What To Know Today

The NRA is bringing in less money — and spending more on legal fees — as members jump ship. That’s the big picture assessment from an August 2021 financial document prepared for the NRA Finance Committee that was obtained by The Reload. At $165 million through August, the NRA’s revenue had fallen by close to half since 2018 and was nearly $20 million short of its own projections for last year. Declining membership dues played a big factor in the revenue drop as overall membership also fell to the lowest level since 2017. Meanwhile, legal fees made up some 20 percent of all expenses, coming in at $31 million in total. Major cost cutting: The organization had a budget surplus through the fall, but it achieved that by spending less. The bulk of costs covered acquiring members and legal expenses. Brian Mittendorf, an accounting professor at The Ohio State University who has studied the NRA’s finances, said the financial documents show an organization that has seen a “remarkable” financial decline since 2016. “Their budget is sustainable, but at what point do members see a huge chunk of the money is going towards legal costs and the primary programs have really been gutted?” he told The Reload. In a statement to The Reload, NRA spokesperson Amy Hunter said the report in question was “outdated” and “unaudited,” while adding that it is, “as objective observers agree, very positive.” Hunter in part blamed the pandemic for the NRA’s financial position.

The White House releases new priorities on gun violence prevention. Ahead of President Joe Biden’s trip to discuss public safety strategy with New York Mayor Eric Adams, the White House unveiled more details about its plan to tackle gun violence. The announced changes largely involve shifting existing resources and finding different ways for federal agencies to prioritize goals the administration has already emphasized. Among other steps, the Department of Justice announced it was directing every U.S. attorney’s office to focus more on prosecuting violent crime and gun trafficking at the local level, as well as training prosecutors to pursue charges related to ghost guns. While the major gun reform groups praised the announcement, some smaller gun violence prevention groups were frustrated by a lack of concrete new steps. “I just don’t feel it’s particularly productive for us to express awe at an entirely recycled plan that does not reflect everything the president can and should be doing to tackle this crisis,” Igor Volsky, the executive director of Guns Down America, told The Trace. 

New ATF secure storage requirement for gun dealers goes into effect. The rule, which was submitted with the Federal Register for publication last month, implements and codifies existing requirements from the amended Gun Control Act of 1968. Specifically, it requires federal firearm licensees to certify that they have safe storage options that are compatible with the firearms they are selling, and that those options are available to customers. 

Rhetoric vs. reality: Chicago gun recoveries point to questions about police data. The city’s police chief spoke frequently last year about efforts to take illegal guns off the streets, claiming that the department had recovered more than 12,000 illegal guns through the year. But an investigation by WGN found that police couldn’t actually account for nearly that many, and that the number of firearms officers retrieved from their district was likely far less. A CPD statement attributed the discrepancy to voluntary turn-in events and other methods of receiving weapons besides recovering them from crime scenes. However, the WGN investigation further found that record-keeping issues within CPD meant the department couldn’t account for even some of the weapons it did recover. 

Pennsylvania governor vetoes bill strengthening the state’s preemption law. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, made due on his pledge to reject the attempt by the state Legislature to make it easier for gun owners and gun rights organizations to collect damages in court from municipalities that were found to violate a state law preventing municipalities from passing stricter local gun laws. Gun rights groups have long complained that the state’s preemption law isn’t adequately enforced. 

Data Point

Just over 4.5 million — the current NRA membership, according to the leaked financial statements from August. The organization claimed in 2018 that it had 6 million members, but the newly obtained document shows an apparent high between 5 million and 5.5 million for that year. [The Reload]