The NRA Existential Crisis: Did Parkland Student Survivors Help Make This Happen?
The National Rifle Association built an image of itself as unsinkable, but that image isn’t proving useful in an ongoing court case. The gun ownership advocacy group is now finding it more useful to take inventory of its woes.
In a new legal filing, the NRA contends that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s campaign to pressure insurers and financial services companies to cut ties with it could deeply hurt its financial health and ability to “fulfill its advocacy objectives,” The Trace reported.
Since the Feb. 14 massacre of 17 students and educators at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the NRA has taken hits from survivors and businesses. Delta and United airlines discontinued discounts for NRA members. Insurance company MetLife and car rental companies Avis and Hertz did the same. Dick’s Sporting Goods said it will no longer sell high-capacity magazines or assault rifles and raised its minimum age to buy a firearm to 21, CNBC reported.
The NRA warned in a court filing that it is in grave financial jeopardy and may soon “be unable to exist,” Rolling Stone reported. It has been suing Cuomo and New York State financial regulators since May, claiming the NRA has been the victim of a state-led “blacklisting campaign” that has caused it “tens of millions of dollars in damages.”
The NRA says it can’t access financial services essential to its operations and is facing “irrecoverable loss and irreparable harm,” according to an amended complaint filed in U.S. District Court in late July:
“Specifically, the NRA warns that it has lost insurance coverage — endangering day-to-day operations. ‘Insurance coverage is necessary for the NRA to continue its existence,’ the complaint reads. Without general liability coverage, it adds, the ‘NRA cannot maintain its physical premises, convene off-site meetings and events, operate educational programs … or hold rallies, conventions and assemblies.’ The complaint says the NRA’s video streaming service and magazines may soon shut down.”
The NRA’s overall image could benefit from a total rebrand, said DeeAnn Sims, founder and creative director of the SPBX public relations firm in Los Angeles. It can address its image problem with a few proactive steps, she told CNBC:
- NRA members who are speaking to the press and making public appearances “should definitely invest in media training,” Sims said.
- The NRA should run a national public service announcement about gun safety and invest in “a message that suggests they not only recognize a problem, but that they care about these issues.”
The NRA should change its approach, said Brad Chase of Chase Global Media Group and the author of a Change.org petition asking Amazon to take NRA TV off its streaming service and website.
“They need to fire their communications team,” Chase told CNBC. “Bring in gun owners and non-gun owners alike who will staunchly defend the Second Amendment, but also accept the fact that it needs to be updated to be compatible with 21st-century life.”
A public relations makeover probably won’t work, said Jeff Bishop, a Virginia attorney and NRA member since 1992. Reasonable proposals and modest regulations which came out after the Las Vegas massacre — banning bump stocks and fixing the National Instant Criminal Background Check System — “gained the NRA zero goodwill among gun control advocates, but did anger many ‘no-compromise’ members who already viewed the organization as corporate sellouts,” Bishop said.