Two anti-gun advocacy groups received hundreds of thousands in taxpayer-backed loans as part of the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), newly released records show.
The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence received a loan valued between $350,000 and $1 million, and the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence received a loan between $150,000 and $350,000.
The PPP was billed as a way for small businesses to keep their employees on the payroll during the COVID-19 lockdowns, but a variety of political advocacy groups have also taken advantage of the program.
Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) co-founder Alan M. Gottlieb blasted Brady and Giffords for using taxpayer-backed loans to lobby state and local governments to shut down gun stores.
“The Brady and Gifford groups fought to keep gun stores closed while taking taxpayer funds to stop people from being able to buy firearms and ammunition to protect themselves and their property from violence including rioters, looters and arsonists,” he said.
“More appalling is the fact that, according to their latest tax returns, the Brady and Gifford organizations have several millions of dollars in assets,” Gottlieb noted. “They did not need any taxpayer money to keep their doors open.”
Gottlieb pointed out that the SAF didn’t take any taxpayer money because “that simply would not have been appropriate.” The SAF relied on donations from private individuals to combat the anti-gun lobby’s push to close gun stores during the coronavirus shutdown.
“SAF had to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars from contributors to file lawsuits during the coronavirus shutdowns to keep gun stores open as essential businesses so Americans could exercise their Second Amendment rights,” Gottlieb said.
GunsAmerica reviewed the list of businesses who received more than $150,000 and confirmed that SAF is not on the list. Other gun-related businesses and organizations, however, did receive funds exceeding $150,000.
While the National Rifle Association did not make the list, the NRA-affiliated California Rifle and Pistol Association received a loan between $150,000 and $350,000.
A variety of gun shops and manufacturers also received taxpayer-backed loans, including Noveske Rifleworks ($150,000-$350,000), Connecticut Shotgun Manufacturing ($350,000-$1 million), Budsgunshop.com ($350,000-$1 million), Radical Firearms ($350,000-$1 million), Faxon Firearms ($350,000-$1 million), Taurus Holdings, Inc. ($2-5 million), Daniel Defense, Inc. ($2-5 million), and Midwest Industries, Inc. ($2-5 million).
During the height of the pandemic, both Brady and Giffords pushed hard to shut down gun stores and manufacturers.
“It’s hard to say what’s more brazen, this argument for the gun lobby that stores need to keep selling firearms to sustain law and order or that Trump bought it hook, line, and sinker,” said Giffords Executive Director Peter Ambler in an April 17 press release. “In this crisis, it’s a shame to see this industry group focus more on corporate profits than the interests of gun owners and the safety of all our communities.”
“State and local governments are taking prudent steps to slow the spread of COVID-19, including temporarily closing many businesses that are deemed ‘non-essential.’ Lawsuits and charged rhetoric calling the closure of gun stores ‘unconstitutional’ are simply wrong. These claims are baseless and this concerted effort undermines good faith and needed measures to stop the spread of COVID-19,” echoed Brady President Kris Brown in a March 29 statement.
GunsAmerica reached out to Brady and Giffords for comment but did not immediately receive a response.