Let’s be honest: The NRA is not as popular as it once was.
A lot of gun owners feel like the NRA’s priorities these days have shifted more to lobbying for large firearms manufacturers and promoting their own political influence than actually defending Second Amendment rights.
Whether that’s true or not, it is clear that the NRA is hurting.
Poll after poll is showing that their approval rating among Americans is the lowest it’s been in at least a decade, even among gun owners. The NRA has also been losing money for years.
All of this has led many gun owners to look for other organizations to donate to and rely on for training, range insurance, and the other services that the NRA provides, whether because they no longer wish to support the NRA or because they don’t see the NRA as having a stable future.
If that’s you, then you’ve come to the right place. The NRA is far from the only pro-gun organization.
This list is full of various organizations that you can choose to support instead of (or in addition to, if you’re not put off the NRA).
I’ll start with general pro-gun and pro-Second Amendment advocacy groups and then go into some other special interest groups that focus more on particular demographics of gun owners or focus on specific issues surrounding gun ownership.
Finally, I’ll finish up with state-level organizations.
Now that you know where we’re going, let’s start working on getting there.
Table of Contents
To get us started, I’m going to talk about a few general firearm advocacy groups. These are the groups that are most like what the NRA is supposed to be.
Gun Owners of America
Gun Owners of America is probably the most popular NRA alternative.
It was created in 1975 by NRA board member and California state senator H. L. Richardson in response to his belief that the NRA was compromising on the protection of gun rights. For gun owners with the same belief today, it’s an excellent resource.
Sadly, Sen. Richardson has recently passed away at the age of 93. His work and legacy shall live on through the GOA.
GOA primarily focuses on supporting pro-gun legislation and candidates, opposing the opposite including by challenging existing laws in court, and educating the public, media, and government officials about Second Amendment and firearms related issues through the Gun Owner’s Foundation, GOA’s non-profit arm.
Like the NRA, GOA rates politicians on their firearm friendliness and publishes voting histories for representatives to help you inform your votes.
In addition to their political activism, GOA also sponsors firearms training programs.
Second Amendment Foundation
The Second Amendment Foundation has been working to educate the public on the Second Amendment and to defend the Second Amendment in court since the non-profit was started in 1974.
The SAF is extremely active in suing governments at all levels for Second Amendment violations and estimate that they’re involved in a whopping 80% of Second Amendment related legal cases currently going on in the US.
While the SAF doesn’t provide attorneys for people who’ve been accused in firearms-related cases, but they do provide an attorney referral service.
Though the SAF doesn’t engage in lobbying themselves, they do have a lobbying affiliate, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA), which is part of the International Association for the Protection of Civilian Arms Rights.
They also host the Gun Rights Policy Conference, a meetup of national and grassroots gun rights activists to look at threats to the Second Amendment and discuss strategies for combating them.
In addition, the SAF publishes a variety of resources to help gun owners stay on top of firearms related legislation.
Other National Level Groups:
- American Rifle & Pistol Association
- National Association for Gun Rights
- Firearms Policy Coalition
- Constitutional Rights PAC (focused on constitutional rights in general, not just Second Amendment rights)
Special Interest Groups
As opposed to the general advocacy organizations above, these groups are focused on specific demographics, political groups , or issues.
They can be great compliments to the above groups if you’d like to put additional support towards a more specific aspect of firearms rights and ownership or you can join them in lieu of one of those groups
Pro-gun activism and pro-LGBTQ activism are typically associated with opposite sides of the political aisle, but Pink Pistols brings the two issues together.
LGBTQ people are at an increased risk of being the victims of violent crime compared to their heterosexual and cisgender counterparts. Pink Pistols seeks to fix that by teaching sexual minorities how to legally and effectively use and conceal firearms.
Then they make that mission public so that would-be attackers can no longer be sure who is and isn’t carry a weapon with which to defend themselves.
They do this through local chapters throughout the US that get together to train, socialize, and teach one another.
Pink Pistols is not a lobbying group for either firearms or LGBTQ rights and encourages members to engage in activism according to their own conscience.
In order to protect the privacy of their members, they have no official membership application process or list. To be a member of the Pink Pistols, one simply has to declare themselves one.
