Board members of the National Rifle Association and its affiliated organization the NRA Foundation, as well as the NRA's lobbying division, have a financial interest in allowing the continued sale of high-capacity ammunition magazines like those used in the Arizona mass shooting according to a just-released investigation by the Washington, DC-based Center for Public Integrity (CPI).
The CPI investigation, with subsequent additional research by the Violence Policy Center, reveals the following.
- NRA board member Pete Brownell owns Brownells Inc., which sells a wide-range of high-capacity ammunition magazines for pistols and assault weapons, including the same capacity Glock magazine as the 33-round magazine used in the Arizona attack. Brownells also manufactures high-capacity ammunition magazines. On his website supporting his campaign to join the NRA's board, Brownell offers his vision for strengthening the bond between the NRA and the gun industry and making sure that industry members are part of the NRA's mission:
"Having directors who intimately understand and work in leadership positions within the firearms industry ensures the NRA's focus is honed on the overall mission of the organization. These individuals bring a keen sense of the industry and of the bigger fight to the table."
Brownells, which describes itself as the "world's largest supplier of firearms accessories and gunsmithing tools" also sponsors the NRA's National Youth Shooting Sports Ambassadors.
- NRA Foundation board vice-president Brenda Potterfield is co-owner of MidwayUSA, which through its NRA 'Round-Up' Program has raised millions of dollars for the NRA's lobbying arm, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA). Like Brownells, MidwayUSA sells a wide range of high-capacity ammunition magazines for pistols and assault weapons, including 33-round magazines for Glock pistols. Since 1992 MidwayUSA has asked customers "to 'Round-Up' the total of each order and donate the change to the NRA/ILA." Since the program's inception, MidwayUSA has collected more than 5.7 million dollars for the NRA's lobbying efforts. On its website, MidwayUSA states that other "shooting industry" companies have followed their lead, resulting in a total of more than 7.5 million dollars contributed to the NRA from "shooting industry" companies (MidwayUSA and others) since 1992. MidwayUSA claims to stock, "Just about everything for shooting, reloading, gunsmithing and hunting."
- NRA board member Ronnie Barrett owns Barrett, which manufactures the REC7, an AR-15 type assault rifle which comes with two 30-round ammunition magazines. Ronnie Barrett is best known for the invention and civilian marketing of the 50 caliber sniper rifle: a military weapon used by U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan that can penetrate armor-plating from a mile away and down airliners on take-off and landing, but under federal law is sold with no greater restrictions than a standard hunting rifle.
Given that the NRA's coffers benefit directly from the sale of high-capacity ammunition magazines, it's easy to understand why the NRA opposes any proposal--like the bill introduced yesterday by Representative Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY)--to regulate them.
Follow Josh Sugarmann on Twitter: