Coronavirus

NRA Will Furlough More Workers

Gun-rights group has already laid off 60 workers due to coronavirus

Wayne LaPierre, Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of the NRA, at the NRA Annual Meeting / Getty Images

The National Rifle Association will furlough more staffers on Friday morning, according to an internal email obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre told staffers in a Thursday email that a new wave of furloughs will commence on Friday. Those workers will continue to receive health benefits during their absence, but will no longer be paid beginning on Monday. He said the cuts were necessary to "ensure our ‘house'—the bedrock of protecting our nation’s freedom—remains viable for the long term." He said the gun-rights organization has "lost significant revenue" after the coronavirus pandemic forced the Second Amendment group to cancel its annual meeting, trainings, fundraising events, and competitions.

"These are extraordinarily challenging times for all Americans," LaPierre said in the email. "In 43 years working for the NRA (29 of them as your Executive Vice President), I have never seen a crisis like the one our world is in right now, nor one that touches my heart so deeply. The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are being felt in every corner of the global economy, in businesses both large and small, including right here within our beloved NRA."

The NRA did not return request for comment, but multiple sources within the organization confirmed the authenticity of the letter.

The organization has an estimated 5 million members and collected $412,233,508 in 2018, according to the most recent data available. Despite increases in membership and revenue under the Trump administration, the NRA struggled to weather the coronavirus. The group laid off more than 60 employees in the opening weeks of the outbreak, according to Politico.

The financial hardship may impact how active the NRA can be in the 2020 election—especially given that Bloomberg-backed Everytown for Gun Safety has already pledged to spend $60 million this cycle. The financial struggles also come as the organization pursues multiple lawsuits against state and local governments over attempts to shutter gun stores during the pandemic. Even as the NRA fights to keep open shops and ranges, it had closed down many of its own facilities.

The NRA saw a rebound in contributions and members' dues, but was still operating $10 million in the red after significantly increasing spending on legal representation. Such spending was at the heart of an internal dispute, as well as accusations of financial mismanagement and exorbitant personal spending by top leaders.

In his message to staff on Thursday, LaPierre said the "painful decision to furlough employees" was intended to be temporary and designed to ensure the group could make it through the economic crisis.

"For 149 years, the NRA has withstood countless challenges—both within our country and against our organization as a whole—and we have always emerged stronger and more tightly knit," he said. "Our members and our employees are the heart of what we do and the first-line defenders of our freedom across America."

The email said the furlough would apply to "employees who cannot perform their duties in the short term due to the cancellation or postponement of events, temporary closure of facilities or other disruptions in our operations." Sources said the new round of cuts will likely center on museum staff, office support workers, and employees who set up events in the field among others. Those who are furloughed will not be paid but their employment status will not change. They will retain their health insurance and other employee benefits but will still be responsible for paying premiums. Employer contributions to the company retirement program would also be temporarily halted.

The email did not indicate when the NRA expects to begin rehiring its laid off workforce. LaPierre said the organization's goal was to bring back both the furloughed employees and the retirement contribution match program once the economy improves and the group's finances rebound.

"We will get through this," he said.