National Rifle Association

National Rifle Association
National Rifle Association of America

National Rifle Association logo
Formation November 17, 1871
Headquarters Fairfax, Virginia
Membership 4.3 million
President David Keene
Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre

The National Rifle Association of America (NRA) is an American non-profit 501(c)(4) civil rights organization which advocates for the protection of the Second Amendment of the United States Bill of Rights and the promotion of firearm ownership rights as well as marksmanship, firearm safety, and the protection of hunting and self-defense in the United States.

The NRA sponsors firearm safety training courses, as well as marksmanship events featuring shooting skill and sports. According to a 1999 Fortune survey, lawmakers and congressional staffers considered NRA the most influential lobbying group.[1] Its political activity is based on the principle that gun ownership is a civil liberty protected by the Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights, and it calls itself the oldest continuously operating civil rights organization in the United States. According to its website, the NRA has 4.3 million members.[2]



Union Army records for the Civil War indicate that its troops fired about 1,000 rifle shots for each Confederate soldier hit. General Ambrose Burnside (a former Rhode Island gunsmith) lamented of his Civil War recruits: "Out of ten soldiers who are perfect in drill and the manual of arms, only one knows the purpose of the sights on his gun or can hit the broad side of a barn."[3]

United States infantry armed with potentially accurate rifles often fought using volley tactics, devised for earlier inaccurate smoothbore muskets, because the United States Army had failed to keep pace with European military training for tactical advantage from rifle technology. Civil War veterans led by Army and Navy Journal editor William Conant Church organized the NRA in New York in 1871, with General Burnside as President and George Wood Wingate as secretary. Wingate traveled to Europe and observed European armies' marksmanship training programs. With plans provided by Wingate, the New York legislature funded the construction of a modern range at Creedmore, Long Island, for long-range shooting competitions. Wingate then wrote a marksmanship manual.[3]

After winning the British Empire championship at Wimbledon, London, in 1874, the Irish Rifle Team issued a challenge through the New York Herald to riflemen of the United States to raise a team for a long-range match to determine a British-American championship. NRA organized a team through a subsidiary Amateur Rifle Club. Remington Arms and Sharps Rifle Manufacturing Company produced breech-loading weapons for the team. Although muzzle-loading rifles had long been considered more accurate, eight American riflemen won the match firing breech-loading rifles at Creedmore ranges of 800 to 1000 yards. New York Herald publicity established the obsolescence of muzzle-loading firearms, demonstrated the quality of modern American firearms, provided public support for military marksmanship training, and promoted the NRA to national prominence.[3]

NRA organized rifle clubs in other states; and many state National Guard organizations sought NRA advice to improve their marksmanship through the following years. Wingate's markmanship manual evolved into the United States Army marksmanship instruction program.[3] President of the United States Ulysses S. Grant served as the NRA's eighth President[4] and General Philip H. Sheridan as its ninth.[5] United States Congress created the National Board for the Promotion of Rifle Practice in 1901 to include representatives from the NRA, National Guard, and United States military services. A program of annual rifle and pistol competitions was authorized including a national match open to military and civilian shooters. NRA headquarters moved to Washington, D.C. to facilitate the organization's government role encouraging rifle shooting.[3]

The Civilian Marksmanship Program was authorized by Congress in 1903 and run by the United States Army from 1916 to 1996 to transfer obsolete military firearms to United States civilians to learn and practice marksmanship skills with NRA so they would be skilled marksmen if later called on to serve in the U.S. military.[6] Springfield Armory and Rock Island Arsenal began manufacturing new M1903 Springfield rifles for civilian members of the NRA in 1910. These were identical to standard issue military rifles at the time; although some were stamped with NRA and a flaming bomb symbol on the forward tang of the trigger guard so they would not appear to be stolen government property. Production for military service interrupted sales to NRA members during World War I, but production for civilian NRA members resumed between the world wars.[7]

NRA formed a legislative affairs division in response to debate concerning passage of the National Firearms Act in 1934.[8]

Sport and safety programs

NRA firearms safety programs

NRA headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia

The NRA sponsors a range of safety programs to educate and encourage the safe use of firearms.

