Gun Laws & Legislation

Guns & Politics: What You Should Know About The National Rifle Association

Susan Smith Columnist
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Two decades ago, Christopher Buckley,  (the son of the one and only William F. Buckley, Jr.), authored a brilliant piece of satire entitled “Thank You For Smoking.”   Very effectively ridiculing political correctness, the book was hilarious, the film later made of it less so.  The plot was simple, yet effective:  a DC lobbyist, representing the tobacco industry, was close friends with two other lobbyists in Washington, one who represented the alcohol/spirits industry, and the other who lobbied for the firearms industry.  Together they were known as “The Mod Squad,” MOD standing for “merchants of death,” which this irreverent trio found very amusing.  Needless to say, they were shunned by the rest of politically correct Washington, though they continued to serve their multi-billion dollar industries very effectively (witness the continued success of all three of these industries).

One wonders if there is an equivalent of such evil (as classified by the current lefties in power) in 2016 America?  Such a commercial enterprise can in fact be found, though with a twist: everything that was bad about the MOD squad, their triplicate of evil, the multiplicity of the destructive power of their products, their hateful pursuit of profits from their malevolence, can all today be found, but, even more horrifyingly, in one single entity.  All the debauchery, everything that is the personification of evil, regarded as the spawn of Satan, an individual worthy of the hatred of 10,000 suns, all can be found in one single operation that tragically (according to the left) exists in 2016 – is it the Nazi Party of America?  the KKK?  the Communist Party of America?  (of course not) the KOCH brothers?  Not even close.

It is – the National Rifle Association.

The National Rifle Association, known as the NRA, was founded in 1871 by Union veterans Col. William C. Church and Gen. George Wingate, who felt that an organization was needed to exist that would “promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis.”   The NRA’s motto became, and remained for more than 100 years, “Firearms Safety Education, Marksmanship Training, and Shooting for Recreation,” words that were displayed in the front of the NRA’s national headquarters.

The NRA’s first president was a northern Army General, Ambrose Burnside.  One of his first acts as president was to construct a firing range, funded through a $25,000 grant from the State of New York, which is worth more than $500,000 today.  Named Creedmoor, the range opened a year later, and it was there that the first annual NRA marksmanship matches were held. Also, for decades thereafter, various branches of the U.S. military gave surplus guns to the NRA, and sponsored individual shooting contests at Creedmoor.

As political opposition started to grow against the promotion of marksmanship in New York, opposition groups in the state began to demand that the NRA find a new home for its range.  Thus, in 1892, Creedmoor was deeded back to New York, and the NRA relocated to Sea Girt, New Jersey.  Coincidentally, the demand for marksmanship programs grew within the United States, so by the mid 1940’s the location of the championship matches was moved to Camp Perry, on the shores of Lake Erie, near Toledo, Ohio, which is where it remains to this day.  With nearly 6,000 people competing annually in pistol, smallbore and high-power events, the national matches of the National Rifle Association are one of the biggest sporting events held in the country today.

Meanwhile, the NRA “continued its commitment to training, education and marksmanship nationally.” During World War II, for example, the association “offered its ranges to the government, developed training materials, encouraged members to serve as plant and home guard members, and developed training materials for industrial security.”  NRA members proved to be helpful to those who were responsible for guarding war plants, and NRA members also implemented a call to “help arm Britain in 1940,” which resulted in the collection of more than “7,000 firearms for Britain’s defense against potential invasion by Germany.”

The National Rifle Association never faltered in its efforts to serve the needs of America’s gun-owning public.  The organization founded the magazine The American Rifleman in 1923, published nonstop since that time to provide NRA’s constituency with all possible information relating to gun ownership in American; it started the law enforcement training by becoming the only national trainer of law enforcement officers with the introduction of its NRA Police Firearms Instructor Certification Program in 1960. Today, there are “more than 13,000 NRA-certified police and security firearms instructors. ”  Ever mindful of changes in public attitudes about gun ownership in America, officials at the NRA decided to form the Legislative Affairs Division in 1934, and while the NRA did not lobby directly at this time, it did start to mail out documents outlining legislative facts and analyses to members, enabling them to take action on their own. In 1975, recognizing the critical need for political defense of the Second Amendment, NRA formed the Institute for Legislative Action.

In 1990, the NRA made a further dramatic move in order to ensure that the financial support for firearms-related activities would be available for current and future times by “establishing the NRA Foundation, a 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt organization, (which) provided a means to raise… dollars to fund gun safety and educational projects of benefit to the general public.” Contributions to the Foundation were determined to be tax-deductible and were designed to benefit “a variety of American constituencies including youth, women, hunters, competitive shooters, gun collectors, law enforcement agents and persons with physical disabilities.”

As they say about themselves, “while widely recognized today as a major political force and as America’s foremost defender of Second Amendment rights, the NRA has, since its inception, been the premier firearms education organization in the world. But our successes would not be possible without the tireless efforts and countless hours of service our nearly five million members have given to champion Second Amendment rights and support NRA programs.”

Have you ever heard of such an evil organization?  The left loathes the National Rifle Association, and will continue to do so, vociferously, until it is no longer as outrageously successful as it is right now.

Merchant of Death, indeed.


Click on the article below to get caught up on Susan’s previous articles:

Gun & Politics: Hadrian Built A Magnificent Wall, And It Worked

Guns & Politics: The Battle Of Athens, Tennessee

Susan Smith brings an international perspective to her writing by having lived primarily in western Europe, mainly in Paris, France, and the U.S., primarily in Washington, D.C. She authored a weekly column for Human Events on politics with historical aspects.. She also served as the Staff Director of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Children, Family, Drugs and Alcoholism, and Special Assistant to the first Ambassador of Afghanistan following the initial fall of the Taliban. Ms. Smith is a graduate of Wheeling Jesuit University and Georgetown University, as well as the Sorbonne Nouvelle in Paris, France, where she obtained her French language certification. Ms. Smith now makes her home in McLean, Va.