In the wake of the Parkland shooting and a wave of student-led protests calling for tighter gun controls, the NRA painted itself—and the Second Amendment—as a fragile endangered species. The con worked. According to Federal Elections Commission filings reported by the Miami Herald, the NRA broke a 15-year fundraising record in March, collecting a whopping $2.4 million in donations. That’s $1.6 million more than they earned in February.
This uptick in donations following a mass murder isn’t unique to the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School; some of the NRA’s largest months of funding and membership follow mass shootings. The NRA saw an influx in new members following the Pulse nightclub shooting in 2016 and the shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015. After the December 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting, the NRA made $1.1 million and $1.5 million in January and February of 2013.
In the wake of mass shootings, gun sales tend to skyrocket as well. However, this didn’t seem to come to pass following Parkland or last year’s Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs mass shootings. As Vox recently noted, it may be due to the fact that there is less paranoia about strong gun reform under a Trump presidency versus Obama. (Turns out they didn’t have anything to worry about during the Obama administration, anyway.)
No matter who’s in the White House, the NRA relies on the same narratives of impending calamity and victimization to bring in donations and new members. They’re riding that fear all the way to to bank.