Mark Alasia and Tim Evans of The Indianapolis Star provide an in-depth look at the National Rifle Association. The gun rights organization, which is gearing up for its annual convention, is one of the most influential lobbying forces in the country. Besides boasting “a savvy and loyal voting bloc,” the NRA raises millions of dollars thanks to membership contributions.

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Today, the association is fully active on the political scene. “In organizations tracked by the Center for Responsive Politics,” write Alasia and Evans, “the NRA ranked in the top 6 percent in money spent in three categories: political contributions, lobbying[,] and outside spending on ‘electioneering communication.’”

The National Rifle Association also receives significant monetary support from the gun industry. The Violence Policy Center “estimates the NRA received between $19.3 million and $60.2 million from gun and gun supply manufacturers since 2005.”

Paul Waldman, a contributing editor at The American Prospect, a monthly magazine on politics, says, however, that the NRA isn’t as strong as reputed. He “analyzed congressional races in which the NRA made campaign donations or endorsements and found they had little impact in districts where the vote was close.”

“What they’re good at is making members of Congress believe they should be frightened, but there is little empirical evidence that is true [. . .] What they are so successful at is making everybody believe that it’s a death sentence to oppose them. And that perception creates its own reality,” Waldman said.

If we want to stand toe-to-toe with the NRA and win, we must continue to amplify the voices of those calling for change. We must speak out and spread the message, and we must combat the myths with real dollars and real voters.