The release of tax records for the Second Amendment organization has the press in a misinformed lather.

 

Oh, our media media complex never fails to deliver mirth, as it fails to deliver the facts. As much as they recoil at any suggestion of generating fake news, or delivering a contrived narrative, our media betters continuously manage to display themselves as practitioners of those very accusations. It would be sad and pathetic if it were not so amusing.

The latest involves the release of the tax records from the National Rifle Association, and the outright giddiness displayed regarding the detail that the NRA showed a drop in revenues. There are a number of factors behind this and for many in the press it was reason to celebrate. Problem is, there was a lack of perspective involved.

At the Daily Beast Lachlan Markay sounded rather ebullient, with the sub-header The gun-rights group has its biggest champion in the White House. But its financial situation has worsened in the age of Trump. The article is under the category “Shooting Blanks”.

At Politico they managed to point to another issue, with a headline declaring, “NRA’s fortunes fell as gun-control groups gained power.” Many on social media have been gleeful at the announcement, taking a stance that this is a sign of a weakening group, or even that the non-profit is losing money.

At issue here is that the IRS filing for the organization shows a drop in revenues, to the tune of $55 million lower than the year before. However saying that anti-gun groups are responsible is, well — a stretch. As Politico notes, Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown saw an uptick to $28 million in revenues.

Significant, let’s say, but does this reflect what Markay claims is a “dwindling base of public support” for the NRA? Hardly. That same period the gun rights group took in over $300 million. That dip in revenue was practically double of what Everytown took in. The NRA’s advocacy group, the Institute for Legislative Action, alone spent $27 million in activities, nearly the entire annual revenue of Everytown.

What needs to be clarified for some — this was the filing for fiscal year 2017. It does not reflect any of the most current social acts — Politico’s Lorraine Woellert for example mentioned Parkland, even as that transpired in February 2018. It is also important to peer back, and measure the reported figures against the previous years’ influences.

The reaction for many is to frame these numbers against the activities of this year, except that is hardly an accurate assessment. Following the Parkland shooting, and the ensuing media storm of publicity the students received, the NRA actually saw an explosion of support. In March, following the media push and the formation of March For Our Lives, donations and membership spiked. The following month it set 15 year high marks for donations and memberships.

There are two primary reasons 2017 would experience a drop in revenues. During the previous years President Obama had spent much time giving lip service to combating the NRA and desiring for limitations on gun rights. In response many people turned to the NRA to fight for their rights, and the organization had years of hefty donations.

The secondary reason was the 2016 election. With many fearing a Hillary Clinton administration would sweep into power and further threaten the Second Amendment there was a spike in activity to combat the threat (real, or perceived). It stands to reason that 2017 being an off-election year, and one with a supportive gun-owning President in the White House, would see fewer people driven to look for a supportive group focused on their interest.

Those celebrating a revenue drop today are missing the crucial details. It is a bit of wishcasting to suggest last year’s filing represents a loss of interest or influence today. In fact, that very reaction is helping the NRA in ways they are in denial as taking place.