NRA hunting safety courses are offered all across the U.S. for both children and adults. In recent years gun safety classes oriented more towards firearm safety, particularly for women, have become popular. Intended for school-age children, the NRA's "Eddie Eagle" program encourages the viewer to "Stop! Don't touch! Leave the area! Tell an adult!" if the child ever sees a firearm lying around. The NRA has claimed that studies prove the "Eddie Eagle" program reduces the likelihood of firearms accidents in the home, and the program is used in many elementary schools nationwide.

The NRA in its instructional guide The Basics of Personal Protection In The Home (published in 2000) has chapters on Basic Firearm Safety and Safe Firearm Storage.

Shooting sports

Historically, the NRA has governed and advanced the shooting sports in the United States. However, in 1992 the NRA ceased to be the National Governing Body for Olympic shooting (USA Shooting is now the NGB), and in 2000 the NRA chose not to be a member of the National Three-Position Air Rifle Council. The NRA is not directly involved in the practical pistol competitions conducted by the International Practical Shooting Confederation and International Defensive Pistol Association, or in cowboy action shooting; both of these types of events have grown dramatically in recent years. The Bianchi Cup, hosted by NRA is considered among the most lucrative of all the shooting sports tournaments.

However, the National Rifle and Pistol Matches at Camp Perry are sponsored by the NRA, which most consider the "World Series of competitive shooting".[9] Commonly known as Bullseye or Conventional Pistol, shooters from the military as well as many top-ranked civilians gather annually in July and August for this well-attended competition. The NRA also sponsors its National Muzzle Loading Championship at the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association's Friendship, Indiana facility.

The NRA functions as a general promoter of the shooting sports. The NRA house magazine, American Rifleman, covers major shooting competitions and related topics, and the NRA offers a publication dedicated to competitive shooting, Shooting Sports USA. Most competitive shooters are NRA members.

The current NRA competitions division publishes its own rulebooks, maintains a registry of marksmanship classifications, and sanctions matches.

The NRA also represents the USA on the International Confederation of Fullbore Rifle Associations (ICFRA), which has as its primary function the administration of the World Long-Range Rifle Team Championships, contested every four years for the PALMA trophy, presented by the NRA for competition by "The Riflemen of The World".

NRA volunteers

Many NRA competitions would not be possible without the help of volunteers. The NRA hosts more than 500 volunteers during the NRA National Rifle & Pistol Championships in Camp Perry, Ohio.

Grassroots fund-raising and shooting support

Friends of NRA is a grassroots fund-raising program that fosters community involvement, raises money, and gives 100 percent of the net proceeds to qualified local, state, and national programs. Working with the NRA’s field staff, thousands of volunteers nationwide participate in the program by organizing committees and planning events in their communities. Monies raised at these events go to The NRA Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. [10]

Established in 1990, The NRA Foundation raises tax-deductible contributions in support of a wide range of firearm related public interest activities of the National Rifle Association of America and other organizations that defend and foster the Second Amendment rights of all law-abiding Americans. These activities are designed to promote firearms and hunting safety, to enhance marksmanship skills of those participating in the shooting sports, and to educate the general public about firearms in their historic, technological and artistic context. Funds granted by The NRA Foundation benefit a variety of constituencies throughout the United States including children, youth, women, individuals with physical disabilities, gun collectors, law enforcement officers hunters and competitive shooters. [11]


The National Rifle Association will issue recognition credentials to individuals who are trained by the Association to be instructors. Divisions of instructor are divided into what are referred to as "disciplines". Each discipline earned is indicative that the person is qualified to teach in relation to that area. Instruction in a particular field includes marksmanship, maintenance, and legalities. Instructors are required to teach at least 1 person per year in each discipline in order to keep their certification in that discipline current. There are varied levels of most disciplines, including Apprentice Instructor, Assistant Instructor, and Certified Instructor. This differentiation is primarily a matter of age and legality. A person can become an Apprentice Instructor as early as the age of 15, with upgrade to Assistant upon turning 18, and upgrade to certified instructor at the age of 21. Per the NRA's policies for instructors, Apprentice and Assistant Instructors are not allowed to conduct courses alone. A certified instructor must be in charge of the course. The NRA recommends that one instructor supervises no more than 4 students on the firing line at one time, though it's not a requirement it is highly recommended, for this reason, and others most instructors work in teams, though Instructors may work alone if they choose. In cases where multiple instructors are present it is not uncommon to have a Range Safety Officer. Instructors and Range Safety Officers are trained by Training Counselors, who are themselves trained by Senior and/or Master Training Counselors or NRA Staff in Training Counselor Workshops Instructors are first and foremost responsible for following and teaching the principles of safety, including the "Three Rules of Safe Gun Handling." Disciplines include (but are not limited to):

