2018 Was A Bad Year For The NRA, And The Worst Could Be Yet To Come

2018 Was A Bad Year For The NRA, And The Worst Could Be Yet To Come

The National Rifle Association began 2018 with plenty of reason for optimism.

Two horrific mass shootings had rocked the nation in the previous three months - one of them the deadliest in modern U.S. history - but by January, any fervor for gun control in Congress had mostly subsided. With a staunch ally in the White House and GOP majorities in both branches of Congress, at least through the end of the year, the NRA seemed positioned to advance its pro-gun agenda over the next 12 months, further cementing its standing as one of the nation's most politically influential organizations.

Instead, in the waning days of 2018, the NRA now appears to be worse off than it has been in years. The group has made no progress on its federal legislative priorities, and reportedly faces stiff financial headwinds, as well as the looming threat of a pair of explosive scandals involving Russian money and influence.

Perhaps more concerning for the NRA, this year made clear that it's losing its stranglehold on the conversation around firearms in the U.S. The February school shooting in Parkland, Florida, led to surging momentum in favor of stronger gun laws. A student-led movement emerged in response, quickly singling out the NRA as its chief enemy, and ultimately helping gun safety candidates win victories in the midterm elections. Doctors also jumped into the anti-NRA fray later in the year, publicly thumping the group over its demands that the medical community keep quiet on issues of gun violence.

Despite the challenges for the NRA, experts say it's too early to know if 2018 was merely a blip or a sign of worse things to come. But as the group looks to claw back power in 2019, here are some of the issues it's up against.

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