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Photo: Dominick Reuter/AFP/Getty Images

The National Rifle Association has shut down production at NRATV and cut ties with advertising firm Ackerman McQueen, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: It comes amid a tumultuous year for the NRA that's seen Oliver North step down as president in April. The gun rights group was involved in a legal battle with Ackerman McQueen, a contractor for NRATV. North hosted a documentary series on NRATV called "American Heroes." Ackerman's employees included Dana Loesch. They'll no longer be the public faces of the NRA, according to the Times.

What they're saying: "Many members expressed concern about the messaging on NRATV becoming too far removed from our core mission: defending the Second Amendment," NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre wrote in a message to members that the Times reported was expected to be sent out by Wednesday.

"So, after careful consideration, I am announcing that starting today, we are undergoing a significant change in our communications strategy. We are no longer airing 'live TV' programming."

The other side: Ackerman told the Times it's "not surprised that the N.R.A. is unwilling to honor its agreement to end our contract and our long-standing relationship in an orderly and amicable manner."

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

House cancels Thursday session as FBI, Homeland Security warn of threat to Capitol

Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security predict violent domestic extremists attacks will increase in 2021, according to a report obtained by Axios.

Driving the news: The joint report says extremists have discussed plans to take control of the Capitol and "remove Democratic lawmakers" on or about March 4. The House canceled its plans for Thursday votes as word of the possible threats spread.

3 hours ago - World

Pope Francis set to make first papal visit to Iraq amid possible turmoil

Data: Vatican News; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Pope Francis is forging ahead with the first papal trip to Iraq despite new coronavirus outbreaks and fears of instability.

The big picture: The March 5–8 visit is intended to reassure Christians in Iraq who were violently persecuted under the Islamic State. Francis also hopes to further ties with Shiite Muslims, AP notes.

"Neanderthal thinking": Biden slams states lifting mask mandates

States that are relaxing coronavirus restrictions are making "a big mistake," President Biden told reporters on Wednesday, adding: "The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking."

Driving the news: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said Wednesday he will end all coronavirus restrictions via executive order, although some businesses are continuing to ask patrons to wear face masks. Mississippi is lifting its mask mandate for all counties Wednesday, per Gov. Tate Reeves (R).