The National Rifle Association How And Why

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The National Rifle Association: How And Why It Wor Essay, Research Paper The National Rifle Association: How and Why It Works. Darryl Thomas Political Science 1101 Mike Martinez November 23, 1998 The National Rifle Association is an organization of enormous power and influence in the halls of Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.. This nonprofit group is capable of flooding congressional offices with millions of pieces of mail in opposition to any legislation that is felt to infringe on the rights of its members to bear arms. Is it any wonder that there has been no real gun control laws passed in the last century with this kind of opposition? In order to understand the success this organization has had, one must first look at where it has come from and where it is going. The NRA

was first incorporated in 1871 by members of the New York National Guard who felt that the marksmanship of the military was in need of some desperate repair and to promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis ( Bakal 130). To achieve this goal, they lobbied the New York State legislature to provide funding in order to purchase a practice range and operate it. Even in its infancy, it showed a prodigious ability to carve out a political niche that would enable it to grow into the future. As the years went by, the membership continued to grow at a steady pace until the end of World War II when it zoomed to a quarter of a million members. Membership stayed around this mark until a campaign in the sixties to boost enrollment succeeded in pushing it to over half a million

members. Today, the NRA boasts of a membership of 2.8 million people from all walks of life. To accommodate this wide variety of interest, the organization adapted the philosophy: To promote social welfare and public safety, law and order, and the national defense; to educate and train citizens of good repute in the safe and efficient handling of small arms and in the technique of design, production, and group instruction; to increase the knowledge of small arms and promote efficiency in the use of such arms on the part of members of law enforcement agencies, of the Armed Forces, and of citizens who would be subject to service in the event of war; and generally to encourage the lawful ownership and use of small arms by citizens of good repute. (Bakal 131-32)By covering so many

different categories with such a blanket statement, the NRA hopes to justify its position on gun control legislation, a far cry from the original purpose of improving the shooting capabilities of America s soldiers. How does an organization of this magnitude wield its political muscle? The National Rifle Association is governed by a 76-member board of directors elected by the lifetime members. This board directs the day to day operations through 36 standing and special committees. With an annual budget of approximately 80 million dollars, it is easy to understand how the NRA achieves its goal of defeating any major gun control legislation brought before Congress. In 1998, the board of directors elected Charlton Heston as the new president with the hope that his star appeal could

bring credibility and public approval to the organization. There has been a recession in membership due to the radical views of some of the more extreme members of the board who oppose any firearm restrictions what so ever. With the actor who played Moses in The Ten Commandments at the helm, a more mainstream image is being projected. Other ways the NRA influence public opinions are with the publication of it s own magazine, The American Rifleman. This slick piece of propaganda extols the virtues of people who take the law into their own hands in the column, The Armed Citizen. If one visits the official web site, the group has different areas that cover everything from Supreme Court cases that defend 2nd amendment rights to hunter safety courses. One section even has famous