The NRA added more than 500,000 members in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, based on their latest magazine circulation reports.
Back in January and February, the NRA was making claims about its size and growth to ward off potential gun control legislation after the December 2012 school shooting in Newtown, CT. Mother Jones and the Washington Post both looked into the claims using my method of examining the publicly available numbers of paid subscribers to the three major NRA publications. Since NRA membership comes with a free subscription to one of their magazine and that is the only way to subscribe, I suspect that the total number of subscribers is a good proxy for the total number of members.
The NRA recently release circulation reports for the first six months of 2013, giving us the first look at post Newton membership. The total number of subscribers to NRA publications went from 3,096,145 to 3,671,054. The biggest jump was between February and March, when the number of subscribers jumped by 184,575. Given the lag between when people sign up and when they are added to the magazine roles, this most likely reflects change in membership during December, the month of the shooting. This might also underestimate the number of new members that month because there was probably some existing members who choose not to renew their membership during that a month.
This blog also hosted a contest to see who could predict the number of members in June of 2013. Congratulations to Ben Lind for having the closest guess with 3,094,723. This is a tricky time series to estimate because of its strongly cyclical nature. While some of the ups and downs follow the political calendar, others, like the most recent surge, are due to well-framed responses to threats, both of which are harder to predict. My guess is the NRA continues to grow but at slightly slower pace and finishes the year with close to 4 million members.
I’ve made the complete time series available.