The NRA did away with free coffee for its employees, and we all know what that means

Schadenfreude is a dish best served hot, with a nice crema.
Schadenfreude is a dish best served hot, with a nice crema.
Image: Unsplash/Sarah Shaffer
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When companies begin imposing austerity measures, however subtle, employees notice.

In most cases, they can shrug off the change, assuming the Cheez-Its will reappear when the budget is rebalanced. But there’s a tipping point, and the National Rifle Association apparently reached it last week when it killed the one office perk that arguably deserves constitutional protection. It stopped supplying free coffee inside its Fairfax, Virginia, headquarters.

“The whole building was freaking out,” a former NRA employee still in touch with current staffers told The Trace, whose reporters confirmed the coffee crisis was real after contacting three other sources close to the organization.

It turns out the cutback is merely the latest piece of evidence that the NRA is short on cash. In what gun-regulation advocates will read as a hopeful sign, membership fees were reportedly down by $35 million in 2017, and total assets dropped from $217 million to $196 million.

To shore up the coffers, the gun group has increased annual dues two years in a row. It’s also suing the state of New York for tens of millions of dollars, arguing that the state’s tough gun regulations have unfairly cost the group lost income and legal fees. Much of any cash that’s available is said to be going toward the lawsuit.

Soon, it may whittle the number of publications it produces from six to one, and slash the budget for training and education.

“Perhaps the most vivid evidence of belt-tightening at the NRA was its drastically reduced spending on the 2018 midterm elections,” the Trace says. The NRA spent less than $10 million on candidates for the House and Senate; it doled out twice as much on congressional races in 2014 and 2016. (And in this year’s midterms, pro gun-control groups outspent the NRA for a change.)

In a statement, a spokesperson for the gun advocacy group did not deny the coffee moratorium. But critics warn the NRA could be exaggerating its money woes to stir up energy and generous donations from its loyal supporters.

If that’s true, the coffee cut feels like a drastic act for the sake of an illusion. After all, this is the golden era of haute office coffee. Employers have felt pressure to keep up with trends, supplying expensive on-tap cold brew, top-of-the-line espresso machines, and supplies to quell small uprisings by renegade tea gangs.

In light of the NRA news, hold your warm mug a little closer this morning, and remember that any office coffee complaint you harbor is a nice problem to have. Also: the NRA no longer has it.