The Rise and Fall of the NRA

It started as a hunting group — but today the NRA is practically unrecognizable from its inception almost 150 years ago.

Student-led Demonstrations Around the U.S. Lead to NRA Financial Free Fall

How did the NRA go from a hunting and shooting group to gaining 5.5 million members millions of dollars in income massive political influence — then an organization in “grave danger?” In 1871 - The National Rifle Association is founded by former Union generals to support hunters, sportsmen, target shooters after the Civil War. 1968 - President Lyndon Johnson signs the Gun Control Act of 1968 regulating the sale of firearms. From 1975 – 1976, After decades as a nonpartisan organization, the NRA establishes a lobbying arm, and a political action committee in part to campaign against gun sale restrictions. 1999 - Fortune Magazine calls the NRA the most powerful lobbying organizationin the United States. April 20, 1999 - A shooting at Columbine High School sparks countrywide debates about gun control. 2016 - The NRA spends over $400 million supporting Donald Trump and other Republican candidates — it’s highest election cycle spending ever.

17 students are killed in a shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. February 17, 2018 Parkland student Emma González becomes an overnight celebrity-activist with her “We Call BS” speech. Over the next few months, the Parkland students build a grassroots campaign against the NRA and in favor of gun control. Over 1 million people attend March For Our Lives — a series of student-led demonstrations around the U.S. protesting gun violence. Months of public pressure lead companies like Avis, Delta, and Fedex to sever their financial ties with the NRA.

The NRA reports losing $55 million in income for the year. A fundraising letter, NRA Chief Executive Wayne Lappierre warns of the group's dire financials. A public feud between NRA president Oliver North and Lappierre leads to North stepping down. New York Attorney General Letitita James launches an investigation into the NRA’s finances. The NRA is forced to shut down its online media arm and an NRA lobbyist reports that the organization is in “grave danger.”