Donate For Our Rights: NRA Announces Record Fundraising Haul, Fueled By Small Donor Backlash

Posted: Apr 24, 2018 1:05 PM

If you're surprised by this, you haven't been paying attention to our politics for the last few years.  Intense agitation from one side of the ideological aisle begets a backlash from the other -- with Americans throwing money at dueling causes, out of both fear and pure spite.  With anti-NRA demagoguery dialed up to eleven after the Parkland shooting, anti-gun activists have succeeded in eroding the public's views of the organization.  But they've also helped recruit legions of new NRA members and donors.  Some of these new supporters have signed up out of Second Amendment solidarity, while others have likely found the group's 'culture war' messaging alluring (I personally find it needlessly partisan and borderline-apocalyptic).  So even if the National Rifle Association currently finds itself in a position of diminished overall popularity, and as more of a touchstone for hyper-partisanship than ever before, scores of ordinary Americans are voting with their pocketbooks to send financial reinforcements to the embattled guns rights group:

As the student-led March for Our Lives movement captured the nation's attention in the weeks after the Parkland shooting, the other side of the gun control debate enjoyed a banner month of its own. The National Rifle Association's Political Victory Fund raised $2.4 million from March 1 to March 31, the group's first full month of political fundraising since the nation's deadliest high school shooting on Valentine's Day, according to filings submitted to the Federal Elections Commission. The total is $1.5 million more than the organization raised during the same time period in 2017, when it took in $884,000 in donations, and $1.6 million more than it raised in February 2018. The $2.4 million haul is the most money raised by the NRA's political arm in one month since June 2003, the last month when electronic federal records were readily available. It surpasses the $1.1 million and $1.5 million raised in January and February 2013, the two months after the Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

Hardcore opponents of gun rights will see this as a ghoulish orgy of cash "celebrating" death; everyone else will understand that it's actually a very natural response to major pushes for new gun bans and restrictions, which sometimes gain steam after horrible events.  When someone fears that energized, media-backed politicians and activists are actively maneuvering to limit their rights, he or she becomes more motivated to open up his or her wallet to support the most high profile advocacy organization that lobbies and fights on behalf of those rights.  The Miami Herald story goes on to compare the NRA's fundraising prowess to the donations received from top gun control groups:

The NRA's Political Victory Fund ended the month with $5.8 million on hand as the 2018 campaign season ramps up. Gun control groups haven't been able to match the NRA's fundraising. Everytown for Gun Safety's Political Action Fund raised $13,580 in March while former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' Political Action Committee raised $129,589 in March...The March for Our Lives group founded after the Parkland shooting has raised $3.5 million since Feb. 18 via the online service GoFundMe, though that money was put toward organizing marches around the country and helping families of the victims.

I'd reckon that the NRA's dominance in raking in contributions stems from the human impulse to do something when there's a hotly-debated political brawl underway. The Left was able to channel its energies into organizing and attending large rallies and marches across the country.  That's how they engaged in the process, and it explains why the large majority of anti-gun dollars were funneled into orchestrating the March for Our Lives push.  Pro-gun Americans, who looked on as their motives were impugned and their character assassinated on a daily basis, didn't have as many concrete activism opportunities available to them.  It follows, therefore, that they'd recognize the NRA as a fellow target of vitriol, then engage in financial activism as a logical form of pushback.  In other words, if you don't have a big event to attend, you do things like cut checks and join counter-boycotts or 'buycotts.'

Another mistake NRA critics will undoubtedly make as they seek to downplay the significance of this tsunami of dollars is to cast the debate as "the people" versus "big money."  This repeats a common error: Misunderstanding the power of the NRA, which is not derived from wealthy men in dark suits.  It's derived from millions of active and engaged members who are reliable voters.  As the Herald story points out, highlighted by Charles Cooke in his tweet embedded above, "most of the donations, $1.9 million of the $2.4 million total, came from small donors who gave less than $200."  That is grassroots passion on display, whether or not critics choose to acknowledge it as such.  And if some people are baffled by the instinct of many of their fellow countrymen to shower the NRA with donations, look no further than absurd and alienating episodes like the stupid freakout over a "don't touch my daughter" gag, and the bizarre targeting of a Parkland student by law enforcement after he...visited a gun range:

Whipping up the outrage mob over a harmless dad joke actively turns people off.  Law enforcement authorities interrogating a Parkland survivor over the entirely ordinary exercise of his rights serves to feed a narrative about freedoms being chipped away or imperiled by government.  Slow clap, everyone.  Finally, since the topic of this post is American citizens contributing to causes they deem to be worthy, I'll leave you with a link to an online fund raising money for the young man whose exceptional bravery (which we referenced yesterday) prevented more deaths at a Tennessee Waffle House over the weekend:

As for this writing, donations have already surpassed $50,000.