While Pink Pistols’ mission focuses on LGBTQ people, you don’t have to be a sexual minority to participate.
Similar organizations include Operation Blazing Sword and Trigger Warning Queer & Trans Gun Club.
The Well-Armed Woman
The Well-Armed Woman is the premier online resource for gun info for women.
It was founded by Carrie Lightfoot (who was featured in my list of Badass Lady Shooters) in response to the lack of helpful firearms resources for women.
The site features a massive array of content by and for women, including not only firearms resources but also info on other defensive behaviors like situational awareness and cybersecurity as well as non-lethal self-defense.
In addition, the site has a store with a variety of firearms accessories, as well as apparel, gifts, training videos, and self-defense gear, including items not available anywhere else.
In addition to the website, through The Well-Armed Woman Shooting Chapters program, the organization also has a ton of local chapters spread throughout the US which provide training and the opportunity to socialize with fellow women shooters.
Both experienced shooters and firearm newbies looking to learn are welcome.
The Well-Armed Woman also certifies women to be shooting instructors through a course that pays special attention to the needs and issues of women shooters. You can find a list of their certified instructors on their website.
A Girl and A Gun is a similar organization that focuses on introducing women and girls to recreational and competitive sport shooting, paying less attention to using guns for defense.
Evolve USA is a little bit different from a lot of other gun focused organizations in that they aren’t at all political. In fact, they’re overtly apolitical, actively refusing to discuss or debate anything about gun control from either side.
Instead, Evolve focuses on solving what they call “America’s dumbest problem,” the 16,000 people every year who are injured or killed due to preventable gun accidents, by reminding gun owners to take the proper steps to use their guns safely and prevent them from being accessed by people who shouldn’t, and remind other gun owners to do the same.
Or, as they put it, to not be a dumbass.
You may remember them from this video that went viral a few years back:
Evolve also makes great targets, posters, and stickers that you can download for free off of their website to remind yourself and others to be safe.
Or just to give yourself a chuckle.
National African American Gun Association
It’s no secret that the United States doesn’t have a great historical track record when it comes to respecting the rights of our black residents, including Second Amendment rights, even after the government began recognizing them as citizens.
Even today, firearm ownership among the African American community is much lower than among whites. The National African American Gun Association seeks to change that.
They’re a relatively new kid on the block, founded in 2015 in February (in honor of Black History Month).
Like the Pink Pistols, NAAGA was originally formed to arm and educated a community, while encouraging members to engage in political activism as individuals.
In addition, NAAGA honors the black community’s unique history with firearms over the last 400 years.
However, there is now talk in the organization about becoming more politically involved, but whether that will happen and, if so, how has yet to be determined.
If you’d like to be part of that conversation or otherwise just want to be part of a developing organization, now’s a great time to join.
Safari Club International
Safari Club International (SCI) is probably the leading voice in advocating for both hunters and for sustainable hunting practices.
The Safari Club works to protect hunting both in the US and internationally.
Domestically, SCI lobbies government officials on both the state and federal level and litigates cases related to hunting issues. At the international level, SCI is a non-governmental participant in a bunch of different organizations and treaties related to hunting, conservation, and firearms, including the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES).
Through the Safari Club International Foundation, they also engage in massive efforts for conservation, humanitarian aid, and poaching prevention.
A few of these efforts include conservation grants, Sensory Safari, a program which introduces visually impaired adults and children to wildlife education through touch, Sportsmen Against Hunger, which provides food in the form of hunted game for those in need.
Disabled Hunter Program, which makes hunting and shooting more accessible for those with various disabilities.
SCI and SCI Foundation are great organizations to support if, in addition to hunting and firearms, environmental preservation, species conservation, and humanitarian efforts are your jam.
The Safari Club is far from the only group of its kind. There are a couple of other general hunting advocacy groups like the Boone and Crockett Club and the Sportsmen’s Alliance, but there are also plenty of species focused groups as well, including:
- Ducks Unlimited
- National Wild Turkey Federation
- Quality Deer Management Association
- Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
- Mule Deer Foundation
- Pheasants Forever
In addition to the national level groups discussed above, there are also plenty of groups that operate at the state and local levels.
