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Monday, February 19, 2018

The NRA, a Tax-Exempt Loaded with Private Interest - The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence

The NRA, a Tax-Exempt Loaded with Private Interest - The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence:

The NRA, a Tax-Exempt Loaded with Private Interest

National Rifle Assn: Summary | OpenSecrets -
Independent Expenditures: $52,582,309
     For Democrats: $265
     Against Democrats: $37,010,516
     For Republicans: $17,385,437
     Against Republicans: $2,281
Electioneering Communications: $0About Electioneering Communications
Communication Costs: $1,816,249

[The following is a guest blog post by Alexandra F. O’Neill, Esq. and Daniel P. O’Neill, CFA]
Many have written about the NRA’s (National Rifle Association of America) close ties with the firearms and ammunition industry.[2]  People have not sufficiently examined whether these ties should impact the tax-exempt status of the organization, however.[3]  The NRA, a tax-exempt social welfare organization under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”), does not pay taxes on any of its net income.  In addition, under the rules governing section 501(c)(4) organizations, it need not disclose its significant contributors to the public.  This article examines the NRA’s activities and its finances in the context of the law governing tax-exempt social welfare organizations.  The authors conclude that the majority of the NRA’s lobbying, education, training and publication activities operate to benefit a private interest: the firearms and ammunition industry.  As a result, under the cases and rulings interpreting section 501(c)(4), the NRA does not primarily serve the community interest and should not qualify as a tax-exempt social welfare organization.  Instead, the NRA should operate as a political lobbying organization to be accountable for its key interests: the firearms and ammunition industry.
NRA Activities
Chartered in 1871, according to the NRA’s website, the organization’s primary goal was to “promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis.” [4]  The NRA today describes its mission as “to protect and defend the US Constitution; to promote public safety, law and order, and the national defense; to train law enforcement agencies; to train civilians in marksmanship; to promote shooting sports and hunting.”[5]  According to its 2014 IRS Form 990, the NRA spent the majority of its resources on three main program services that serve the organization’s tax-exempt purpose: (1) $54.5 million on firearms education, safety, and marksmanship training; (2) $47.1 million on NRA-ILA legislative program services; and (3) $39.5 million on NRA membership communications. [6]
The NRA describes its firearms education, safety, and marksmanship training as “NRA training courses develop safe and responsible shooters through a network of certified instructors, training more people annually than any other organization.”[7]  In the same paragraph, the NRA notes that it “is the world’s leader in firearms education, safety, and marksmanship training” and that “The NRA also engages gun owners in programs that promote all aspects of the outdoor lifestyle including hunting programs, shooting range programs, women’s programs, youth programs, competitive shooting programs, law enforcement training programs, gunsmithing programs, trainings and opportunities to shoot, hunt, and enjoy the outdoor traditions.”[8]  On its website, the NRA provides some examples of its educational, training and competitive programs.  The organization notes it has one million youth participating in NRA shooting sports events and affiliated programs with groups, such as 4-H, the Boy Scouts of America and the American Legion.[9]  It hosts the National Matches at its shooting range in Ohio, where individuals participate in various shooting competitions.[10]  The NRA offers hunter education programs and a NRA Police Firearms Instructor certification program.  In addition, the organization certifies instructors to train gun owners in different firearms courses.  Further, it has established the Eddie Eagle GunSafe® Program to educate children on what to do if they see a firearm in an unsupervised situation.  Finally, the NRA also offers “Refuse To Be A Victim®” seminars to men and women.[11]
The NRA’s audited financial statements show that the organization spends little on the competitive, recreational and training programs described on the NRA’s website and highlighted in its tax filings.  According to its 2014 audited financials,[12] the The NRA, a Tax-Exempt Loaded with Private Interest - The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence:

A national teachers’ strike? | Michigan Radio -

Join us in a Day of Action to Stop Gun Violence in our Schools - Network For Public Education

Join us in a Day of Action to Stop Gun Violence in our Schools - Network For Public Education:

Join us in a Day of Action to Stop Gun Violence in our Schools

After the slaughter of students and staff in Parkland, Florida, the time for action has never been more urgent. The politicians sit on their hands as our children and their teachers are murdered in their schools. We will be silent no more! The failure to enact rational laws that bar access to guns designed for mass shootings is inexcusable. It is past time to speak out and act.
Pledge your support to stop gun violence here.
We call for mass action on April 20, the anniversary of the horrific shootings at Columbine High School. We urge teachers, families, students, administrators and every member of the community to engage in acts of protest in and around their schools. Create actions that work best in your community.  Organize sit-ins, teach-ins, walkouts, marches–whatever you decide will show your school and community’s determination to keep our students safe. One elementary teacher suggested that teachers and parents link arms around the school to show their determination to protect children.
It is time to let our legislators know that they must stand up to the gun lobby and enact meaningful reform to protect students and staff.
Advocacy groups including the AFT, NEA and the BATS have already pledged their support.
We are asking you to take the pledge now and join us on April 20. Be a leader in your own community and develop meaningful activities that show that you stand for safe and peaceful schools. Share your ideas with us.
Sign up here, and then post this link:
Sign up your families. Sign up your friends. There can be no excuse for inaction.
Thank you for all that you do.
Diane Ravitch,President of the Network for Public Education

Carol Burris Executive Director