  • Home Firearms Safety
  • Rifle
  • Muzzle-loading Rifle
  • Shotgun
  • Muzzle-loading Shotgun
  • Pistol
  • Muzzle-loading Pistol
  • Personal Protection in the Home (The required course for obtaining a Concealed Carry License in Michigan)
  • Personal Protection Outside the Home
  • Reloading Metallic Cartridges
  • Reloading Shotgun Shells
  • Range Safety Officer
  • Chief Range Safety Officer

Instructors not only teach firearms usage, care, and cleaning, but can coach students and other persons and help them develop Marksmanship skills. In order to help encourage firearms practice, the NRA has a Marksmanship Qualification Program. This program is divided into several disciplines and each discipline has multiple awards that can be obtained. The awards are offered for successfully completing each in a series progressively more difficult courses of fire. All of these awards, except Distinguished Expert, are on the honor system. An NRA certified coach or certified instructor must witness the participant successfully complete the course of for this more prestigious of awards. The awards are provided in the form of "rockers" which are typically sewn on below a large round discipline-specific patch. The various awards are as follows:

  • Basic Practical
  • Pro-Marksman
  • Marksman
  • Marksman First Class
  • Sharpshooter; Bars 1-9
  • Expert
  • Distinguished Expert

The ranks Pro-Marksman through Sharpshooter can be self certified, but the rank of Distinguished Expert must be witnessed by another NRA Member, or by an NRA certified instructor or certified coach. The National Rifle Association keeps a list of its registered Instructors and can contact them for those seeking instruction. NRA Instructors can commonly be found at privately owned firearms ranges, and are commonly employed by the Boy Scouts of America on their summer camps. NRA Instructors cannot issue Concealed Carry Permits, or Tax Stamps for restricted firearms types, such writs must be issued at the state, or federal levels of government.

The NRA publishes gun safety rules. Three rules are given special importance and are known as the fundamental NRA rules for safe gun handling:[12]

  1. Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
  2. Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
  3. Always keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.

Relations with other organizations

The National Rifle Association maintains ties with other organizations such as the Boy Scouts of America, and 4-H. NRA relations with these groups include monetary donations, equipment donations to supply firearms ranges, and provision of instructors to assist in their programs. Notably, the Boy Scouts of America has strict guidelines on who is allowed to operate their ranges, the recognized personnel groups including NRA Certified Instructors along with military and law enforcement.

The NRA joined the American Civil Liberties Union and several other civil liberties organizations in joint letters to President Clinton on 10 January 1994 and to the House Committee on the Judiciary on 24 October 1995 calling for federal law enforcement reforms drawing on lessons from Waco and Ruby Ridge.

Political activity

The Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the lobbying arm of the National Rifle Association of America.[13]

Members of Congress have ranked the NRA as the most powerful lobbying organization in the country several years in a row.[1] Opponents of the organization accuse it of unduly influencing political appointments.[14] Chris W. Cox is the NRA's chief lobbyist and principal political strategist, a position he has held since 2002.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, the NRA spent $10 million.[15] In 2011, the organization refused an offer to discuss gun control with U.S. President Barack Obama. In response to the invitation, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre said "Why should I or the N.R.A. go sit down with a group of people that have spent a lifetime trying to destroy the Second Amendment in the United States?" In his statement, LaPierre named Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder (both Democrats) as examples of the "people" he referred to.[16]

Eight U.S. Presidents have been NRA members. They are Ulysses S. Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Richard M. Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush.[17] Although Nixon disavowed his "Honorary Life Membership" in 1969 and Bush resigned in 1992 after a politically charged ad by the Association regarding the BATFE.[18]

