The National Rifle Association’s political action committee raised more funds in the first half of 2019 than gun control PACs did, filings show.
The NRA’s committee, the National Rifle Association of America Political Victory Fund, hovered slightly below the fundraising levels it saw at this point during its record-breaking cycle of 2013-2014. The PAC pulled in a total of $21.9 million throughout that cycle. It raised $8.3 million from the start of the cycle through July 2013.
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Through the first seven months of 2019, the NRA’s PAC reported $6.7 million in contributions with multiple months surpassing $1 million in donations. An overwhelming majority of the PAC’s money—$5.7 million—came from unitemized contributions, or small dollar donors who gave $200 or less to the committee. Individuals who contributed more than $200 to the PAC accounted for $970,000 of the PAC’s totals.
The NRA’s PAC pulled in more than twice the amount any gun control committee did so far this year. The Giffords PAC, for example, reports $3.3 million in receipts through July. Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety Victory Fund, an independent-expenditures-only PAC, has one donation of $5,000, which came from the group’s victory fund. It did not report any actual donors yet this cycle.
Compared to the organizations’ nonprofit entities, the PACs are only small components of the NRA and gun control groups. PACs, however, have much stricter reporting requirements on both their fundraising and spending.
The strong fundraising numbers come during a period of turmoil at the NRA, as well as calls for strict new gun control and even confiscation from Democrats.
An internal NRA struggle emerged earlier this year when then-NRA president Oliver North accused NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre of using NRA money for inappropriate spending on suits and personal travel. In response, LaPierre accused North of attempting to extort him into resigning. The fight led to the ouster of North as well as Chris Cox, longtime head of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, and has resulted in protest resignations from some NRA board members. Some NRA members have promised to withhold donations to the group until LaPierre and other NRA leaders step down or adopt internal reforms.
At the same time, Democratic congressmen and presidential candidates have increased calls for new gun control measures. The Democrat-controlled House has passed two gun control measures this year. The House Judiciary Committee passed three more this week despite dim prospects the Republican-controlled Senate will take up any of the bills.
Democrats in the primary have made a wide range of proposals like bans on the sale of certain guns and ammunition magazines. Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (Texas) has even declared he would confiscate the most popular rifles in the United States.
“Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47,” he said during Thursday night’s debate. “We’re not going to allow it to be used against our fellow Americans anymore.”
Sens. Cory Booker (N.J.) and Kamala Harris (Calif.) also expressed support for the idea.
It’s unclear what impact, if any, the calls for boycotts or gun confiscation have had on NRA fundraising because those numbers will not be released for several months.
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