Report: Gun Rights Groups Raise More Money Than Gun Control Groups

Monday, 18 Aug 2014 08:57 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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The National Rifle Association still remains the most powerful gun-rights group in the United States but more organizations are springing up in the battle for and against gun control.

The national gun rights groups are raising far more than gun control nonprofits, bringing in some $301 million in revenue, according to the most recent tax filings available, from 2012, with gun control proponents' groups raising just more than $16 million, reports the Center for Public Integrity.

But the NRA is no longer the only game in town, and it's fighting against other highly funded groups such as Everytown for Gun Safety, a group backed by wealthy former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, told the center that there is now "a well-financed and formidable force positioned to take on the Washington gun lobby."

But such groups, while sounding optimistic, have a long way to go to fight the NRA, which has been around for nearly 150 years and boasts a budget of more than $200 million and a powerful grass-roots nationwide base.

The NRA isn't only fighting against gun control advocates but for funding from other gun-rights groups.

Gun Owners of America opposes all gun control measures, and the National Association for Gun Rights, which is anti-NRA, is posing a challenge for NRA funding.

NAGR's revenue has grown from $1.8 million in 2011 to $2.4 million in 2012, and complains the NRA isn't doing its job, according to the center.

"The NRA has taken gun owners’ money and, more importantly, their trust and used it to support those who have a horrible record when it comes to gun rights," the NAGR said in a press release, according to the center.

Meanwhile, the NRA has criticized the actions of Open Carry Texas as "downright weird," a claim it retracted after the group, which carries long guns in public as a protest against a Texas ban on openly carrying handguns, complained, the center reports.

As a result, even as the gun control movement grew in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, people rushed to join with the NRA and with groups even more conservative because of fears of losing their rights to bear arms.

Membership in not only the NRA, but the NAGR and others are growing, and the NRA is finding itself focusing on widening its appeal.

Meanwhile, the NRA often targets Bloomberg's group, even though his donation of $50 million to the cause is just about a quarter of what the NRA brings in yearly. The group also boasts some 5 million members.

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence has also amassed power, including the passage of the Brady Act to mandate federal background checks for firearms purchases, and the assault weapons ban, both of which were signed in 1994 by then-President Bill Clinton. The assault weapons ban has since expired.

And while there have been a series of serious mass shootings since the 1999 Columbine High School attacks, including the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007; the gunfire in 2011 in Tucson, Arizona, that injured then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords; the Aurora, Colorado, theater shootings in 2012; and then the Sandy Hook shootings.

The day after the Sandy Hook shootings, Moms Demand Action was formed, and Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, started Americans for Responsible Solutions on the second anniversary of her shooting.

But as far as 2014 campaign receipts go, political action committees are running side by side. The NRA's PAC had receipts of about $18 million by June 30, with the ARS PAC's coming in at $17.5 million. The ARS, though, has spent nearly $8.5 million, compared to the NRA's $2.7 million, the center reported, citing Federal Election Commission filings.

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