Second Amendment

In its lobbying for gun rights, the NRA asserts the Second Amendment guarantees the right of individuals to bear arms. The NRA opposes measures which it believes conflict with the Second Amendment and/or the right to privacy enjoyed by gun owning citizens. Additionally, the NRA has litigated against legislation such as the Brady Bill on the grounds that it conflicted with the Tenth Amendment, not the Second Amendment. Because the NRA considers gun ownership to be a civil right, the organization calls itself the "oldest civil rights organization in the United States", as it was founded in 1871.[19][20][21]

On June 26, 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled for the first time in American history in District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment provides for an individual right to own a gun. The implication of this major decision will play out over the next several decades. However, the lawyer who organized the plaintiffs, Robert Levy, told the Washington Post he is "not a member of any of those pro-gun groups", and the case was funded only by him.[22] The NRA has since been a party to a lawsuit contesting the emergency legislation enacted by the D.C. government, claiming it violates the Constitution by continuing to ban all semi-automatic handguns, and by requiring that any firearm in the home be disassembled, unloaded, and locked away unless there is an immediate threat of violence.[23]

In 2005, the NRA, the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), and others successfully sued New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin and others to stop unconstitutional gun seizures in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. As of March 2006, documents were filed by NRA, SAF, et al. seeking to hold Nagin and others in contempt of court for violating the consent order. The case is National Rifle Association of America, Inc., et al. v. C. Ray Nagin et al..[24][25]

In the first week of March, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the McDonald v. City of Chicago case to further clarify the issue of Second Amendment rights. While the NRA was not involved in McDonald, the NRA's narrower lawsuit against Chicago, known as NRA v. Chicago, was combined with McDonald before the Supreme Court. The Court ruled in favor of Otis McDonald on June 28, 2010. In ruling in McDonald's favor, the Court held that like other substantive rights in the Bill of Rights, the 2nd Amendment is incorporated via the 14th Amendment and therefore applies to the States.

The NRA supported the case of Brian Aitken, a New Jersey resident who was sentenced to seven years in state prison for transporting guns without a carry permit.[26] Wayne LaPierre, VP of the NRA, stated "The NRA's Civil Rights Defense Fund is helping to pay for Brian Aitken's appeal, and we will continue to support legal efforts to free Aitken from his sentence, but the governor can act much more quickly than the courts."[27] On December 20, 2010, Governor Chris Christie granted Aitken clemency and ordered Aitken's immediate release from prison.[28]

Past elections

1980 presidential election

Three days before the November 4 voting in the 1980 presidential election, the NRA endorsed a presidential candidate for the first time in its history, backing Ronald Reagan over Jimmy Carter. Reagan had received the California Rifle and Pistol Association's Outstanding Public Service Award. Carter had appointed Abner J. Mikva, a fervent proponent of gun control, to a federal judgeship and had supported the Alaska Lands Bill, closing 40,000,000 acres (160,000 km2) to hunting.[29]


In the 1994 election the NRA is often credited with defeating Congressmen Jack Brooks and Tom Foley (the first Speaker of the House to lose reelection since 1862). Bill Clinton wrote:

The NRA had a great night. They beat both Speaker Tom Foley and Jack Brooks, two of the ablest members of Congress, who had warned me this would happen. Foley was the first Speaker to be defeated in more than a century. Jack Brooks had supported the NRA for years and had led the fight against the assault weapons ban in the House, but as chairman of the Judiciary Committee he had voted for the overall crime bill even after the ban was put into it. The NRA was an unforgiving master: one strike and you're out. The gun lobby claimed to have defeated nineteen of the twenty-four members on its hit list. They did at least that much damage and could rightly claim to have made Gingrich the House Speaker.

—Bill Clinton, My Life pp 629-30

Past campaigns

Many gun-control laws that the NRA opposed have been passed throughout the country. These laws range from the near-total ban on gun ownership in Washington, D.C. (ultimately found to be unconstitutional in District of Columbia v. Heller), to the outlawing of entire classes of firearms in many states as well as at the federal level, to the licensing of firearms owners in some jurisdictions.

