Politics NRA's gun rights message lingers despite legal, money woes
Everytown features gun owners, law enforcement in ad blitz pushing background checks
A leading gun control advocacy group is launching a $500,000 ad campaign urging Congress to pass legislation to expand background checks on gun sales.Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund will air a series of new TV and digital ads in Alaska, North Carolina, Ohio and Texas over the next two weeks. The ads feature gun owners and members of law enforcement in an effort to get Republicans on board with bills to strengthen background checks."TheEverytown for Gun Safety Action Fund will air a series of new TV and digital ads in Alaska, North Carolina, Ohio and Texas over the next two weeks. The ads feature gun owners and members of law enforcement in an effort to get Republicans on board with bills to strengthen background checks.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Liberals have cheered the highly public legal and financial jeopardy ensnaring the National Rifle Association, seeing the gun lobby's potential demise as the path to stricter firearms laws.
But, it turns out, the NRA's message has become so solidified in the Republican Party that even if the organization implodes from bankruptcy and allegations of lavish spending and misuse of funds, its unapologetic pro-gun point of view will live on, as the heated debate increasingly shifts from Washington to the states.
NRA drops lawsuit against NY attorney general, to pursue claims in Manhattan
NRA drops lawsuit against NY attorney general, to pursue claims in ManhattanNEW YORK (Reuters) -The National Rifle Association said on Friday it will defend against New York Attorney General Letitia James' bid to shut it down in a state court in Manhattan, and has dismissed its own federal lawsuit to block its dissolution.
Not even the shift in power to Democrats in the White House and Congress has been enough to push through new federal restrictions, and states continue to pass laws with far-reaching protections for gun owners.
Ever confident, the NRA, which is based in Fairfax, Virginia, says the suggestion it is receding is magical thinking on the left. The group promises it will emerge from bankruptcy stronger, particularly as it seeks to relocate to the decidedly pro-gun rights state of Texas.
The durable nature of the NRA’s clout is an exemplar of how difficult it is to claw back control from an entrenched lobbying powerhouse that has planted deep roots in the American political system with money, organization and relentless messaging.
NRA withdraws federal lawsuit against New York Attorney General Letitia James
The National Rifle Association has withdrawn its federal lawsuit against New York Attorney General Letitia James, where it alleges she violated the organization's constitutional right and asks for a jury to determine it's been operating lawfully in the state. © Alex Wong/Getty Images NATIONAL HARBOR, MD - FEBRUARY 24: Executive Vice President of the National Rifle Association Wayne LaPierre speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center February 24, 2017 in National Harbor, Maryland.
“The NRA built up an impressive mountain of power over the course of 40 years. And despite their recent fall from grace, that power doesn't disappear overnight,” Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said in an interview.
Not to say there is no hope for gun control — far from it, said Murphy, whose own views are shaped by the, and the subsequent (successful) effort by the NRA to stop gun legislation in the aftermath.
He said Democratic gains in Congress, despite the efforts by the NRA to stop candidates, are one measure of a change in the dynamic. Another is a shift in some public opinion.found the percentage of people viewing the NRA favorably dropping below 50% for only the second time in three decades.
“There’s no doubt that their political muscle is reduced,” Murphy said. “The Georgia special elections are a pretty clear indication of that. Democrats who support universal background checks are winning all over the country, including in states where you would have thought the NRA had a stranglehold.”
NRA drops countersuit against New York attorney general
The National Rifle Association dropped its counter lawsuit in federal court against New York Attorney General Letitia James. © Provided by Washington Examiner Attorneys for the Second Amendment advocacy organization filed the court papers on Friday. Instead, they said they will focus on fighting the Democratic prosecutor's attempt to dissolve the NRA in state court in Manhattan.
One of Biden’swas on gun control. On Monday, the Justice Department announced model legislation for red-flag laws, which permit police to ask for the removal of firearms from people who may present a danger to themselves or others.
In March,requiring background checks on all firearms sales and transfers and allowing an expanded 10-day review for gun purchases. But the legislation faces strong headwinds in the Senate, with some Republican support required for passage.
At the same time, though, the NRA has been growing, with 225,000 additional dues-paying members since January, its ranks now swelling to more than 5 million. Its embattled leader, Wayne LaPierre, has led the fund-raising efforts for nearly three decades, selling himself as an aggressive guardian of the Second Amendment right to bear arms.
He positioned the lobby as the major antagonizer of Democratic administrations. Then, in 2016, the organization spent more than $30 million on behalf of Donald Trump's campaign, according to Federal Election Commission data. The effort paid off — after back-to-back mass shootings inand Trump seemed inclined to take action on extensive background checks but backed off after a phone call with the NRA.
Just like COVID-19, gun violence is a public health crisis
As we have fought tirelessly together to put an end to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is time that we end the public health crisis that is gun violence. We have the collective power to create safer communities and shift away from the violence that we experience today to ensure a better tomorrow and beyond. Now is the time to take true action to honor the lives of those lost.Greg Jackson is the national advocacy director for Community Justice Action Fund.
