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NRA holds convention, has lobbying money after Texas school shooting

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Wayne LaPierre, executive Vice President of the National Rifle Association speaks on the Conservative Political Motion Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida, U.S. February 28, 2021.

Joe Skipper | Reuters

The National Rifle Association has a bevy of money at its disposal to influence the gun policy debate after the most recent shooting massacre of schoolchildren in Texas, despite financial stress and internal turmoil which have reduced the group’s reach.

The NRA went ahead this week with its annual convention in Houston, days after a gunman shot 19 children and two adults dead lower than a five-hour drive away in Uvalde. Reflecting the group’s continued clout, former President Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and other national GOP figures will go ahead with plans to talk at a forum hosted by the NRA’s lobbying arm on Friday afternoon.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is not going to speak as planned, as he’ll return to Uvalde. Lt Gov. Dan Patrick also dropped out of speaking on the NRA meeting, saying he wouldn’t want his appearance to “bring any additional pain or grief” to families of the victims.

Gun safety advocates who’ve called for brand new restrictions in response to mass shootings this month in Texas and Buffalo, Latest York — including President Joe Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer — have renewed their criticism of the NRA for opposing repeated efforts to tighten firearm regulations to try and curb carnage across the country. While the NRA’s power has taken successful lately, financial filings and lobbying disclosures show the group still has the means to attempt to influence gun policy talks in the approaching weeks — together with the midterm elections that may determine which party controls Congress next 12 months.

The NRA will likely wade into the policy discussion as senators restart gun control talks and key midterm races unfold across the country. Lawmakers are deliberating a wide selection of gun measures. Proposals include a national “red flag” law, which could allow police or members of the family to petition a court to order the temporary removal of firearms from an individual deemed dangerous, and measures that might strengthen gun background checks.

A spokeswoman for the NRA didn’t return a request for comment.

The NRA’s 501(c)(4) organization, which by law can lobby, went into 2021 with nearly $50 million in net assets, based on records. In the primary quarter of this 12 months, nearly a dozen NRA representatives including the group’s CEO, Wayne LaPierre, engaged with the federal government on gun-related bills. The NRA spent greater than $620,000 on lobbying through the quarter.

The organization spent probably the most it ever has on lobbying in a single quarter last 12 months, only a couple of months after it announced in January 2021 that it was filing for bankruptcy and planned to maneuver its operations from Latest York to Texas. The NRA spent greater than $2 million through the second quarter of 2021 lobbying Congress and the Biden administration on gun reform bills, a disclosure report shows.

The gun group’s separate 501(c)(3) called the NRA Foundation, which cannot lobby but holds events on topics including gun safety and marksmanship, entered 2021 with greater than $140 million in net assets, based on that group’s 990 form. That organization’s sponsorship program allows supporters to present money, and, if donors contribute $1,500 or more, they will receive a gun.

Gun-control advocates hold a vigil outside of the National Rifle Association (NRA) headquarters following the recent mass shooting at Robb Elementary School on May 25, 2022 in Fairfax, Virginia.

Kevin Dietsch | Getty Images

The NRA’s political motion committee had greater than $15 million available going into May, based on a Federal Election Commission filing. The PAC gave nearly $70,000 last month to Republicans running for office within the 2022 midterms.

The NRA committee gave $4,000 to GOP candidates in Texas in April. Reps. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, and Ronny Jackson, R-Texas, each received $1,000 from the NRA’s PAC. Texas congressional hopefuls Wesley Hunt and Morgan Luttrell also received the identical amount.

Representatives for those candidates didn’t reply to questions on whether their campaigns will proceed to just accept money from the NRA.

As voters solid their ballots in primary elections across the country, senators began talks this week on which gun reforms could get through the chamber in a bipartisan vote.

A latest Politico/Morning Seek the advice of poll taken the day after the Texas shooting shows broad support for a few of the gun policy changes Congress has considered up to now. About three-fourths of respondents, or 73%, said they strongly support background checks on all gun sales, while one other 15% said they somewhat support the proposal.

Over half, or 53%, of those polled said they strongly support banning assault-style weapons. One other 14% said they somewhat support banning those firearms.

The NRA has said it opposes expanding gun background check systems, and has often spoken out against measures like assault weapons bans.

The group has spread its messaging widely in recent days. The NRA’s Facebook ads, which launched last week, are still lively, based on the social media giant’s ad library. One in every of the lively NRA ads has an image of Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, with a message of “Don’t allow them to take your guns.”

It leads viewers to an internet petition to Congress that reads, partly, “I demand that Congress vote down every bill, every treaty, every resolution, and each amendment that will infringe upon my Second Amendment rights in any way.”

While the greater than 5 million-member NRA has played a large role in shaping the country’s gun culture and policy for many years, the interior turmoil has left it weaker.

The NRA’s bankruptcy announcement got here after Latest York Attorney General Letitia James sued the organization, aiming to dissolve it entirely. Her office claimed that current and former executives, including LaPierre, used NRA funds for their very own personal gain, resulting in the group losing greater than $64 million in three years.

In March 2021, a federal judge dismissed the NRA’s bid to hunt bankruptcy protection, allowing James’ suit to go forward.

A judge ruled in March of this 12 months that James’ suit couldn’t shut down the NRA entirely, but additionally allowed the litigation to proceed.

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The group may have the continued support of a key advisor that helped it weather its recent financial and legal troubles. Brewer, Attorneys & Counselors, a law firm that has long represented the NRA, has no plans to stop doing business with the gun lobbying group, it told CNBC.

Brewer, Attorneys & Counselors is certainly one of the firms that has represented the NRA within the legal fight with James’ office. The NRA paid the firm a complete of greater than $40 million in 2019 and 2020, probably the most recent years for which 990 tax forms are publicly available.

The firm said in an announcement that echoed the NRA’s repeated suggestion that mental illness greater than the provision of firearms results in mass shootings, that it should “honor our commitments to the Association, its leadership, and hundreds of thousands of law-abiding members.” The statement was sent in an email by the firm’s spokesman, Travis Carter.

“This was an incomprehensible tragedy – the act of a deranged person. We extend our prayers and deepest sympathies to the victims, their families and this complete community. We also join others in the decision to supply protection in our schools – to make them protected and secure,” the statement read.

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