- Overall, we rate the National Rifle Association (NRA) Questionable based on far-right-wing bias, promotion of conspiracies, poor sourcing, and numerous failed fact checks with IFCN fact-checkers.
Reasoning: Conspiracy Theories, Poor Sourcing, Poor Fact Check Record
World Press Freedom Rank: USA 45/180
Founded in 1871, The National Rifle Association of America (NRA) is an American nonprofit organization that advocates for gun rights. Observers and lawmakers see the NRA as one of the top three most influential lobbying groups in Washington. The current president is Carolyn D. Meadows and the executive vice president is Wayne LaPierre. As of 2018, the NRA claims 5 million members, though this has not been verified. According to their about page they state “While widely recognized today as a major political force and as America’s foremost defender of Second Amendment rights, the NRA has, since its inception, been the premier firearms education organization in the world.”
Investigations by the FBI and Special Counsel Robert Mueller resulted in indictments of Russian agents on charges of developing and exploiting ties with the NRA to influence US politics. The deputy governor of the Central Bank of Russia, Aleksandr Torshin, is suspected of illegally funneling money through the NRA to benefit Trump’s 2016 campaign. In May 2018, Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee released a report stating it had obtained “a number of documents that suggest the Kremlin used the National Rifle Association as a means of accessing and assisting Mr. Trump and his campaign” through Torshin and his assistant Maria Butina, and that “The Kremlin may also have used the NRA to secretly fund Mr. Trump’s campaign.”
In 2019, the NRA faced numerous controversies that you can read about here.
On August 6, 2020, New York State Attorney General Letitia James announced that she has filed a lawsuit against the National Rifle Association and four individuals, including longtime leader Wayne LaPierre, seeking to dissolve the gun rights advocacy group for “diverting charitable funds to support wasteful spending.”
Funded by / Ownership
The National Rifle Association is a nonprofit that is funded through donations, membership fees, and a store that sells gun-related merchandise. They also receive significant funding from the gun industry and other related corporate interests. Further, the NRA funds political campaigns and spends money on lobbying efforts on behalf of the gun industry. For example, according to Open Secrets, the NRA has donated 84% of the money to Republicans totaling over 22 million dollars since 1990. The NRA also operates a Political Action Committee (PAC) called the NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA POLITICAL VICTORY FUND, which has raised over 9 million dollars and donated 99% to Republican candidates and causes.
Analysis / Bias
In review, the primary purpose of the National Rifle Association today is to lobby the government in support of the second amendment as well as promote the interests of the firearms industry. They also continue to promote gun safety and education, however, this has taken a secondary role to lobbying.
The NRA presents information with a right-wing bias as it supports Republican candidates and alleges that Democrats are attempting to restrict gun rights. The NRA publishes several magazines and lists these news stories on the website. Some of the stories contain loaded emotional wording that favors the right such as this: Michael Bloomberg Thinks He Can Buy Your Freedom. This story is completely unsourced to outside information. Another section called the Political Report publishes news related to gun rights and politics. The articles found here are opinion pieces that always favor the right and denigrate the left such as this: Warren Wants To Tax Away Your Rights. This article displays stats and numbers from Elizabeth Warren’s tax plan on firearms, however, the author did not link to or mention the sources of this information, which renders this piece non-credible, even if it may be true. In general, the NRA promotes information favorable on gun rights and frequently endorses Republican/conservative candidates.
A factual search reveals a significant number of false claims and the promotion of conspiracy theories. Our criteria indicate that any source that has failed more than 5 failed checks is automatically classified as Questionable. The NRA has failed more than a dozen. Below is a sampling of a few.
- The Manchin-Toomey amendment “would have criminalized certain private transfers of firearms between honest citizens, requiring lifelong friends, neighbors and some family members” to get government approval. – MOSTLY FALSE
- NRA Exec’s False Gun Claim – FALSE
- “March For Our Lives is backed by radicals with a history of violent threats, language and actions.” – PANTS ON FIRE
- “Mary Landrieu voted to take away your gun rights.” – PANTS ON FIRE
- Says Barack “Obama admits he’s coming for our guns, telling Sarah Brady, ‘We are working on (gun control), but under the radar.’ “ – PANTS ON FIRE
- “Obama’s Ten Point Plan to ‘Change’ the Second Amendment…Ban use of firearms for home defense.” – PANTS ON FIRE
- Says Hillary Clinton “doesn’t believe in your right to keep a gun at home for self-defense.” – FALSE
- Joe Biden praised a Bloomberg-funded gun control group for referring to the TENS OF THOUSANDS of PEACEFUL, LAW-ABIDING gun owners in Richmond as “white supremacists.” – FALSE
- Says “Joe Biden wants to ban 9mm pistols.” – FALSE
Overall, we rate the National Rifle Association Questionable based on far-right-wing bias, promotion of conspiracies, poor sourcing, and numerous failed fact checks with IFCN fact-checkers. (11/20/2016) Updated (D. Van Zandt 8/6/2020)