The National Rifle Association is weakened. Last month, after years of revenue and membership declines, the group and its longtime boss and fundraising talisman Wayne LaPierre were found liable in a civil corruption case. Although LaPierre resigned on the eve of trial, jurors ruled that his misconduct had been egregious enough to warrant removal.

The NRA still has no equal in the gun rights movement. Its revenue of $211 million in 2022, the last year for which figures are available, far surpasses the sums that other gun groups have historically collected, but nonetheless marked a continued contraction. 

The gun rights movement, however, has always been bigger than the NRA. Today, it continues to advance, as the spread of permitless carry to a majority of states demonstrates. While the movement and its leadership remain largely white and male, smaller groups for Black, Latino, LGBTQ, liberal, and women gun owners have channeled press attention to the movement’s diversity. An array of larger, national organizations has moved in to fill the void created by the NRA’s collapse. To an extent, these groups have benefited from disaffected NRA members joining their ranks, but their growth is also linked to the greater popularity of personal defense carry and a hardening of the movement’s more radical, explicitly anti-government flank.

Here are some of the more notable gun interest groups on the rise.

Kevin Whipple

Name: United States Concealed Carry Association

Focus: Personal defense liability insurance and firearms training

Leader: Tim Schmidt

Annual revenues in 2022: Unknown (USSCA is privately held)

This Wisconsin-based group, founded in 2003, gained ground by pitching itself as relatively apolitical. Rather than fulminating in the style of the NRA, the USCCA has stressed the necessity of armed personal defense, and celebrated carrying a gun as an act of love for one’s family. Members get insurance to cover legal costs that may arise from the lawful use of a gun.

The editor of the association’s magazine told NPR in 2019 that 40 percent of members identified as Democrats. “We are not divisive; we are not exclusive,” he said. “We want everyone who wants to defend themselves to be part of this organization and to learn from us.” (The group did not respond to a request for more current estimates.) At the time of the report, the group had over 300,000 members, and founder Tim Schmidt said that he was focused on reaching 1 million. The organization appears to be nearing that mark. During the pandemic gun buying surge, it saw rapid growth and now reports over 800,000 members.

USCCA revenue figures are not public. But it’s clear that the model is potentially lucrative. The cost of the middle-tier annual membership multiplied by 800,000 is nearly $320 million. If that figure is anywhere near accurate, revenue in recent years well exceeds the NRA’s.

The group has expanded lately in ways that may strain its relatively nonpartisan brand. In 2021, the USCCA created a political action committee that collected $2.5 million through the 2022 election cycle. And in September of 2023, it formed a nonprofit advocacy arm.

Kevin Whipple

Name: Second Amendment Foundation

Focus: Litigation

Leader: Alan Gottlieb

Annual revenues in 2022: $6.8 million

The Washington State-based SAF was founded by Alan Gottlieb in 1974. Active in national conservative circles since the 1970s, Gottlieb is known for direct-mail and marketing savvy, and for cashing in on conservative causes through a network of private companies that have business arrangements with his advocacy groups. (The state Attorney General’s Office in Washington is investigating Gottlieb, who maintains that the inquiry is politically motivated.)

The foundation is a singular force in Second Amendment litigation, challenging gun laws nationwide at a clip that far surpasses other gun groups. Since 2018, the SAF has initiated at least 75 gun rights lawsuits in federal district courts. The NRA has filed 30 federal actions in the same period, a publicly accessible case catalog indicates, but they overwhelmingly involved business and regulatory disputes.

As The Trace reported in 2022, Gottlieb allowed a dissident NRA board member to use an advocacy group he’d founded as a fundraising arm in a campaign to overhaul NRA leadership.

One dividing line in the gun rights movement is between those who recognize the legitimacy of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and those who seek its demise. The SAF straddles this divide. Its lobbying arm, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, has long employed Mark Barnes, a lobbyist with unparalleled access at the ATF. It also publishes anti-agency polemics with headlines like, “A warning to ATF: We will never forget your crimes.”

The SAF has seen revenue increase from $4.8 million to $6.8 million from 2018 to 2022.   

Kevin Whipple

Name: Firearms Policy Coalition

Focus: Litigation

Leader: Brandon Combs

Annual revenues in 2022: $5.3 million

Alan Gottlieb helped establish the Firearms Policy Coalition in 2013, with the goal of creating a new generation of gun rights warriors. A frequent SAF partner and co-plaintiff, the FPC’s revenue leapt from $651,000 in 2018 to $5.3 million in 2022. Include a related foundation’s revenue and the 2022 figure is $7.4 million. It is strident, even by gun world standards, and deeply libertarian.

