Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Gun Control History of the NRA

The NRA was founded by William Church and George Wingate after the Civil War. Wingate and Church -- the latter a former reporter for a newspaper not exactly known for its love of gun rights, the New York Times -- both fought in the War on the Union side. They were shocked by the poor marksmanship of Union soldiers and convinced that one reason the Confederacy was able to hold out so long before surrender was because their soldiers had more experience shooting. Church and Wingate's goal for the NRA was to improve the marksmanship of civilians who might one day be called to serve in the military, not to fight gun control.
The author goes on to explain how for most of the 20th century the NRA was actually involved in drafting gun control legislation.  And during those decades they had very little to do with the 2nd Amendment.

All that changed in 1977. That year, the leadership of the NRA decided to retreat from political lobbying and refocus on recreational shooting and outdoors activities. This sparked a backlash among a group of hardline gun rights advocates who were upset that the NRA had endorsed the Gun Control Act of 1968 -- the first significant federal gun legislation since the 1930s. Motivated by the belief that guns weren't primarily for hunting but for personal protection in an era of rising crime rates, the hardliners staged a coup at the annual meeting of the membership, ousting the old leaders and committing the organization to political advocacy.
Shortly after that they picked up La Pierre. And the world has seldom seen anything like it.

What's your opinion?  We've often spoken about the evolving interpretation of the 2nd Amendment, but this article helps us see it from the perspective of the NRA.  Do you think that's helpful? Does the dynamic change in direction undertaken by the NRA lend credibility to the theory that the way we view the 2A has been bastardized over the last 5 decades?

What do you think?  Please leave a comment.


  1. I have to admit that his articles are pretty good, but his Gun Fight is a serious let down.

    There is a reason that the Second Amendment has not been seen as a barrier to gun control, which is lost when the concept of gun rights is tossed into the pot.

    What makes Gun Fight such a disapppointment is the fact that the concept of Standing Armies (as opposed to a citizen's militia) is neglected. The fact that Standing Armies were disliked in British culture is a highly important one and neglecting it removes the Second Amendment from its historic context. Worse, it leaves a lot of questions unanswered until one reads the primary sources and learns that a lot is left out of the debate.

    Of course, the anachronistic nature of the Second and Third Amendments becomes apparent if one realises that the reason they are in the constitution was to make them protections against the establishment of a standing army.

    But, if one realises how much money is wasted on the institution of the Military in the US, that might explain why the historic context of the Second (and Third) Amendment has become target for revisionist history.

  2. I am the admin who briefly posted a comment from yankee farmer - and then deleted it.

    Before I posted it, I followed the link it contained, to check out the accusation made by the commenter that MikeB had
    yankeefarmer said...

    Hey Mike B... nice lifting of my post on Daily Kos:


    CLEARLY, the attributions are correct and proper, as is the use, by MikeB.

    There is NO 'lifting' of a post, or a comment. The facts of NRA gun history are NOT the exclusive property of YF, nor does it appear to me from reading his citation that it was the basis for MikeB's post, in light of the sources MikeB does cite.

    If YankeeFarmer has a specific question for which he expects or requires an answer, the correct forum for that question is an email to the appropriate person or persons. Unfounded and inaccurate accusations of admins have no place in the comment section or on any other part of this blog.

    If you have a complaint, (we are not perfect), bring it to our attention in the proper manner - an email - and we will address if if there is any merit to it. (I would hope and expect that to include an apology or correct where warranted from us.) However, be aware that we are the final arbiters of that decision; it goes with the job.

    SO - Yankee Farmer - you are INCORRECT, AND, you owe MikeB an apology. I will be delighted to moderate that apology when it is in the queue for moderation.

  3. I know yankeefarmer as 43North. In my short career over at Daily Kos he was one of my staunchest adversaries.

    The hallmark of those adversaries was to attack en masse at every opportunity, and when nothing presents itself, to invent something.

    This comment is a perfect example. An Adam Winkler article in HuffPo gets a lot of attention, many posts go up about it, including mine.

    Besides suffering from extreme antagonism towards me personally, 43North/yankeefarmer also suffers from the type of egocentrism which tells him I got my idea from him.

    No need to delete the comments though, as far as I'm concerned.

  4. "No need to delete the comments though, as far as I'm concerned."

    I'm curious about that too. If you refute his comment, why delete it? At that point we have to take your word for it on what he said. Not an easy thing to do.

  5. MikeB didn't delete the comment, Dog Gone did.

    I delete comments as well that do not add to the thread.