NBC News Argues NSSF Has Replaced NRA As Leading Gun Rights Org

NBC News Argues NSSF Has Replaced NRA As Leading Gun Rights Org

AP Photo/Brittainy Newman
The NRA and the NSSF aren’t exactly competitors. They’re very different organizations with missions that happened to coincide. The NRA defends gun rights from the perspective of the average gun owner while the NSSF is a trade organization representing the firearm industry. That means defending gun rights for the companies that sell to gun owners.

But the NRA has always been the public face. Officials from the group are the ones who showed up on the news, debating various gun bills.

Meanwhile, the NSSF lurked in the background.

As some are celebrating the supposed demise of the NRA, it’s clear the organization isn’t where it was and it’ll be a while in coming back.

Now, though, the NSSF has stepped in to pick up the slack. Even NBC News recognizes this.

The top advocate for the gun industry in Washington is spending more than ever to influence the federal government. The group accuses President Joe Biden of waging war on the Second Amendment. It resists any effort to create universal background checks and argues that attempts to crack down on untraceable “ghost guns” are unnecessary.

And it’s not the National Rifle Association.

The NSSF, founded more than 60 years ago to promote hunting and recreational shooting, has grown into the country’s largest firearms trade association. The organization spent more than $5.4 million on federal lobbying last year, more than in any other year in its history and more than twice as much as the NRA, according to federal records.

The NRA — long seen as synonymous with the gun-rights movement — has struggled with declining membership and revenue, as well as internal scandals. The latest blow came when its longtime leader, Wayne LaPierre, was found liable for corruption in a New York court last month.

As the NRA cuts back on federal lobbying, its troubles have created an opportunity for other gun-rights advocates to expand — especially the NSSF.

The NSSF resists comparisons to the NRA, stressing that its trade association is just that — a group that represents gun manufacturers, retailers and other business interests, not gun owners themselves, as the NRA does.

The NSSF also lacks a lot of the baggage that the NRA has, especially just now.

Yet the truth is that while they represent a different group from someone like the NRA or GOA, the goal is ultimately the same. Protecting the gun rights of ordinary Americans is essential to protecting the interests of the firearm industry as a whole.

After all, if we can’t buy guns, who will these companies sell guns to?

The NSSF is also more resistant to a lot of the pressures people tried to apply to the NRA because they don’t offer some of the same programs. They’re an industry group, so why would they offer self-defense insurance?

Ages ago, while anti-gunners were lamenting the existence of the NRA and swearing that if they could topple the giant, they could finally get gun control, I pointed out that if the NRA suddenly went away, someone would step up and fill the void.

Gun rights matter too much to too many people to just let them be stripped from us because one organization isn’t doing what it used to do.

So yeah, the NSSF was who stepped up, but they’re also not alone. Other groups are growing significantly and new efforts will undoubtedly be created to fill any cracks in the current system, and that’s with the NRA still being around.

It proves that gun rights aren’t going anywhere no matter what happened with the NRA.