• Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Why the NRA's Struggles Won't Change Gun Debate, for Now

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

The National Rifle Association's recent bankruptcy filing and legal battles have given hope to groups fighting for gun reform.

Video Transcript

- Ladies and gentlemen, the next president of the United States, Donald Trump.

ANDREW RAFFERTY: A lot has changed for the National Rifle Association since pouring millions into Donald Trump's successful 2016 campaign.

- The National Rifle Association has filed for bankruptcy in federal court.

ANDREW RAFFERTY: A bankruptcy filing, scandals and legal battles-- plaguing what has, for decades, been one of the most powerful forces in politics-- have given gun control advocates renewed hope that something can get done in Congress.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL: Our opponents are on their heels. The NRA declaring financial and, really, moral bankruptcy. And we have, maybe most important, a powerful grassroots movement that has produced results at the polls, wins for members of Congress.

ANDREW RAFFERTY: Just over four years ago, the NRA was one of the nation's top outside political spending groups, endorsing Trump and putting nearly $55 million into the 2016 elections. The rise of gun control groups ahead of the 2018 midterms resulted in the NRA being outspent by its opponents for the first time. It retook the spending advantage in 2020, but with a sum considerably smaller than that of four years earlier.

WAYNE LAPIERRE: Under the protection of the US bankruptcy code, the NRA is creating a blueprint that will allow us to continue as one of the leading civil rights organizations in the world.

ANDREW RAFFERTY: The NRA did not respond to Newsy's questions about the group's future. But even if the NRA's influence is dwindling, the importance of protecting gun rights has not waned for many who make up the voting base in the Republican Party.

MATTHEW LACOMBE: Even with an organizationally-weakened NRA, the mass-level support that the NRA has built around gun rights still exists. And so there still may be electoral consequences for Republicans for supporting gun control.

ANDREW RAFFERTY: That means the biggest hurdle to any gun legislation still exists-- getting Republican support. Still, there may be room for optimism for gun control advocates, between the growth of outside groups countering the NRA's message, as well as questions about the Republican party's future after Trump.

MATTHEW LACOMBE: I do think that there are more openings for gun control than in the past. I do think that that the split that's occurred within the Republican Party between sort of Trump wing and the non-Trump wing, if that split grows, it may provide some openings for some sort of moderate Republican members of the Senate to support gun control.

ANDREW RAFFERTY: Andrew Rafferty, Newsy, Washington.