National Rifle Association-Backed Law Made Possible Internet Ammunition Sales Reportedly Exploited by Colorado Shooter and Removed Recordkeeping Requirements, NRA Reaps Profits From Such Sales Today

NRA Receives Millions of Dollars From Online Sales of Ammo, Other Accessories Through Leading Benefactor’s “Round-Up Program,” M&P15 Assault Rifle Manufacturer Smith & Wesson is NRA’s Latest Million-Dollar Donor

For Release: Wednesday, July 23, 2012

Washington, DC–Changes in federal law that allow virtually anyone to purchase ammunition over the Internet in bulk quantities without any recordkeeping are the direct result of the National Rifle Association’s flagship bill of the 1980s–The Firearms Owners’ Protection Act, commonly known as “McClure-Volkmer”–which was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1986.

Today the NRA receives millions of dollars from online sales of ammunition, high-capacity ammunition magazines, and other accessories through its point-of-sale Round-Up Program, and the organization’s top financial benefactor credits McClure-Volkmer with helping create his fortune from mail-order sales.  At the same time, contributions to the NRA from Smith & Wesson, the manufacturer of the M&P15 assault rifle used in the Colorado massacre, recently topped one million dollars.  Key facts include the following:

  • Prior to passage of the NRA’s McClure-Volkmer bill, interstate ammunition sales by common carrier to private individuals were banned and records were maintained of ammunition sales.
  • NRA benefactor Larry Potterfield–founder and head of MidwayUSA, which claims to stock “[j]ust about everything for shooting, reloading, gunsmithing and hunting,” including ammunition and high-capacity ammunition magazines–credits McClure-Volkmer with helping make his financial fortune possible.  On his company’s website, Potterfield writes, “By 1987, we were doing about $5 million in business, selling mostly to dealers.  The product lines were bulk components and cartridge boxes.  The Volkmer-McClure [sic] law was enacted in October 1987, which removed the restriction of shipping brass and bullets to FFL holders only.  Midway immediately began selling directly to consumers, in addition to selling to dealers” (  According to the NRA, Larry Potterfield and his wife are the organization’s top financial benefactors.
  • The NRA’s lobbying arm, the Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) has received nearly $9.3 million dollars from the NRA Round-Up Program, created by MidwayUSA’s Potterfield.  The program encourages buyers to “round-up” their purchase to the nearest dollar with the difference going to the NRA.  On its website, MidwayUSA states that Round-Up Program contributions from the company total nearly $7.2 million since 1992.  Total Round-Up contributions (MidwayUSA’s and those of other companies participating in the Round-Up Program) to the NRA are nearly $9.3 million (
  • In May 2012 Smith & Wesson, manufacturer of the M&P15 assault rifle used in the Colorado attack, became the most recent addition to the NRA’s Golden Ring of Freedom, which is “reserved for those who have given gifts of cash or assets to the NRA totaling one million dollars or more.”  A May 23, 2012, NRA-ILA press release announcing Smith & Wesson’s financial gift noted that with all of its actions in support of the NRA, “Smith & Wesson’s support far exceeds one million dollars in cash” (
  • In April 2012, Potterfield announced MidwayUSA’s Project 12*12*12, allowing customers “to financially support the NRA’s National Endowment for the Protection of the Second Amendment…Project 12*12*12 will raise money for the critical 2012 elections and will run through November 2012.”  Each contribution is matched by the Potterfields up to $100 per invoice.  According to MidwayUSA’s website, “When you are placing an order with MidwayUSA, or if you just want to make a contribution, add one or more of product #121212 to your shopping cart before checking out” (
  • One mass shooter who took part in the NRA’s Round-Up Program through MidwayUSA was concealed carry permit holder George Sodini, who in August 2009 opened fire at an LA Fitness Center in Collier, Pennsylvania, killing three women and wounding nine others before turning the gun on himself and taking his own life (

For more information on gun industry financial support of the National Rifle Association through the Ring of Freedom “Corporate Outreach Program” and the Round-Up Program, please see the April 2011 Violence Policy Center study “Blood Money:  How the Gun Industry Bankrolls the NRA” (




About the Violence Policy Center
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