Since there are so many of them and membership depends on where you live, I’m not going to provide a comprehensive list here.
There are times when we are 1 nation and there are times when we are 50 states, our firearm laws cross both lines often.
State law is often the most vulnerable to radical change, what happens in California 10 years ago may be coming to a legalization session near you sooner than you think.
I strongly recommend that you look into what state-level groups are representing your rights and support them if you agree.
Since much of the Pew Pew team is in California and I’m in Georgia, here are two groups that we like.
California Rifle & Pistol Association
The California Rifle and Pistol Association (CRPA) is basically the NRA, offering virtually all of the same types of resources and programs, but just for California.
In fact, they’re the NRA’s State Association for California. That means that they’re an independent organization (rather than part of the NRA), but they’re recognized by the NRA and promote NRA programs and efforts.
CRPA is a group that has had a string of recent victories, the most notable being Freedom Week.
Georgia Carry is my preferred state-level organization.
They don’t provide the sort of resources for gun owners that some organizations do, like classes because they prefer to focus their efforts on lobbying efforts and challenging gun laws in court, a strategy that has proved quite successful.
Florida Carry makes similar efforts on their side of the state line.
These are just a few of the many, many gun advocacy organizations out there that you can support instead of the NRA. They’re all great organizations, but you should also feel free to explore more of the wide variety of groups and programs out there.
You have plenty of options available to you, so look for one that you can really get behind.
What are your thoughts on the NRA? What are your preferred gun organizations and what do you love about them? Let us know in the comments and be sure to share this list with anyone else you who happens to be looking for NRA alternatives!
38 Leave a Reply
The NRA will flounder as long as LaPierre is still there. He has never been an effective leader, and squandered millions of dollars and allowed NY to run the NRA out of town with a hateful and bigoted AG bent on destroying anything conservative.
I was a member for decades and finally could take no more. I also grew extremely tired of the constant barrage of mail and email begging for money.
New leadership is needed. Someone along the lines od DeSantis who isn’t scared, politically correct, and is willing to take on tge insanity of the “woke” movement.
I know that the NRA didn't help Washington state to well, when they past a few gun laws a few years ago, thinking about going to gun owners of America, and moving out of Washington state
Good for you.
Outside perspective here, I was not a gun owner for years and the NRA was a big reason why. With their increasingly harsh and hateful political activity, their refusal to stand up against police abuse and their blatant corruption overshadowing their valuable resources, I felt like they simply did not want "certain" types of Americans to own firearms. When I finally came around to ownership (thanks in part to websites like this!) and support of the 2A as a matter of right, I still rejected the NRA. And some of these alternatives seem to be just as bad, going well beyond the scope of simply and reasonably standing up for 2A rights, tossing in childish political digs, aligning with the authoritarian far-right (who would most certainly take away guns from a lot of us if given the chance) and exaggerated alarmism. All of these things are ultimately self-defeating, as we've seen with the NRA. Why does it seem to be so difficult to find a large organization that will either stick to their mission, or stand up for all rights, when they are increasingly being taken away by both the right and the left?
This is precisely the type of perspective lacking in these meaningless discussions by boring corporations claiming to care about the 2A. Very well said.
Everyone should thank the NYSRPA for bringing on NYSRPA V Bruen. New york state is retaliating big time against gun owners for this decision. Please join or donate to NYSRPA to help us out! even if you arent a new york resident. These laws and decisions effect you!
I have been an inconsistent NRA member...my membership lapses and I renew. I am curious as to political dilution with fragmented groups. We always come to 2A fights (a good thing when our 2A is threatened), but we lack an offense ground game. Why aren't 2A groups proactive, looking towards solutions or alternatives to universal background checks? How about transactional permit to purchase. How about real accountability towards illegal gun transactions?
I am looking for a member of the U.S. Supreme Court Bar to file my Amicus Brief in support of the right to carry to No.20-843 New York State Rifle & Pistol Assn v Keith M.Corlett. Any referrals you might have would be appreciated. Most pro-Second Amendment organizations are filing their own briefs and are conflicted out.
