Heaher Cox Richardson posted a lengthy (1147 words) story about the NRA last night.
Here are some key points:
The NRA was chartered in New York in 1871, in part to improve the marksmanship of Americans who might be called on to fight another war, and in part to promote in America the British sport of elite shooting. By the 1920's, rifle shooting was a popular sport.
In the 1930's, amid fears of organized crime, the NRA backed federal legislation to limit concealed weapons, prevent possession by criminals, the mentally ill and children, to require all dealers to be licensed, and to require background checks before delivery.
The NRA backed the 1934 National Firearms Act, and parts of the 1968 Gun Control Act, designed to stop what seemed to be America’s hurtle toward violence in that turbulent decade.
But in the mid-1970s, a faction in the NRA forced the organization away from sports and toward opposing “gun control.” It formed a political action committee in 1975, and two years later elected a president who abandoned sporting culture and focused instead on “gun rights.”
The NRA had gone into politics. Its officials now opposed all limits on gun ownership, even though basic safety measures have always been popular, even within the NRA’s own membership. In 1980, the NRA endorsed a presidential candidate for the first time ever, standing behind Ronald Reagan. Now a player in national politics, the NRA was awash in money from gun and ammunition manufacturers. By 2000, the NRA was one of the three most powerful lobbies in Washington. It spent more than $40 million on the 2008 election.
In 2016, donations to the NRA jumped sharply. While in 2012, it spent $9 million, and in 2014 it spent $13 million, in 2016, it spent more than $50 million on Republican candidates, including more than $30 million on Trump’s effort to win the White House. This money was vital to Trump, since many other Republican super PACs refused to back him. The NRA spent more money on Trump than any other outside group, including the leading Trump super PAC, which spent $20.3 million.
Erickson promised to help Butina gain access to Republican lawmakers. When federal investigators began to monitor Butina, he came to their attention, and they discovered his businesses were designed to defraud investors. In November 2019, Erickson pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering in an unrelated case. Last month, he was sentenced to seven years in federal prison.
But when their NRA scheme was still intact, Butina and Torshin attended NRA annual meetings and other NRA events at the invitation of its leaders, who invited the two to events like the National Prayer Breakfast, where they could meet Republican lawmakers. In turn, Butina and Torshin invited NRA leaders to Moscow, where they met with leaders who promised lucrative business opportunities with Russian oligarchs, including the opportunity to produce weapons for the Russian military. Some of the Russians they met were under sanctions from the U.S. government.
In September 2019, the Democrats on the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance outlined the work of Butina and Torshin in the U.S., and called the NRA “a foreign asset.”
Butina served 15 months in the Tallahassee Federal Correction Institution before being deported to Moscow.
There is at least some reason to wonder if the sudden jump in NRA donations in 2016 had something to do with the Russian oligarchs who were talking with its leaders.
In 2015, the NRA had a surplus of almost $28 million. By 2018, it was running a $36 million deficit.
Asked to comment, Trump said “That’s a very terrible thing that just happened. I think the NRA should move to Texas and lead a very good and beautiful life.”