The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Sally Martinelli, 202-822-8200 x104,

NRA Has Worked for Decades to Block Efforts to Regulate Type of Explosive Reportedly Contained in Bombs Targeting Political Figures, Media, and Others

NRA leadership and “Corporate Partners” benefit financially from lack of regulation


Numerous news sources report that at least some of the pipe bombs targeting political figures, the media, and others this week were constructed with black powder. Since the 1970s the National Rifle Association (NRA) has worked to block federal regulation of black and smokeless powder, according to the Violence Policy Center (VPC) report Time Bomb: How the NRA Blocked the Regulation of Black and Smokeless Powder to the Benefit of Its Gun Industry "Corporate Partners" Today ( Many of the targets of the bombs have been consistently vilified in NRA publications.

The NRA's decades-long campaign against regulating these common explosives benefits domestic and foreign terrorists who use bombs to intimidate and spread fear. The lack of regulation also financially benefits gun industry members whose companies sell these explosives or related products. These include Pete Brownell of Brownells, who until recently was the NRA's president, and the NRA's top firearms industry financial patron, MidwayUSA.

VPC Legislative Director Kristen Rand states, "The lack of regulation of black and smokeless powder is a time bomb that threatens all Americans. For decades, the NRA has successfully blocked public safety measures in order to protect the profits of the gun industry. Now, these explosives are being used to target those the NRA identifies as its enemies."

The VPC study details the history--from the 1970s to the present--of how the NRA and members of the firearms industry have successfully worked to stop the regulation of black and smokeless powder.

These efforts have paid off in financial benefits to the NRA's "corporate partners" in the firearms industry who sell these explosives and related products including NRA board member and former NRA President Pete Brownell, CEO of Brownells, the "world's largest supplier of firearms accessories and gunsmithing tools." Brownells has contributed between $1 million and $4.9 million to the NRA as a "corporate partner" and is a member of the organization's "Golden Ring of Freedom," an honorary society for donors who give a million dollars or more.

Fellow "Golden Ring of Freedom" member Larry Potterfield, founder of MidwayUSA, is the NRA's most generous "corporate partner." As in prior years, MidwayUSA was the "official sponsor" of the NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits held this past May in Dallas, Texas. Through the creation of its Round-Up Program, MidwayUSA has channeled $15.5 million to the NRA as a "corporate partner." Additional Round-Up revenue from non-MidwayUSA corporate participants brings the total to $17.2 million.

Additional NRA gun industry "corporate partners" that sell smokeless or black powder and help fund the organization include: Cabela's; Graf & Sons, Inc.; Hodgdon Powder Company; Natchez Shooters Supplies; and, Sinclair International, Inc.

NRA leaders and "corporate partners" also benefit from the sale of components that rely on the use of smokeless or black powder such as reloading equipment and accessories, bullets, and brass casings.

For more information on the gun industry's financial support of the NRA, please see the 2013 Violence Policy Center report Blood Money II: How Gun Industry Dollars Fund the NRA, (

The Violence Policy Center (VPC) works to stop gun death and injury through research, education, advocacy, and collaboration. Founded in 1988 by Executive Director Josh Sugarmann, a native of Newtown, Connecticut, the VPC informs the public about the impact of gun violence on their daily lives, exposes the profit-driven marketing and lobbying activities of the firearms industry and gun lobby, offers unique technical expertise to policymakers, organizations, and advocates on the federal, state, and local levels, and works for policy changes that save lives. The VPC has a long and proven record of policy successes on the federal, state, and local levels, leading the National Rifle Association to acknowledge us as "the most effective ... anti-gun rabble-rouser in Washington."