The NRA opposes most new gun-control legislation, calling instead for stricter enforcement of existing laws such as prohibiting convicted felons and violent criminals from possessing firearms and increased sentencing for gun-related crimes. The NRA also lobbies for "shall issue" right-to-carry laws for concealed carry licenses in many states. It also takes positions on non-firearm hunting issues, such as supporting wildlife management programs that allow hunting and opposing restrictions on devices like crossbows and leg hold traps.

One example of the NRA's legislative effectiveness is that, while 7 US states and the District of Columbia still generally restrict the issuance of concealed carry permits ("may issue" or "no-issue"), 38 states have mandatory shall-issue issuance of such permits upon the applicant demonstrating completion of a training requirement or other basic criteria, 3 states have may-issue permits that are liberally issued by local law enforcement, and four states (Wyoming, Alaska, Arizona, and Vermont) allow concealed carry without any permit, training, or testing requirements.[30]

The NRA's policy is that it will endorse any incumbent who supports its positions, even if the challenger supports them as well, as incumbents tend to hold more political power. For example, in the 2006 Senate Elections the NRA endorsed Rick Santorum over Bob Casey, Jr. even though they both had an "A" rating from the NRA Political Victory Fund, because of Santorum's history of support for the NRA's interests in Congress.[31]

1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban

In 2004 the NRA opposed renewal of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban of 1994, which banned many features of certain semiautomatic rifles and certain types of removable magazines - gun control advocates wanted to make the ban permanent and expand it. The NRA succeeded, and the ban expired at midnight on September 13, 2004.[32]

Current campaigns

Confiscations in New Orleans

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, multiple reports of confiscations of civilian firearms by law enforcement began coming out of New Orleans. Firearm searches of evacuees were carried out prior to allowing them into evacuation centers,[33] house-to-house firearm confiscations were conducted,[34] and the superintendent of police was quoted as saying "Only law enforcement are allowed to have weapons" and "We are going to take all of the weapons."[35]

On September 12, 2005 National Rifle Association executive vice-president Wayne LaPierre spoke out against these confiscations. "What we’ve seen in Louisiana — the breakdown of law and order in the aftermath of disaster — is exactly the kind of situation where the Second Amendment was intended to allow citizens to protect themselves," LaPierre said. The NRA filed suit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District in Louisiana.

On September 23, two weeks after seizures began, NRA and the Second Amendment Foundation filed for a temporary restraining order. On September 24, 2005 U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana issued a temporary restraining order barring any further gun confiscations and ordering the return of lawfully owned firearms to their owners. On March 1, 2006, the NRA filed a motion for contempt against the city of New Orleans, its mayor, and the chief of police for failure to comply with the restraining order. On March 15, 2006, lawyers from both sides reached an agreement in the case of NRA v. Mayor Ray Nagin, which is pending before a federal court. The city of New Orleans admitted that it holds a number of confiscated firearms, and the Property and Evidence Division of the New Orleans Police Department is to return the firearms to their owners on request and proof of ownership or affidavit. In the chaos and destruction following Katrina many homeowners have, however, lost everything including the paperwork that would prove ownership. At this time (2006) the majority of the seized firearms have not been returned to the rightful owners. (See Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.)

In June 2006 Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco signed the NRA-backed Act 275, forbidding the confiscation of firearms from lawful citizens during declared emergencies. Similar legislation had already been adopted in nine other states.[citation needed]

On October 4, 2006 President George W. Bush signed into law the NRA-backed Disaster Recovery Personal Protection Act of 2006 (incorporated into the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations bill). This legislation prohibits the confiscation of legal firearms from citizens during states of emergency by any agent of the Federal Government or anyone receiving Federal funds (effectively, any Federal, state, or local governmental entity). Introduced in Congress by Rep. Bobby Jindal and Sen. David Vitter, both of Louisiana, this bill enjoyed broad bipartisan support, passing the House of Representatives with a margin of 322-99 and the Senate by 84-16.

Also see Civil disturbances and military action in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

San Francisco's Proposition H

In November 2005, 58% of voters in San Francisco, California, approved "Proposition H", which would ban the sale, manufacture and distribution of firearms and ammunition (as well as the possession of handguns) within city limits, effective January 1, 2006. (The last gun dealer in the city had closed several years earlier because of a special tax.) San Francisco thereby became the third major city in the United States with a handgun ban, after Chicago and Washington, D.C.

