Powell: It Was Very Easy for the NRA to Raise Money Off of Fear

Josh Powell NRA COO
Courtesy NRA

DETROW: You know, you said before how LaPierre kind of made the NRA into this culture war machine. And you saw over the years how much power the NRA exerted over the Republican Party, especially. You saw its death grip on the party when it came to any conversation about any sort of federal gun control legislation. With all of these problems, have you seen anyone in Congress, any of these allies back away from the organization, distance themselves in any way at all?

MANN: So this is fascinating. You know, the NRA’s political machine has clearly been crippled, but the organization’s ideas and philosophies were already deeply rooted in the Republican Party and among many core GOP voters. Polls show an overwhelming majority of Americans support things like universal background checks for gun purchases. Even most Republicans support that. But core voters, the folks who vote in GOP primaries, they’re really hardcore on guns. So, you know, the GOP has not backed away from the NRA’s framing of all this.

I do think there’s one thing here, Scott, that is worth talking about for just a second. And that’s why, you know, while the NRA is still very powerful in the Republican Party, they’ve lost a ton of their bipartisan support. You know, it’s easy to forget now that at one time, Democrats also courted the NRA for their pro-gun ratings. But as this controversy grew, as scandals grew around the NRA’s hard-line positions, that’s really changed. And one reason is because of what we’ve heard through this scandal. One of the guys who’s being sued here in this case is Joshua Powell. He’s a former NRA official. But he’s turned against the NRA, and he’s come forward to talk about what goes on inside the organization and what he describes as their radical tactics.

JOSHUA POWELL: The term – pour gasoline on the fire – is from Wayne’s lips to God’s ears and was used regularly. If you’re pandering to the fringe of the gun movement and you beat it into their head that Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden are going to jump out of a black helicopter and take their guns, and jackbooted thugs are just around the corner, it’s very easy to raise money off of fear.

—  Scott Detrow in With the Resignation of CEO Lapierre and a Looming Civil Trial, Will the NRA Survive?

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