The Second Amendment is the right to keep and bare arms in order to be a well regulated militia (meaning a military force that is raised from the civil population) and protect the free State from all enemies, both foreign and domestic. In order to do that, a well regulated militia must be armed the same way the military arms their soldiers.
When the colony militias fought against the British during the revolutionary war, they used weapons equal to that of the soldiers. The pivotal role they played during the war, to fight against the tyrannical government in order to achieve independence from the Crown is why the Second Amendment is there. Should the American citizen have a need to form a well regulated militia to fight against a foreign enemy on our own Homeland, or take up arms against our own tyrannical government, we must be as well armed as our own military (our government will not arm the average citizen in either of those situations). We must also be able to defend our property as well as our family.
I'm not saying to allow the average citizen to have tanks, attack helicopters and fighter jets. A typical soldier in the military has a M4 with seven 30 round magazines as a basic combat load. Those rifles are semiautomatic, have hand grips, and are equipped with optics and other accessories.
I'm a disabled veteran, husband and father. I will defend my country, my land, and everyone I love, with more than a bolt action hunting rifle with magazines that only hold five rounds.
Maybe instead of taking away guns, the government should encourage and empower the average citizen to have firearms, concealed handguns, and become a well regulated militia. If 30 people out of every 50 was armed when they went shopping or to the movies, then in those places, it would be one gunman against 30 armed citizens. They can defend themselves. More armed citizens means less crime and death because of criminals. Criminals will always find a way to perpetrate a crime and disarming citizens will not protect them. It will only make it easier for the crime to be committed.
I wholeheartedly agree with you. The reason why the government does not encourage more people to carry and get training is because they have no interest in lives or our liberties, they have shown over and over again they care more about power and control. Lets face it, a population that is broke and in debt, completely divided, uneducated on their own history and liberties, and unarmed is very easy to control. The more they normalize hatred of guns, the easier it is to take them.
Nicely said. A well rounded statement by someone who knows and understands our history. Thank you.
Just like many long lived organizations, the NRA has had problems moving into the 21st century. Everything from the Boy Scouts to the Catholic church, has had to change their way of doing things and clean up their act or face the consequences, and while the NRA has different kind of problems than those two, their problems are due to their longevity and the heads of the organizations becoming disconnected from their membership.
However with the threat from those who would outright ban guns tomorrow once again in power, today isn't the time to switch ships.
Regardless of what their problems are, none of the other groups comes close to the membership or clout the NRA has. Perhaps they are given to much credit but the opposition legislators still pay attention to their membership.
Rather than outright a random them I suggest picking an organization to support along side the NRA until one group or the other gains enough membership to be taken seriously by government.
Political infighting by pro 2A folks is really the last thing we need at this moment. Heller gave gun rights a big shot in the arm but having both houses of congress and the presidency, combined with desires to pack the court, add states and end the filibuster could wipe out all that has been done in forty years. One mind is needed at the moment, we can argue about particulars later.
The Socialist Rifle Association (SRA) has chapters, in some cases several, in 42 states and should be included here. https://socialistra.org/chapters/
Many gun enthusiasts on the right wrongly assume that socialists and communists are opposed to gun rights. They forget that in many socialist countries, it was precisely by arming the working class and peasant majorities that they overthrew old despotisms and drove out foreign colonialist and imperialist powers in the first place. As Karl Marx said in the aftermath of the defeated Revolutions of 1848: “Under no pretext should arms and ammunition be surrendered; any attempt to disarm the workers must be frustrated, by force if necessary.”
While socialist countries have generally taken the "well-regulated" part of "a well-regulated militia" more seriously than much of the U.S. does, access to, and education in the use of, firearms is a far more widespread in those countries than the Cold War propaganda-drenched imaginations of many Americans might suggest. Most have or have had some form of universal military service and enroll a large fraction of their female and non-military age populations in regional civilian defense forces as part of military doctrines based on the mobilization of the whole population against anticipated foreign (often U.S.) intervention.
And what happened after those despots were overthrown?
From the education and proficiency POV, who would be the alternative since NRA been lacking in those areas.