The day after the election, the NRA and other gun advocates filed a lawsuit challenging the ban, saying it oversteps local government authority and intrudes into an area regulated by the state. (A previous handgun ban, adopted in 1984, was successfully challenged on similar grounds.) On June 12, 2006, the Court agreed with the NRA position, saying that California law "implicitly prohibits a city or county from banning gun possession by law-abiding adults".[36]

The City appealed Judge Warren's ruling, but lost in a unanimous opinion from the three judge panel in the Court of Appeal issued on January 9, 2008.[citation needed]


The NRA publishes a number of periodicals including:[37]

In addition to the periodicals, the NRA has published a collection of classic firearms titles through its affiliate Palladium Press LLC. These are collectible leather-bound books available through subscription on a monthly schedule.

Current leadership and policies

The NRA organization is governed by a large (typically 76-member) board of directors. The directors choose the president, the leading spokesman for the organization, from among their members. Although traditionally this position changed annually, for several years it was consecutively held by actor and activist Charlton Heston, who was a compelling promoter of the NRA agenda. Heston became afflicted with Alzheimer's disease and stepped down in April 2003. David Keene is the current president, replacing Ron Schmeits who served 2009-2011. John C. Sigler served 2007-2009. Sandra Froman served 2005-2007. Marion P. Hammer was the first female president, serving from 1995 to 1998.

The organization also has an Executive Vice President, who is not a director but functions as Chief Executive Officer, appointed at the pleasure of the directors. Wayne LaPierre has held this position since 1991. The Executive Director of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action is Chris W. Cox, who has been appointed by LaPierre every year since 2002. Kayne Robinson was also reappointed Executive Director of NRA General Operations.[39]


Annual revenues for the NRA were around $150 million in 1994, up from $66 million in 1986. It spent $15 million on a new headquarters in the 1990s.

The NRA Office of Advancement[40] was created in 2005 to focus on building the NRA's endowment and underwriting programs and projects through strategic, planned, and corporate gifts across the organization - including the NRA, the NRA Foundation, NRA-ILA, the NRA Freedom Action Foundation, the NRA Whittington Center, and the Civil Rights Defense Fund. In 2007, the NRA Office of Advancement launched a new donor recognition society called the Ring of Freedom[41] In 2010, the NRA Foundation was designated a Four Star Charity by Charity Navigator for the eighth consecutive year. The Office of Advancement also coordinates the "I'm the NRA and I Give" advertising campaign[42] and publishes the Ring of Freedom magazine.[43]

According to the Better Business Bureau's web site, the NRA does not fall within the BBB's scope of Standards for Charity Accountability. They do note the following financials for the NRA as of December 31, 2004. The NRA's CEO, Wayne LaPierre, received a yearly salary of $895,897 in 2004. They also indicated that fundraising costs accounted for 46% of the contributions received. The NRA is a 501(c)(4) organization and indicated that the NRA's total income in 2004 was $205,402,491 and had expenses of $206,886,970. Total NRA assets at the end of 2004 were $222,841,128.

Popular culture

The NRA has received both positive and negative criticism in the popular media, and its image has included references in television shows and other forms of popular culture. In 2000, the NRA announced plans (never completed) to open up a NRA Sports Blast in Times Square (New York).[44] The themed restaurant would have featured food, arcade attractions, and other NRA-themed entertainment.[citation needed]


From gun control advocates

The NRA is criticized by gun control groups such as the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, Brady Campaign, Million Mom March, and Americans for Gun Safety. The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence has criticized the NRA for its "warped conception of popular sovereignty...that citizens need to arm themselves to safeguard political liberties against threats by the government."[45] It went on to add that "if [the NRA members] believe in the right to take up arms to resist government policies they consider oppressive, even when these policies have been adopted by elected officials and subjected to review by an independent judiciary, then they are opposed to constitutional democracy." More specifically, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun violence has stated that, as a result of the NRA's lobbying, gun crime has "soared" and a teenager can "purchase an AK-47 semi-automatic assault rifle at a gun show without having to show ID and without a background check."[46] Jim Kessler, of the Third Way (a pro-gun control group that has incorporated Americans for Gun Safety), has also criticized the NRA for promoting a bill that limited information that was disseminated regarding guns that have been used to commit crimes.[47]

