April 25, 2019

COLD DYING HANDS:

NRA beset by infighting over whether it has strayed too far (LISA MARIE PANE, 4/24/19, AP)

It has been a bumpy ride for the NRA over the past year.

The massacre at a high school in Parkland, Florida, last year created a groundswell of opposition to the NRA, driven by student-led protests over gun violence. Corporate America began pushing back, with some major retailers stopping gun sales and banks dropping discounts or certain services for NRA members and gunmakers.

More recently it was disclosed that Russian operatives tried to use contacts in the NRA to influence American elections. Democrats in Congress vowed to launch investigations into the gun lobby.

The NRA does not release detailed membership numbers but has repeatedly said in recent years that it has about 5 million members. The tax-exempt organization's filings with the IRS for 2016 and 2017, the most recent years available, show combined losses of nearly $64 million. And income from membership dues plunged about $35 million in 2017.

The financial turmoil was seen as a key reason the NRA raised its dues last year for the second consecutive year.

Around the same time, the NRA saw its political influence wane during the 2018 elections and got outspent by gun control groups headed by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. More than a dozen NRA-backed congressional candidates lost in last year's midterms.

The NRA also faces regulatory pressures in New York, where the marketing of its line of insurance for gun owners involved in shootings was scrutinized. That legal action ultimately led the broker and underwriting firm for the insurance to pay millions of dollars in fines and abandon the program.

The NRA's charter was created in New York, and there are concerns that state officials may look for ways to strip it of its nonprofit status.

With the organization struggling financially, even some NRA stalwarts have begun questioning whether the millions spent on public relations and NRATV is worth the money.

One NRATV segment in particular seemed to be the last straw for some members: It took the children's show "Thomas & Friends" to task for adding some ethnically and gender diverse characters to its lineup of talking locomotives and other vehicles. The segment featured several trains wearing Ku Klux Klan hoods and sitting on flaming tracks.



Posted by at April 25, 2019 3:51 AM

  

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