polygraph tests and the Fifth Amendment,minority groups and the 14th Amendment, etc.) and encourage their support for consistent and fair application of Constitutional protection for legal products and practices.[1]

Contact information

National Rifle Association of America
11250 Waples Mill Road
Fairfax, VA 22030

Articles and Resources

Related SourceWatch articles

External links

  • Sharon Theimer, "Gun Lobby Looking to Buy Media Outlet", Associated Press, December 7, 2003.
  • Eric Mink, Target audience, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December 10, 2003.
  • Douglas Quenqua, "NRA vows to reveal Dems posing as gun supporters," PR Week, March 1, 2004.
  • Mark Hand, "NRA courts controversy in push to amplify message," PR Week, September 19, 2005, p. 12 (not available online).
  • Thalif Deen, "U.S. Gun Lobby Blasts U.N. Arms Meet", InterPress Service, June 21, 2006.


  1. 1.0 1.1 "A Brief History of the NRA", National Rifle Association website, accessed July 9, 2011.
  2. Richard Feldman, Ricochet:Confessions of a Gun Lobbyist (excerpt),available at "Google Books," accessed July 9, 2011.
  3. Will Dooling, Citizens United Unleashed in Wisconsin Recall, PR Watch, May 31, 2012
  4. Politifact, In Wisconsin recall, NRA says Dem challenger Tom Barrett voted to ban deer hunting guns, Politifact, May 16, 2012
  5. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, NRA-ILA, accessed June 1, 2012
  6. Brendan Fischer, NRA Awards Scott Walker for Pushing Concealed Guns and the ALEC-related "Castle Doctrine" (Shoot First) Laws, PR Watch, April 15, 2012
  7. Defenders of Wildlife and Natural Resources Defense Council, "Corporate America's Trojan Horse in the States: The Untold Story Behind the American Legislative Exchange Council" March 2002
  8. Ron Williams, District 39 State Representative Jeff Smith Garners NRA Endorsement (noting Tara Reilly Mica's title), June 17, 2011, Columbus Packet, accessed July 9, 2011.
  9. Tara Mica bio, ALEC website, accessed July 9, 2011.
  10. Randall G. Shelden, Research Brief: American Legislative Exchange Council, Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, April 2011, accessed July 9, 2011.
  11. Criminal Justice and Homeland Security Task Force, ALEC website, accessed July 9, 2011.
  12. Lisa Graves, Resources for Investigating ALEC/NRA Gun Bills PR Watch, March 30, 2012
  13. Lisa Graves "Resources for Investigating ALEC/NRA Gun Bills" PR Watch, March 30, 2012
  14. Brendan Fischer, "ALEC Ratified the NRA-Conceived Law That May Protect Trayvon Martin's Killer" PR Watch, March 21, 2012)
  15. Brendan Fischer, "ALEC Ratified NRA-Conceived Law That May Protect Trayvon Martin's Killer" PR Watch, March 21, 2012
  16. Lisa Graves, "Resources for Investigating ALEC/NRA Gun Bills", PR Watch, March 30, 2012
  17. PRW Staff "ALEC Leader Admits Last Week's Announcement Was a PR Stunt" PR Watch, April 25, 2012)
  18. Lisa Graves, "The Trap Shoot Must Go On: Guess Who'll Be Shootin' with ALEC Members in Salt Lake?" PR Watch, July 19, 2012
  19. [American Legislative Exchange Council, 2011 Conference Sponsors, conference brochure on file with CMD, August 11, 2011]
  20. Lisa Graves, Resources for Investigating ALEC/NRA Gun Bills PR Watch, March 30, 2012
  21. Lisa Graves, "The Trap Shoot Must Go On: Guess Who'll Be Shootin' with ALEC Members in Salt Lake?" PR Watch, July 19, 2012
  22. NRA News, CPAC 2008: Michael Huff of the American Legislative Exchange Council,, accessed July 9, 2011.
  23. Center for Responsive Politics, NRA Summary, OpenSecrets.Org, accessed July 9, 2011.
  24. National Rifle Association Recipients,"Open"
  25. Richard Dreyfuss, Political Snipers, American Prospect, Sept 21, 1995, accessed July 9, 2011.
  26. AP, In Gun Lobby's Pocket, CBS News, Feb 11, 1999, accessed July 9, 2011.
  27. 27.0 27.1 AP, NRA Looks to Buy Media Outlet, be Exempt from Election Rules, USA Today, Dec. 6, 2003, accessed July 9, 2011.

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