A variety of newspaper editorial boards, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and USA Today, disagree with the NRA's policies, such as in September 2004, when the boards called for the extension of the assault weapons ban. Recently, the New York Times has criticized the NRA for promoting politicians that oppose "sensible gun control laws."[48] In addition, the NRA's publications prompted former U.S. President George H. W. Bush to resign his life-long membership[49] after they published an advertisement calling federal agents, specifically those of the ATF, "jack-booted government thugs" out to take away individual gun rights. The NRA later apologized for the letter's language.[49]

From other gun rights organizations

The NRA has been criticized by other gun rights groups for doing too little to get existing restrictions repealed, and sometimes helping to draft restrictive legislation. This critique is most often voiced by gun rights organizations and libertarians or conservatives who take a more comprehensive view of the Second Amendment and Bill of Rights, and are viewed as being less amenable to compromise on these issues, e.g. Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (JPFO), and Gun Owners of America (GOA). GOA has castigated the NRA in the past for what it perceives as its willingness to compromise on legislative restrictions concerning access to firearms.[50]

The JPFO and its leadership has also criticized the NRA's political strategy on several occasions, lambasting what it views as their counterproductive focus on Capitol Hill lobbying, as well as taking the NRA and its leadership to task for not explicitly making a connection between gun control measures introduced in the United States and those implemented by the Weimar Republic and subsequently the Nazi regime in pre-war Germany, as well as other totalitarian, or ineffectual regimes that were eventually overthrown.[51] To a certain extent, this criticism has been addressed in recent years by Wayne LaPierre, who has attempted to convince the public that the atrocities committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the Yugoslavian Civil War, as well as the Rwandan genocide of 1994, can be traced to a lack of institutional, individual gun rights in those countries.

The NRA has also seen internal dissent from its membership, including a prolonged series of verbal attacks and campaigns initiated by Neal Knox, a former vice-president of the organization who attempted to depose both Wayne LaPierre and Tanya Metaksa, the former executive director of the NRA's Institute For Legislative Action, in leadership elections during the late Nineties[52] which Knox described as putting down a "mutiny".[53]

In addition to the generic criticism voiced by other more absolutist gun-rights organizations and public figures, Knox and his supporters allege that the NRA has failed to protect the rights of gun-owners during debates over proposed federal gun laws. They cite the NRA's involvement in the passage of the Firearm Owners Protection Act, otherwise known as the McClure-Volkmer Act, which amended the Gun Control Act of 1968.[54][55] Although this represented a significant liberalization of the 1968 Gun Control Act, the fact that the NRA did not seek its outright repeal led some critics, such as Knox, to assert that it had abandoned its members.[citation needed]

