Revenue at the National Rifle Association fell by $54 million in 2017, a 15 percent decline that coincided with a record number of mass shootings in the U.S. and a rise in spending by gun-control groups.
The gun-rights group posted an even steeper drop in membership dues, which fell 22 percent, or $35 million, to a five-year low, according to documents the NRA filed with the Internal Revenue Service this month.
The group directed $27 million to its political arm, the Institute for Legislative Action, down from 2016, a presidential election year in which the institute spent more than $76 million.
Advocacy groups frequently post lower receipts in non-election years and revenue totals can fluctuate wildly from year to year, and NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam called the 2017 tax document a dated snapshot of the group’s activity.
As evidence of the group’s political clout, he pointed to this year’s jump in NRA magazine subscribers, nearly all of them dues-paying members.
“The NRA has approximately 5.5 million dues paying members today — the highest level ever in the history of our Association,” Arulanandam said in a written statement. “The historical fact is nobody has fought for and produced results in defending Second Amendment rights and American values like the NRA.”
While gun-control groups continue to lag behind the NRA’s behemoth budget and grassroots organization, they’ve redoubled their political and fundraising efforts after a spike in the number of mass shootings and are on track to outspend gun-rights advocates in the 2018 midterm elections, according to an analysis from the Center for Responsive
“This is the first election cycle in history that gun-control groups outspent gun-rights groups,” said Anna Massoglia, a researcher with the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit watchdog group. “It’s not really clear what it means yet.”