Progressive gun control activist on NRA: 'Don't count them out'

Progressive gun control activist Igor Volsky warned Wednesday that advocates shouldn't assume the National Rifle Association (NRA) is on its way out as lawmakers try to find a solution to combat gun violence in the wake of two mass shootings over the weekend.

“We’ll see what happens, but don’t count them out,” Volsky, executive director of Guns Down America, told Hill.TV on Wednesday.

Volsky said that while the NRA is showing signs of a decline, the gun rights group "thrives" even when "it's down" and "finds a way to rise up and become even more powerful."

He pointed to how it recovered following the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, which was carried out by former NRA member Timothy McVeigh.

“In the aftermath of Timothy McVeigh, they got a lot of blowback, they had to apologize for the kind of rhetoric that they used because they would directly recruit from these government extremists,” he told Hill.TV. “There were all these reports — the 'NRA is on its way out', 'everyone is leaving the NRA,' and of course, that turned out not to be the case.”

The NRA, which is already facing declining membership and internal battles among its own leadership, has come under renewed scrutiny following the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, which left more than 30 dead.

The group has been widely criticized by gun control advocates as hindering common-sense gun reform through its lobbying efforts.

Even some Republicans have started to turn on the organization. Rep. Pete KingPeter (Pete) Thomas KingGOP lawmakers blast Trump's Syria decision as 'grave mistake,' 'disaster in the making' Here are the Democrats who aren't co-sponsoring an assault weapons ban Hotel industry mounts attack on Airbnb with House bill MORE (R-N.Y.), who cosponsored a bipartisan background checks bill, said the group is “not as powerful” as it used to be, and predicted that it wouldn't be effective in stopping gun control legislation if it was backed by President TrumpDonald John TrumpBusiness school deans call for lifting country-specific visa caps Bolton told ex-Trump aide to call White House lawyers about Ukraine pressure campaign: report Federal prosecutors in New York examining Giuliani business dealings with Ukraine: report MORE

The group is also facing increasing outside pressure from gun control advocates. 

Hundreds gathered outside of NRA headquarters on Tuesday to remember those killed over the weekend. Attendees also mourned those killed by recent gun violence in Chicago.

Democrats, meanwhile, have called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFury over Trump Syria decision grows Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Trump to slap sanctions on Turkey for Syria offensive | Trump calls on Turkey to broker ceasefire | Pelosi, Graham seek deal on sanctions | Ex-Trump aide testifies in impeachment probe Trump: Let Assad, Russia or China protect the Kurds MORE (R-Ky.) to bring the the Senate back into session during the August recess, so lawmakers can vote on gun-related legislation that has already passed the House.

Trump declared Wednesday that he is “all in favor” of background checks for weapon purchases, and vowed that he would encourage lawmakers to return from their August recess to take action if a deal appeared imminent.

—Tess Bonn