Unlike the NRA and other legacy gun rights groups, the coalition does not venerate law enforcement. It is skeptical of government power. In its literature and on social media, the group emphasizes the primacy of natural rights, including what it insists is the essentially inviolable right to bear arms in self-defense. The coalition does not see democracy as an end; it’s merely one means by which populations organize themselves. And it’s a flawed strategy because, in a democracy, some must forgo a measure of liberty in the interest of collective self-government.

On the FPC website, you can purchase a coalition-branded ‘Abolish the ATF’ T-shirt, or if you prefer, one that declares, ‘Stack Up or Fuck Off,’ a frequent coalition riposte on social media. The phrase is an earthier variant of “Come and Take Them,” a dated gun rights slogan.

Kevin Whipple

Name: National Shootings Sports Foundation

Focus: Lobbying

Leader: Joe Bartozzi

Annual revenues in 2022: $53 million

This firearms industry trade group was founded in 1961. Its mission is to boost the profits of members, who largely consist of manufacturers, gun retailers, and ranges. Executives from large firearms producers who control much of the civilian market and hold billions of dollars in government contracts have populated the foundation’s board.

The group’s revenue, which comes chiefly from its annual Shot Show in Las Vegas, grew to $53 million in 2022 from $44 million in 2018. Its PAC saw receipts double from $435,000 in the 2018 election cycle to $854,000 in 2022. The group has consistently spent more lobbying in recent years than the NRA, shelling out $5.4 million in 2023 compared to the NRA’s $2.3 million.

During the Trump administration, the NSSF successfully lobbied to have regulation of overseas sales shifted from the State Department to the Commerce Department, a move sought by gun export interests. It has recently become more active in the courts, hiring former solicitor general and star Supreme Court litigator Paul Clement to, among other tasks, challenge state laws that are designed to side-step legal protections enjoyed by the firearms industry.

The NSSF has also allied with fossil fuel interests and other like-minded parties to ensure access to financial services and markets as progressives push for investing guardrails that reflect social welfare and environmental concerns. Some states, for instance, have divested their public pension funds of firearms stocks. The battle against such measures was a major topic of the third annual state governors’ forum at the NSSF’s most recent Shot Show.

Kevin Whipple

Name: Gun Owners of America

Known for: Its “no compromise” brand

Leader: Erich Pratt

Annual revenue in 2022: $7 million

Established in 1976, GOA has long styled itself as a more radical, no-compromise alternative to the NRA. For decades it was led by Larry Pratt, who espouses Biblical rule over civil society. Pratt moved in militia and white supremacist circles in the 1990s, but has denied being a racist.

Pratt’s son, Erich, now leads the GOA, which has recently become stronger. The group saw revenue grow from $4.8 million in 2018 to $7 million in 2022. Its spending on lobbying increased every year from 2018 to 2022, going from $1.5 million to $3.3 million. Last year, the figure dropped to $2.7 million — which was still more than what the NRA spent.

The organization is more active in Second Amendment litigation than the NRA, but is not as significant a player in the federal courts as the SAF. It often brings suits against the FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies. Its most recent suit against the FBI is an attempt to shake loose internal assessments of extremist groups, particularly those that detail the visual symbols and imagery that the FBI believes the groups employ. The suit was apparently spurred by an exchange in which Senator Ted Cruz grilled FBI Director Christopher Wray.

Attorney William J. Olson represents GOA in the suit and has long been a counsel for the group. Olson, who promoted a conspiracy theory that Vice President Kamala Harris is not eligible for her office, advised former President Donald Trump on ways to subvert the 2020 election. 

The organization, which claims to have 2 million members, recently announced that it plans to hold its first convention in Knoxville, Tennessee, this August.

Kevin Whipple

Name: National Association for Gun Rights

Known for: Criticism of other gun groups

Leader: Dudley Brown

Annual revenues in 2022: $10.4 million

Another group that touts its total opposition to firearms regulation, the association was founded by Dudley Brown, a firebrand known to attack other gun rights organizations for allegedly making concessions to hostile forces. An SAF press release from 2014 described Brown, who also founded Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, a Colorado-based group, as “a political bomb-throwing bully whose stock in trade is to incite distrust and discontent within the ranks of the gun rights movement, to enhance his own fund-raising efforts and power base.”

The movement has no shortage of such provocateurs.

Association revenue fluctuates considerably, with a recent high of $15.6 million in 2021. The $10.4 million it collected in 2022 is the group’s median revenue amount over the last decade.