National Rifle Association

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National Rifle Association

The National Rifle Association (NRA) is an organization that promotes the sport of shooting rifles and pistols in the United States. In 2001, the NRA had replaced the American Association of Retired Persons as Washington's most powerful Lobbying group, according to Fortune magazine's top 25 list. The organization reports a membership of more than 4 million, which included 1 million new members alone in 2000. The membership includes hunters, target shooters, gun collectors, firearms manufacturers, and police personnel. From its headquarters in Washington, D.C., the NRA has been a dominant voice in the debate over Gun Control.

With a budget of more than $200 million, the NRA maintains its own $35 million state-ofthe-art lobbying machine, which includes as its major branch the NRA Institute for Legislative Action. The lobbying component is complete with an in-house telemarketing department, its own newscast, and 1 million political organizers at the precinct level. The NRA considers itself America's foremost defender of the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which preserves the right of the people to bear arms.

The NRA platform prefers gun safety programs and the intensified enforcement of existing federal gun laws to an increase in the number of restrictions on gun owners.

Formed by New York charter in 1871, the NRA defined its original goal to "promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis," according to co-founder Colonel William C. Church. He and fellow co-founder, fellow Union veteran George Wingate, were dismayed by the lack of sportsmanship shown by Union troops and wanted to set up a rifle range for practice. With contributions from New York State, the new organization purchased the Creed Farm on Long Island in 1872 and opened it to members in 1873 under the name of "Creedmoor," the first official NRA shooting range. When political opposition to the promotion of marksmanship arose in New York, Creedmoor was deeded back to the state. A new range was established in Sea Girt, New Jersey.

The NRA targeted America's youth from the onset, and by 1903 was promoting shooting sports and competition matches through the establishment of rifle clubs at all major colleges, universities, and military academies. In addition to training and education in marksmanship, the association published The American Rifleman, which helped keep its members abreast of new bills and laws affecting firearms. In 1934, the NRA formed its Legislative Affairs Division, which engaged in direct mail efforts to apprise members of legislative facts regarding and analyses of pending bills. Although it was not involved in direct lobbying efforts at that time, the NRA later formed the Institute for Legislative Action in 1975, organized for the "the political defense of the Second Amendment."

During World War II, the association offered its shooting ranges to the U.S. government and helped develop training materials for personnel and industrial security. NRA members also volunteered to reload ammunition for those guarding war plants. Through a series of gun control laws enacted between the World War I and II, Britain found itself virtually disarmed and vulnerable when Germany began its European invasions. The NRA's efforts to encourage assistance for Britain in 1940 resulted in the collection of more than 7,000 firearms for Britain's defense against German invasion.

Following the war, the NRA concentrated on the hunting community and in 1949, in conjunction with the state of New York, set up the first hunter education program. In 1973, it launched its second magazine, The American Hunter. Although hunter education courses eventually became the assumed responsibility of state fish and game departments, the NRA continued to manage its Youth Hunter Education Challenge (YHEC), a program that as of 2003 was active in 43 states and three Canadian provinces, with youth enrollment of more than 40,000.

Since 1956, the association has been instrumental in law enforcement training as well. With the introduction of its Police Firearms Instructor Certification Program in 1960, the NRA became the only national trainer of law enforcement officers, and by 2000, more than 10,000 individuals had become NRA-certified graduates. The association's certified instructors train about 750,000 civilian gun owners each year, conducting gun safety programs for children in addition to personal security and protection seminars, as well as marksmanship training, for adults.

The NRA in the 1990s, in addition to fighting gun control, worked to pass state laws that made it easier for gun owners to carry their weapons in public. The "right-to-carry" movement is based on the idea that any trained, law-abiding citizen has a right to get a permit from the government to carry a firearm. As a result of the NRA's lobbying efforts, 14 states have passed right-to-carry laws and 24 other states have liberalized their statutes.

