Deborah Friedell, 24 September 2020
Financially, Trump’s victory was a disaster for the NRA: members became complacent with an ally in the White House, and dues dropped by $35 million. In the midterm elections, for the first time, the NRA was outspent by gun control advocacy groups, and they’ve had layoffs. All this has made them increasingly dependent on large donations from gun manufacturers, sometimes estimated to be at least 60 per cent of their income. It’s not just American money: a quarter of the guns in the US were made in Europe, and Austrians (Glock), Germans (SIG Sauer) and Italians (Beretta) have donated millions of dollars to the NRA in order to protect their biggest market. The interests of gun sellers and gun buyers often overlap, but not always. I used to wonder why the NRA seemed to value the right to carry a concealed gun over an openly carried one, until it was pointed out to me that gun manufacturers often make more money from accessories – waistband holsters, ankle holsters, jackets with special pockets, vegan leather handbags with gun compartments – than from the guns themselves.