The National Rifle Association (NRA) perhaps stirs the emotions of the pro-gun and anti-gun proponents like no other organization. On of the latest NRA slogans is “Stand and Fight”, referring to fighting for American citizens’ 2nd Amendment rights. By far the NRA gets most of its publicity, both pro and against, from its media actions and lobbying for pro-gun legislation.
What you may not know is that the NRA does more than just fight for gun rights. In fact, the political actions of the NRA may be dwarfed when compared to the work done to train and educate Americans on safe gun handling, marksmanship, self defense and more.
The NRA was formed in 1871 by two Union officers who had observed terrible marksmanship during the Civil War. The purpose: to “promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis” is still a major guiding principle. The Creedmoor range was established in 1872 on Long Island, New York, but political pressure forced the NRA to move the national range first to New Jersey, and finally to Camp Perry, Ohio.
Since then NRA has expanded from simple marksmanship programs, to being the nation’s leading police and civilian firearms training organizations. Today, nearly 6,000 people come to Camp Perry to compete in pistol, small-bore, and high-power events. It has also become one of the nation’s largest civil rights organizations, fighting to protect 2nd Amendment rights for all law-abiding citizens.
Here are just a few of the very important pro-gun functions that NRA promotes:
- The establishment of hunter and youth hunter education programs across the United States and Canada.
- The Eddie the Eagle GunSafe Program teaches elementary students who find a firearm to “Stop, Don’t Touch, Leave the Area, Tell an Adult”.
- Refuse To Be A Victim training seminar.
- Basic handgun, rifle, and shotgun courses and competitions – 750,000 trained/year.
- NRA Firearms instructor program – 55,000 strong
- NRA Law Enforcement training
- NRA instructor programs – over 10,000 strong.
- NRA Sponsored gun shows.
Recently, the NRA undertook a massive National School Shield safety program in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Under the direction of former NRA President and U.S. Senator, Asa Hutchinson, NRA has offered free training for school staff, and security officers to be armed and effectively respond to active shooters in the nation’s schools.
The program seeks only to provide the training for those districts that choose to have the program, and does not seek to make the training or arming of school staff mandatory. Despite a wide scale attack on the program for the mere mention of arming responsible individuals inside the school, the program was put together with the assistance of some of the nation’s leaders in law enforcement, security, school resource officers, and public school districts and transportation.
What most probably do not know is that the NRA did not begin active political activities until the changing political landscape led the Association to create the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) in 1975. With the purpose of actively lobbying Congress on firearms and 2nd Amendment related legislation, the NRA-ILA has become one of the most influential lobbying groups in America. Prior to the creation of the ILA, the only political activity of the NRA was to mail members legislative facts in 1934 so they could vote more informed.
If you have not considered a membership in the National Rifle Association, take the time to review the many benefits the organization has to offer. Though they may have more recognition from their political efforts, the NRA still uses the vast majority of their funds to actively promote a wide variety of marksmanship, personal safety, and instructor programs including the following:
- Basic Pistol, Rifle, and Shotgun courses
- Civilian and Police Firearms Instructor
- Eddie the Eagle Gunsafe child safety program
- Refuse To Be A Victim
- Civil Rights Defense
- Freedom Action Network
- Discounts from businesses and service providers
- Supplemental Life and Firearm insurance
- ILA legislative support
Though the NRA is often portrayed as a controversial organization of the extremists, the recent moves to unilaterally alter the firearms freedoms of law-abiding Americans should really give firearms owners and freedom advocates pause. The passage of the contradictory and Draconian New York SAFE Act, and anti-gun laws in Colorado can only serve as notice of the intent the anti-gun lobby will continue to seek.
California, New Jersey, Illinois, and other states continue to be unduly restrictive. With the current Administration threatening to use Executive Order to create laws, instead of guide or clarify Agency action, the threat to our freedoms and the firearm industry remains as relevant today as it did
It wasn’t until the failed Clinton “Assault” Weapons Ban from 1994-2004 that I really began to see my freedoms in a whole new light. I never thought it would be possible to pass that ban, especially with the generally pro-gun atmosphere in America, but then it went into effect.
For the last 20 years the firearms community has been under attack en force in one way or another. Every time a shooting tragedy occurs the mainstream media immediately chimes in with hyperbole that all guns are evil, and anyone who owns one is evil or deranged too.
Despite the never-ending flow of mail once a person joins the NRA, the benefits truly outweigh any negatives. With 5 million members and growing I cannot think of another organization that is in a better position to protect law abiding citizens rights, while promoting the safe handling of firearms through a multitude of training opportunities and shooting competitions. I’ve been a yearly member since the late 1990’s and a NRA Life Member since 2001. I’ve now added my family to the ranks as well.
So where do you stand?