But those successes were happening while the NRA was having major problems within. By 2018, the organization had a $36 million deficit due to lavish spending. A class action lawsuit by members over mismanagement and a lack of transparency followed in 2019. And then, Democratic New York Attorney General Letitia James, arguing it was “fraught with fraud and abuse.” In D.C., the attorney general sued over improper diversion of funds.
The NRA filed for bankruptcy in January. During the trial, an embarrassing deposition by LaPierre emerged in which he said he’d borrowed a friend’s 108-foot yacht to hide multiple times between 2013 and 2018 after threats following multiple mass shootings.
Even with that inner turmoil, the NRA has also been behind hundreds of successful efforts to loosen gun laws in the states — most recently working to persuade states to abandon requirements that people get training and pass background checks to carry concealed handguns.
Six states have passed legislation removing or weakening concealed-carry permit requirements this year, most recently Texas. About 20 states now allow people to carry concealed weapons without a license.
The story behind Hong Kong's Jardine Noonday Gun
Every day at noon, a large antique gun is fired in Hong Kong. No, this has nothing to do with war, protests or conflict. The Jardine Noonday Gun is about history with a side of charitable goodness. It gets its name from its owner, the Jardine Matheson Company, which was founded in the early 1830s. The powerful Hong Kong-based conglomerate, which has interests in everything from retail and real estate to automobiles, is known for its dramatic window-dotted skyscraper on Victoria Harbour -- just a few kilometers away from where the gun is perched on the calmer waters of the Causeway Bay typhoon shelter.
Four more states have passed legislation banning police from enforcing federal gun laws, a preemptive shot at any new measures passed by Democrats.
The NRA is far from the only pro-gun group at the table in state legislatures now. In Utah, one of the first states to remove permit requirements this year, it was just one of at least six gun rights groups speaking in favor of the bill at the Capitol — and it wasn’t the most outspoken one.
The number of generally pro-gun rights states outnumbers those that pass gun control measures 40 to 10, although the latter have more people, so the country’s population is about evenly divided between the two camps.found the number of Americans who favor stricter gun laws has declined this year to 53%, down from 60% in September 2019.
“Gun rights, the Second Amendment, the right to keep and bear arms is bigger than any organization,” said Jordan Stein, communications director for the Gun Owners of America, one such group.
Gun owners would continue fighting if the organizations who often help them organize and coordinate around the issue were gone, he said.
Recent gun sales suggest a new zeal for owning a weapon. Gun dealers sold more than 2 million firearms in January, a 75% increase over the same month last year and the biggest-selling January on record, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, an industry trade group. The FBI, meanwhile, reported 4.3 million firearm-related background checks, the highest monthly total since the system was created over two decades ago.
The Backstory: Our investigation found the ATF goes easy on problematic gun dealers. Here's how we did it.
Reporters found dealers that sold weapons to convicted felons and domestic abusers, lied to investigators and falsified records to hide their actions. "In many cases when the ATF caught dealers breaking the law," the story found, "the agency issued warnings, sometimes repeatedly, and allowed the stores to operate for months or years. Others are still selling guns to this day." The investigation was a partnership between USA TODAY and The Trace, an independent newsroom that reports on gun violence.
While the NRA is easily the best known gun lobby, Josh Horwitz, the executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, said the real players are the state gun groups.
“The groups that work at the state level are much more powerful than they used to be," Horwitz said. "Even if the NRA went away tomorrow, and it may, (Senate Republican leader) Mitch McConnell is still going to be checking in with whatever the Kentucky gun rights alliance is, and the Ohio legislature is going to be checking in with the Buckeye Firearms Association.
“We’re in a generational battle," he added. "Guns in America is going to be a big fight for a long time.”
Despite its troubles, the NRA remains confident in its prowess.
The organization, which in January reported total assets of about $203 million, liabilities of about $153 million and $31 million in bank loans, said in court papers it saw revenues drop about 7% because of the coronavirus pandemic. To cut costs, it laid off dozens of employees and canceled its national convention.
Last month, a federal judge in Dallas dealt another blow to the lobby when he, because he found it was not filed in good faith.
But it has also balanced its budget and is again in the black after years of deficits.
“Coupled with our typical excellent report card on legal and legislative advances and wins, the record is clear: the NRA is as strong and effective as ever as we confront President Biden’s anti-gun agenda," said Andrew Arulanandam, the NRA'S managing director for public affairs.
"Any suggestion to the contrary is wishful thinking from our adversaries.”
Associated Press writers Gary Fields and Lindsay Whitehurst in Salt Lake City contributed to this report.
Mississippi: Ex-lawmaker killed near home of slain relative .
WATER VALLEY, Miss. (AP) — A former Mississippi lawmaker was found shot to death during the weekend in a rural area outside the burned home where her sister-in-law was found dead after Christmas. Ashley Henley, 40, was a Republican who served in the state House from January 2016 to January 2020 from a district in DeSoto County. The North Mississippi Herald was first to report that Henley's body was found Sunday night in rural Yalobusha County, about 70 miles (115 kilometers) south of DeSoto County.Her body was outside the home where the body of her sister-in-law Kristina Michelle Jones was found Dec. 26.