See also



  1. ^ a b "FORTUNE Releases Annual Survey of Most Powerful Lobbying Organizations". 1999-11-15.,20812,667546,00.html. Retrieved 2010-11-21. 
  2. ^ "How many members does the NRA have and how many are women?". Nra-Ila. Retrieved 2011-07-29. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Craige, John Houston The Practical Book of American Guns (1950) Bramhall House pp.84-93
  4. ^ "NRA Institute for Legislative Action News Release". 2003-03-27. Retrieved 2010-11-21. 
  5. ^ "The "Academy" Must Now Share Michael Moore`s Cinematic Shame". Nra-Ila. 2003-03-27. Retrieved 2010-11-21. 
  6. ^ "Civilian Marksmanship Sales". Retrieved 2011-04-13. 
  7. ^ Canfield, Bruce N. American Rifleman (September 2008) pp.72-75
  8. ^ "National Firearms Act of 1934". Retrieved 2011-04-17. 
  9. ^ Standifird, S.L. (2010-09-17). "Making his mark: El Paso sergeant member of winning national rifle team". El Paso Times. Retrieved 9 October 2010. "The national matches are considered America's World Series of competitive shooting and have been a tradition at Camp Perry since 1907" 
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ "NRA Gun Safety Rules". Retrieved 2010-11-21. 
  13. ^ "Who We Are, And What We Do". Institute for Legislative Action. Retrieved 30 August 2011. 
  14. ^ "Power of NRA Showcased in U.S. Delegation to Small Arms Conference". Retrieved 2010-11-21. 
  15. ^ Eunice Moscoso, "NRA campaign against Obama carries $10 million price tag," Palm Beach Post, October 21, 2008)
  16. ^ CALMES, JACKIE (JACKIE). "N.R.A. Declines to Meet With Obama on Gun Policy". New York Times. Retrieved 15 March 2011. 
  17. ^ "Did You Know?". National Rifle Association. Retrieved August 24, 2011. 
  18. ^ Tatalovich, Raymond; Byron W. Daynes (1998). Moral controversies in American politics: cases in social regulatory policy (2 ed.). M.E. Sharpe. pp. 168–175. ISBN 9781563249945. 
  19. ^ Patrick, Brian Anse (2002). 1. Peter Lang. p. 193. ISBN 9780820451220. 
  20. ^ "Lead Ammo-The Truth is Out There Somewhere". 2010. p. 115. ISBN 9781440213625. 
  21. ^ Horner, William T. (2005). Showdown in the Show-Me State: the fight over conceal-and-carry gun laws in Missouri. University of Missouri Press. p. 9. ISBN 9780826215871. 
  22. ^ Post Store (2007-03-18). "Lawyer Who Wiped Out D.C. Ban Says It's About Liberties, Not Guns". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-11-21. 
  23. ^ "NRA, D.C. Residents Take District of Columbia Back to Court Over Gun Regulations". NRA-ILA. 2008-07-30. Retrieved 2010-11-21. 
  24. ^, CNN transcript of NRA video interviews, aired on July 2, 2008 by Glenn Beck
  25. ^ NRA video on YouTube of Katrina victims describing illegal confiscation of personal firearms.
  26. ^ "Freed New Jersey Man Wants Gun Conviction Overturned". Fox News. 2010-12-23. 
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^ Facts on File 1980 Yearbook, p.844
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^
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  40. ^ NRA Advancement: Home.
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Further reading

  • Anderson, Jack. Inside the NRA: Armed and Dangerous. Beverly Hills, Calif.: Dove, 1996. ISBN 0-7871-0677-1.
  • Brennan, Pauline Gasdow, Alan J. Lizotte, and David McDowall. "Guns, Southernness, and Gun Control". Journal of Quantitative Criminology 9, no. 3 (1993): 289–307.
  • Bruce, John M., and Clyde Wilcox, eds. The Changing Politics of Gun Control. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield, 1998. ISBN 0-8476-8614-0, ISBN 0-8476-8615-9.
  • Davidson, Osha Gray. Under Fire: The NRA and the Battle for Gun Control, 2nd ed. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1998. ISBN 0-87745-646-1.
  • Edel, Wilbur. Gun Control: Threat to Liberty or Defense against Anarchy? Westport, Conn.: Praeger Publishers, 1995. ISBN 0-275-95145-6.
  • Langbein, Laura I., and Mark A. Lotwis, "Political Efficacy of Lobbying and Money: Gun Control in the U.S. House, 1986". Legislative Studies Quarterly 15 (August 1990): 413–40.
  • LaPierre, Wayne R. Guns, Crime, and Freedom. Washington, D.C.: Regnery, 1994. ISBN 0-89526-477-3.
  • McGarrity, Joseph P., and Daniel Sutter. "A Test of the Structure of PAC Contracts: An Analysis of House Gun Control Votes in the 1980s". Southern Economic Journal, Vol. 67 (2000).
  • Spitzer, Robert J. The Politics of Gun Control, 2nd ed. New York: Chatham House Publishers, 1998. ISBN 1-56643-072-0.
  • Sugarmann, Josh. National Rifle Association: Money, Firepower, and Fear. Washington, D.C.: National Press Books, 1992. ISBN 0-915765-88-8.
  • Trefethen, James B., and James E. Serven. Americans and Their Guns: The National Rifle Association Story Through Nearly a Century of Service to the Nation. Harrisburg, Penn.: Stackpole Books, 1967.
  • Utter, Glenn H., ed. Encyclopedia of Gun Control and Gun Rights. Phoenix, Ariz.: Oryx Press, 2000. ISBN 1-57356-172-X.

External links

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