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NRA ROLLS SHRINK; INCREASED FEES RECEIVE THE BLAME

After two years of steady but expensive membership growth, the National Rifle Association has lost more than 300,000 members this year.

The five straight months of membership declines, following a brief increase in January, left the group with just under 3.2 million members at the end of June, according to internal NRA documents obtained by The Associated Press. The NRA blamed the drop on an increase in membership fees.The defections come at a pivotal time for the group whose finances have become precarious, accentuating the need for every membership dollar.

Since 1992, the NRA has seen its spending on membership promotion jump by more than 130 percent, records show. And while revenues have climbed, the NRA also cut its cash and investments from about $103 million in 1991 to about $52 million at the end of 1994 - with much of that money going into membership development.