The NRA has also fought efforts by city and county governments to regulate firearms. It has lobbied for state Preemption statutes, which declare that only the state government may pass firearms laws. Through its efforts, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and several other states passed preemption laws in 1995. Despite its longtime success in fighting gun control, the increasingly belligerent NRA rhetoric became a problem for the organization in the mid-1990s. Former President george h.w. bush, a lifetime member, resigned from the NRA to protest a fundraising letter that contained anti-government statements.

The association announced the publication of its third periodical, The American Guardian, which proved to be less esoteric in content and catered more to topics such as recreational use of firearms and Self-Defense. Concomitant with the new publication was an internal effort to purge the organization of radical, right-wing gun enthusiasts and develop a more general appeal. From 1997 to 2003, actor Charleton Heston served as the organization's president. Kayne Robinson, a former police officer and Marine, took over as president after Heston announced that he was suffering from a neurological disorder

Politically and historically, supporters for both the NRA and the gun-control movement have split along party lines. The NRA essentially backed so-called conservative candidates and views, such as those typically held by the Republican Party or the Libertarian Party; those who sought stricter limitations on gun ownership tended to support Democratic candidates. At the end of the twentieth century, the delineation became more nebulous, not only among politicians but also between lobbying groups. While the organization generally opposes all forms of gun control as abridgements upon individuals' constitutional rights, many NRA members had aligned with what they refer to as "common-sense" gun control efforts. The militant gun control movement, however, splintered into extremist and middle-ground factions within their own ranks. The NRA generally holds that the criminals create gun violence, not the 48 percent of the electorate who constitute law-abiding gun owners.

Further readings

Davidson, Osha Gray. 1998. Under Fire: The NRA and the Battle for Gun Control. Expanded ed. Iowa City: Univ. of Iowa Press.

LaPierre, Wayne R. 2002. Shooting Straight: Telling the Truth About Guns in America. Washington, D.C.: Regnery.

Rodengen, Jeffrey L. 2002. NRA: An American Legend. Fort Lauderdale, Fla.: Write Stuff Enterprises.

National Rifle Association. Available online at <> (accessed July 29, 2003).

Patrick, Brian Anse. 2002. The National Rifle Association and the Media: The Motivating Force of Negative Coverage. New York: Peter Lang.


Gun Control; Libertarian Party.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Another good resource is the National Rifle Association's state affiliate organizations.
If your state is preempted--the National Rifle Association has lobbied to take away the right for cities and towns to pass stricter gun-control laws than the state has--write to your governor and state representatives to regain that right.
Wilder had spent months shoring up votes for the bill, which was opposed by the National Rifle Association. Ronald Hampton, director of the National Black Police Association, which supports gun control efforts, said that the law enforcement community and city officials of Washington, D.C., had long argued that the city's high crime rate was aggravated by the absence of gun control laws in neighboring Virginia.
He said the real estate industry has given more money to politicians than the National Rifle Association, but that group is less infringed upon by legislators because they are powerful lobbyists.
The batch number has been reserved for Heena and she will now be coordinating with the Eley Company in the UK to import it under the Target Olympic Podium (TOP) scheme and will also receive administrative support from the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI).
And then, in the 1960s, the National Rifle Association turned a corner to eventually become the shrill perpetrator of a big lie claiming every politician who didn't agree with their "anti-gun-grabber" agenda was not fit to be called "American," was not a patriot.
Securian Financial Group has said that it has stopped marketing insurance to members of the National Rifle Association (NRA).
"FedEx Corporation's positions on the issues of gun policy and safety differ from those of the National Rifle Association. FedEx opposes assault rifles being in the hands of civilians.
KARACHI -- The National Rifle Association of Pakistan (NRAP) has allocated a quota of seven shooters including two women for the XXI CommonAwealth Games, scheduled to be held in Gold Coast, Australia in April, a spokesman of the association said on Wednesday.
While addressing at the occasion, the Chief Guest appreciated the efforts of National Rifle Association of Pakistan for promoting this exhilarating sport at national and international level.
New York, NY, March 06, 2015 --( Emily Cummins, Director of Tax and Risk Management, National Rifle Association to Speak at the Knowledge Group's Understanding Form 990 for True Nonprofit Transparency Live Webcast

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