The world of social media can be a confusing place sometimes, especially in the midst of tumultuous news. And, as it turns out, when identical acronyms get involved ― some people are confusing the National Restaurant Association and the NRA, the acronym most closely associated with the National Rifle Association, mistaking the U.S. restaurant industry's foremost lobbying arm with that of the gun industry.
The reason for the confusion, to the extent it happens, is pretty obvious. Both organizations share identical initials, which means it's easy to casually mistake one for the other if their names aren't fully written out. And they both donate to candidates and elected officials, lobbying for their respective political interests. And, more crucially, the National Rifle Association (which from here on out will be referred to as "the NRA") is the subject of an immense amount of criticism and scrutiny from progressives and gun control advocates right now.
The mix-up over their identical acronyms is what first raised the media's attention. For the record, the National Restaurant Association tells Bustle that, “No, this confusion does not happen often.”
It did, however, result in Sen. Tammy Duckworth moving to correct the record last month, clarifying that she has not accepted NRA money, but rather received a $50 donation from the National Restaurant Association. Duckworth, who has echoed calls for legislative action on guns, cleared the air in a tweet, while linking to OpenSecrets.org to show that she hadn't, in fact, taken any money from America's foremost pro-gun organization.
It's unclear who precisely tipped Duckworth off to this potential source of confusion, but there are some other people telling similar stories on social media. One user, for example, claimed they were taken aback to find a learn they'd made a $15 credit card payment to the NRA, only to realize it was because their child had to join the National Restaurant Association to get a job at a yogurt shop.
Another user tweeted that they'd been asked by their accountant why they had a charge to the NRA on their work-issued credit card, apparently unaware that the pro-gun group shares its initials with a major restaurant industry organization.
Yet another Twitter user suggested that the National Restaurant Association ought to change its name, suggesting that its shared initials with the NRA are being "rubbed in the mud" as a result.
The National Restuarant Association was first founded in 1919 ― while the other gun-centric NRA was founded in 1871 ― and one similarity with the gun-centric group is that they're both powerful lobbying forces in the halls of Congress, and they've both drawn some criticism and controversy, albeit for very different reasons.
In particular, the National Restaurant Association has been instrumental in fighting increases to the minimum wage nationwide. In 2013, the association promoted its efforts to combat minimum wage increases in a number of states. As it stands now, the federal minimum wage sits at $7.25 per hour, and for tipped jobs like waiters, it's just a staggeringly low $2.13 per hour. Although, if a server's earnings in a given week come out to below $7.25 per hour, the employer is legally required to make up that difference.
That said, the National Restaurant Association's mainstream reputation is nowhere near as controversial or hotly criticized as the NRA's is right now, owing to the ongoing national dialogue about gun violence sparked by the deadly Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, last month. That clearly hasn't stopped it from occasionally being mistaken for the pro-gun group, however, as a number of confused comments across social media have shown.