The NRA is encouraging people to spend their COVID-19 relief checks on guns

The National Rifle Association is encouraging Americans to spend their coronavirus stimulus checks on “sweet deals” from gun and firearm accessory manufacturers, including companies that have donated tens of thousands of dollars to the NRA -- and one that’s given the gun group over $1 million. This isn’t the first time that the NRA has tried to fundraise off of fearmongering during the coronavirus pandemic. Previous instances of alleged financial impropriety have reportedly already cost the group $100 million. 

The NRA’s magazine American Rifleman published an April 23 article promoting ways to “stretch those bucks” on some “special spring gun deals for your stimulus check.”

The article highlights seven companies that are offering either rebates or free giveaways after customers buy a specific item, including firearms and ammunition. The article ends by encouraging readers to “move fast” because gun background checks were at a single-month record high in March, “and retailers contacted by American Rifleman indicated they haven’t slowed.” 

Four of the seven companies listed in the article have donated to the NRA: Springfield Armory, Crimson Trace, FN America, and Hornady.

According to a 2011 report put out by the Violence Policy Center, the NRA has a “Corporate Partners Program” which offers “a variety of ways to support the NRA and its entities,” including “Corporate Strategic Giving,” and recognizes “a company’s total commitment starting at $25,000.” According to the Violence Policy Center, Springfield Armory has given between $1 million and $4.9 million to the NRA, Crimson Trace has given between $100,000 and $249,999, FN America (which the report refers to as FNH USA) has given between $50,000 and $99,999, and Hornady has given between $25,000 and $49,999. 

Beyond the blatantly transparent attempt to boost the profits of its donors, the NRA is also promoting a dangerous surge in gun sales. 

March 2020 broke the FBI’s all-time record for the number of background checks conducted in a single month. The FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) conducted 3.7 million checks last month, up 12% from the previous record, reached in December 2015. 

In early April, CNN reported that of 20 police departments serving large cities that provided statistics, “nine saw double-digit percentage jumps in domestic violence cases or 911 calls in March, either compared to the previous year or to earlier months in 2020.” According to Giffords Law Center, domestic violence incidents involving a gun are 12 times more likely to result in death than those where a gun is not present. Firearms are used in almost half of all intimate partner homicides in the U.S., and nearly 1 million women alive today report having been either shot or shot at by an abusive partner.