GIVING

Opinion and Commentary from the Charitable Sector

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

The National Rifle Association of America (NRA) is one of the nation’s largest, tax-exempt “social welfare” organizations under the meaning of §501(c)(4) of the federal tax code   Its political power and take-no-prisoners approach to achieving its political aims are legendary.  Put its social welfare designation together with its ruthless, anti-gun control agenda, and you get the Clockwork Orange version of what social welfare organizations used to be. 

Though contributions to 501(c)(4)s  are not tax deductible and gift taxes may apply, the tax designation gives the NRA and similar organizations certain advantages.  They can, for instance, independently participate in campaigns of candidates running for public office—as long as they can demonstrate that political advocacy isn’t their primary activity.  There is enough ambiguity in present I.R.S rules to make compliance a cakewalk. 

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Annie, Get Your Gun

I am a gun owner and you may be one, too.  My arsenal includes a couple of shotguns, two rifles, a .44 magnum, a .22 pistol, and civil war-vintage musket.  The genesis of my becoming a gun owner took place years ago, in the live oak forests of central Florida.  As a young girl, I tagged along with my dad to go squirrel hunting.  He had a fondness for the little nutcrackers, a taste I also acquired given the culinary skill with which he prepared the fixings: braised until fork-tender, smothered in gravy, spiked with plenty of salt and pepper, and then served over hot, buttered biscuits.  If that sounds too gamey for a refined pallet, think again.  It was fine Florida fare.

We enjoyed hunting and being together in the great outdoors.  Here in Florida, blessed as we are with an outdoor paradise, there were plenty of opportunities to hunt.  My dad was up for it all.  We would rise before the sun and head into the woods; or the scrub; or the swamp; or the lake; and the hunt was on.  I learned to hunt rabbit, deer, quail and turkey, too; and, in time, went solo on my own lowbrow expeditions.  After marriage, I kept hunting and joined my rancher-spouse on his excursions. He lived for deer season to roll around and was an avid woodsman.   

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