I live in Illinois and the Illinois State Rifle Association does a great job with regards to education and proficiency. They offer recreational shooting leagues at their outdoor range, classes and certifications, and your membership also includes a monthly newspaper full of information about pending legislation and the various shooting sports. Highly recommended for those living in Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin and Indiana.
It looks like the link to American Rifle & Pistol Association goes to a Sacramento gun store list.
All the reporting on NRA’s financial abuses has turned me off. Exorbitant salaries ought not be supplemented by absurdly self-important wardrobe and travel indulgences. They disparage folks on public assistance (yes, some public assistance recipients are frauds) with broad strokes, yet NRA leadership hasn’t just asked for handouts, but smugly reached into the cookie jar maintained by my membership dues and taken without my consent. So, no more giving the NRA my hard-earned money until it cleans up its act. In the interim, I’ll support alternative 2A advocacy groups. Grace and Peace
Exactly my view, I dropped membership 2 years ago because of the graft and corruption.
GOA with no mention of Larry Pratt? Larry and his ties to white supremacists are kind of important.
Given the political "shootout" occurring in Virginia these days, I'm surprised you didn't list the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL). VERY active in opposing anti-2A efforts in Richmond!
The NRA takes all the incoming from the gun-grabbers. Problems? Maybe, but they can be fixed. Turning away from the NRA is the best thing Bloomberg can imagine. The other groups are mostly just noise by comparison. Contribute to them all, but the NRA is now and has been, since after the Civil War, the standard bearer for Gun Rights, marksmanship, and training like none other.
Though the NRA has frustrated me with their insider problems and compromising on gun control issues, you're absolutely correct. When anti-gunners talk about fighting the pro-gun lobby, the name that always rolls off their lips is the NRA. I don't even think the average NRA member understands how much clout they have.
GOA and Second Amendment foundation file law suits to support our Second Amendment rights...the NRA asks for donations.....says it all...
the NRA files lawsuits as well....quite a number....
In my opinion, the NRA has failed gun owners by focusing on lobbying and less on responsible gun ownership practices, training, education, and community. A lot of the gun control measures we see come from an place of ignorance and fear. If the NRA had been less partisan and more educational, they may have been able to head-off some of those measures.
First and foremost, the NRA is a lobbying group that fights for 2nd Amendment rights, all of the training, education, etc is secondary. So your first sentence is somewhat misguided, though I understand you said it is your opinion. In the rest of the paragraph you contradict yourself. You say they should lobby (i.e. "politics") less, and be less partisan (i.e. "politics"); but you expect this would make them more politically powerful to head-off gun control measures?
In Washington, the "nice guy" schtick doesn't work. The best lobbying groups are straight up bullies, and that's how you head off gun control measures. As far as I'm concerned, the NRA's job is fighting for ALL of my gun rights (not just the ones they choose, but ALL); all of the other stuff -- training, education, gun ownership, etc -- that's just part of the PR branch.
Schitz According to their papers and tax forms their primary goal as a NOT FOR PROFIT is education . If they want to be a commercial enterprise they can register as such. t is very important distinction
There are even .more special interest groups for people on the left. www.theliberalgunclub.com and www.liberwlgunowners.org for a start.
USCCA (United States Concealed Carry Association) should also be on your list. It has over 250,000 members, a mission that is admirable, and it is working to upgrade its training programs for instructors and members. It also offers insurance programs if one ever has to defend themselves in criminal or civil court.
Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (JPFO) is an excellent organization that should be on your list.
JPFO is the best! You don't have to be Jewish (I'm not) to make the best use of your money and join this group. They make the NRA look like Pikers.
I might be a tad biased, but on the state level the VCDL is by far one of the best pro 2A groups in the country. I strongly suggest you sign up for their email alerts wether or not you live in Virginia as they do send out notices on national issues as well. Number 2 on my state level list is the WVCDL. Opencarry.org is pretty good too, they don’t care how you carry, just that you do, and aren’t a FUDD.
VCDL must be Bloomburg approved. I will be glad to give them props after they get all the new Virginia laws about to be passed reversed.
Great article, Megan! I didn't know there were so many alternate groups. Hope some of them really take off. I think a strategy of unity rather than division is the way to go, even if its through multiple groups instead an increasingly toxic and exclusive monolith.