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The NRA has a huge influence on US politics

While group on the most influential in the country, their influence could reduce due dwindling finances and changing sentiment around guns in the US.

The NRA or the National Rifle Association is a group that was founded in 1871 by two US Civil War veterans as a recreational group designed to "promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis". The NRA is among the most powerful special interest lobby groups in the US, with a substantial budget to influence members of Congress on gun policy. The NRA donates millions of dollars every year to Republican lawmakers in Congress.

In August 2020, BBC noted that the NRA spends about $250m per year, far more than all the country's gun control advocacy groups put together. In terms of lobbying, the NRA officially spends about $3m per year to influence gun policy - the recorded amount spent on lobbying in 2014 was $3.3m. However, that is only the recorded contributions to lawmakers, and considerable sums are spent elsewhere via PACs and independent expenditures.

In September 2020, Axios reported that the NRA spent $9.2 million on political expenditures this cycle, about one-sixth of the $54.4 million reported in 2016, according to Federal Election Commission data tracked by Open Secrets. The decrease in expenditure results from mounting fees from fights with regulators, internal infighting, and the pandemic. They devastated its finances, and experts warn that this could reduce its future influence. Legal battles, including lawsuits from the attorneys general of New York and Washington, D.C., along with the inability to host big-money fundraisers amid the pandemic, forced the group to lay off and furlough hundreds of employees, according to The Guardian.

Moreover, a 2019 analysis from the New York Times found that voters generally did not punish lawmakers who broke from the NRA's policies over the past six election cycles. Gun control groups also eclipsed the NRA in political spending for the first time during the 2018 midterms.

The sentiment around guns in the country has changed in recent years amid more mass shooting events. A majority of Americans say gun laws should be stricter, according to the Pew Research Center. In the past 10 years, a growing percentage of Americans say that the laws governing the sale of firearms in the U.S. should be made stricter, according to a survey from Gallup conducted over the past 30 years.

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