Leading the Call to Arms

Founded in 1871, the National Rifle Association is by far the most powerful component of America's gun lobby. With an annual budget of $30 million a year and a paid staff of 275, it coordinates a network of 54 state groups and 9,000 local gun clubs. Half of its money comes from dues (minimum annual fee: $15) and 15% from advertising, mainly by weapons manufacturers, in its monthly magazines American Rifleman, the American Hunter and the American Marksman.

The N.R.A. says it spends $4 million a year on direct lobbying, which does not include such grass-roots efforts as letter writing campaigns and...

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