RELEASE: How the NRA Pulls From the Dictator’s Playbook

Washington, D.C. — For years, the National Rifle Association (NRA) has relied on fearmongering and misinformation tactics to transform its agenda from supporting gun safety to advocating unrestricted gun rights, which has proven enormously successful. One doesn’t have to look far to glean its source of inspiration: The NRA has leveraged the playbook of authoritarian and undemocratic regimes around the world that deploy similar disinformation campaigns to consolidate power and influence policymakers.

As the NRA’s 148th Annual Meeting kicks off this week in Indianapolis, the Center for American Progress released a new report analyzing how the NRA’s messaging strategies mirror those used by illiberal and authoritarian regimes around the world, designed to sow confusion around gun violence and increase gun ownership.

The report takes a particular look at how the NRA exploits stereotypes around gender and immigration to widen a political divide between law-abiding gun owners and their supposed progressive enemies, serving only to deepen an “us vs. them” dynamic.

“The NRA’s tactics are deceitful not only because it claims to protect American freedoms but also because it draws from fundamentally un-American sources,” said Rukmani Bhatia, policy analyst for Gun Violence Prevention at CAP and the author of the report. “More than 95 people die every day from gun violence in the United States, but the NRA has created a zero-sum game that makes it impossible for its members to believe in both gun ownership and reducing gun violence.”

The NRA’s vice grip over the firearm discourse has gained traction among significant portions of the United States, facilitating a cozy sphere of influence across federal, state, and local legislators. As the gun rights organization’s annual convening begins, the irony in the self-proclaimed “oldest civil rights organization in U.S. history” employing the same repressive tactics as dictators in the world cannot be overstated.

Click here to read the report: “Guns, Lies, and Fear: Exposing the NRA’s Messaging Playbook” by Rukmani Bhatia

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, contact Kyle Epstein at or 202.481.8137.