A new advertising campaign from Everytown for Gun Safety is targeted at an unusual demographic for an organization that promotes stricter gun laws: card-carrying, dues-paying members of the National Rifle Association.
The six-figure campaign includes television ads on Fox News, CNN and MSNBC, as well as digital ads directed at N.R.A. members and gun owners. Ads will also be shown to viewers in Virginia, where the N.R.A. has its headquarters, and Orlando, Fla., where the group’s executive vice president, Wayne LaPierre, is expected to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference later this week.
“When you pay to join the N.R.A., you get a sticker — and that’s about it,” the television ad says. Over images of a shooting range and a hunter, it continues: “Today, just 10 percent of what they spend protects things like this. The rest pays for N.R.A. executives to enjoy this: designer suits from Beverly Hills, luxury trips to Italy, Hungary and the Bahamas, private jets, golden parachutes and lots of lawyers. No wonder the N.R.A. is bankrupt.”
“Ditch their sticker,” it concludes. “The N.R.A. has lost its way.”
The expenditures highlighted in the ad were largely made by Mr. LaPierre, who was sued last year, along with three other current and former N.R.A. executives, by Attorney General Letitia James of New York — a lawsuit that drove the group’s decision last month to declare bankruptcy and try to reincorporate in Texas. Ms. James accused the leaders of using the organization “as a personal piggy bank,” a phrase some of the group’s opponents have adopted.
“N.R.A. members pay dues for a whole variety of reasons,” said Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action, which is part of Everytown. “But none of them do it so Wayne LaPierre can use their money for expensive suits and flights on private jets.”
Amy Hunter, a spokeswoman for the N.R.A., dismissed the ad campaign, saying, “N.R.A. members will recognize this for what it is: another transparent and failing attempt by avowed anti-Second Amendment and anti-N.R.A. billionaire Michael Bloomberg to advance President Biden’s anti-gun agenda.”
Officials at Everytown, which is backed financially by Mr. Bloomberg, said the campaign was based on research indicating that many N.R.A. members were unaware of the allegations of financial misconduct against the group, and that they were less likely to support it after hearing about those allegations.
A poll by Schoen Cooperman Research, commissioned by Everytown last summer, found that the N.R.A.’s approval rating among its members dropped about 30 percentage points on average after members were shown a series of negative messages about the group: for example, that only 10 percent of the N.R.A.’s budget goes to gun safety, education, training and hunting programs.
“The message here is that N.R.A. members have been fleeced,” Everytown’s president, John Feinblatt, said in an interview. “When you do message testing with this kind of messaging, their approval ratings sink like a rock.”