The Weekly Reload Podcast

OSU Accounting Professor on NRA Revenues Falling by Half Since 2018, Legal Fees Ballooning in 2021

February 7th, 2022

On this week's episode, we drill down into the details of the internal financial document The Reload obtained from an NRA source.

Ohio State University Accounting Professor Brian Mittendorf joins the show to give insight into what the document says and what the massive drops in revenue and membership reveal about the future of the country's most influential gun group. He says the NRA has actually improved its financial position, but only by drastically cutting back on its core services. That puts it in danger of entering a kind of "death spiral" with fewer members leading to fewer revenue and services, leading to fewer members, he said.

Allegations of corruption against NRA leadership, including CEO Wayne LaPierre, and the effects of the pandemic have combined for a serious blow to the organization. With membership shrinking, revenues have dwindled. That's forced the gun-rights behemoth to make difficult choices about cutting its training, community outreach, competitive shooting, and many more programs.

Professor Mittendorf has followed the NRA's finances for years and said the internal document obtained by The Reload is one of the most in-depth accountings ever made public. He talked about the complex makeup of the group, its bankruptcy, its legal spending, and its fascinating debt payments. Plus, he talks at length about how new planned gifts have cratered despite being a major source of long-term revenue.

Plus, Contributing Writer Jake Fogleman provides a deeper look at the NRA's membership situation. Dues have fallen by half since 2018. Membership has continually declined since then. The NRA's internal accounting contradicts its public claim it reached 6 million members in that year. Instead, it was below 5.5 million at its peak and is now closer to 4.75 million.

I also explain why the NRA's financial situation continues to matter so much. Not just for NRA members and staff, but for everyone who cares about guns. The group continues to loom large over the gun-rights fight in America by dwarfing most other groups combined.