Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Original Reason the NRA Was Founded

Union Soldier 
A Union infantryman in uniform, carrying a large rifle and bayonet, during the U.S. Civil War


Today and for the last fifty years or so, the National Rifle Association has been a powerful political group best known for its staunch defense of Americans’ rights to bear arms. When it was granted a charter by New York State on this day—Nov. 17—in 1871, it had a very particular reason for coming into being.

As TIME’s Richard Lacayo explained in a 1990 feature about the group, “The N.R.A. was founded in 1871 by a group of former Union Army officers dismayed that so many Northern soldiers, often poorly trained, had been scarcely capable of using their weapons.”

The original call for the organization of such a group came from an article by Col. William C. Church in an August 1871 issue of the Army and Navy Journal. In it, he cited the success of Britain’s National Rifle Association and its—confusingly named, at least to modern readers—Wimbledon riflery tournament range: though he had originally believed that the National Guard ought to organize such a club, he would turn to private enterprise for speed’s sake. 

“An association should be organized in this city [New York] to promote and encourage rifle-shooting on a scientific basis. The National Guard is to-day too slow in getting about this reform,” Church wrote. “Private enterprise must take up the matter and push it into life… 

The subject has already been presented to several enterprising officers and ex-officers of the National Guard, and they have been found enthusiastic in the matter. It only requires hearty co-operation and an actual start to make the enterprise successful.”


  1. Getting around the slowness of the political process by delving into the private sector was a smart move. Especially the focus on training citizens and not just the reserve forces and National Guard. Keep that in mind, even then, they considered firearms proficiency by civilians to be important to overall national security.
    The Wimbledon tournaments still seem to be running. And speaking of shooting competitions, the Civilian Marksmanship Program just opened a state of the art facility in Talladega,

    Much has been said of the NRA's move into political activism though from what I've read, that is about when the various gun control groups got their start too. Sort of makes you wonder if the gun control lobby was the cause of this movement into the protection of gun rights. Which actually makes pretty good sense. After all, its pretty hard to maintain shooting proficiency among the citizenry when they aren't allowed anything to shoot with.

  2. The NRA still provides a great deal of training in marksmanship, concealed carry, and gun safety (and as SSG has repeatedly pointed out, the NRA's commitment to gun safety training is in marked contrast to the utter lack of such training provided by the so-called "gun safety" groups).

    While it's true that the NRA of the 19th century didn't have the political focus, in addition to it's training efforts, that it does now, that is very likely for the simple reason that political protection of gun rights wasn't necessary at that time, because they weren't under attack. Well--OK, they were in some Southern states, for African-Americans victimized by the KKK (America's first "gun control" group), but as the article points out, the NRA started out as a Northern project, and probably wasn't active in the South. Now, however, that the American people's most savage, twisted enemies want to trample our Constitutionally guaranteed, fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms, that political focus is absolutely necessary.

    1. Yes, but will it prevail?

      Not sure what your "it" refers to there, but that doesn't really matter, I suppose, because I don't claim to be a fortune teller, and thus freely admit that I don't know. I am confident that passing restrictive "gun control" laws will be the easy part of your ilk's forcible citizen disarmament mission. It's enforcement, without massive (and if necessary, violent) non-compliance, that I think will be utterly impossible, and I will do my best to contribute to that difficulty.

  3. The current NRA is not promoting training, or safety. Too bad you know nothing about when, or why anti gun groups got started, but not surprising.

    1. "The current NRA is not promoting training, or safety."

      Cool, we get to go over this again? Wasn't that long ago, but I'm all for it,

      "Whereas major anti-gun efforts such as the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence operate at the policy level, away from most people's concrete fears and concerns, the NRA is hands on: More than 750,000 Americans go through some kind of NRA training every year."

      I especially like how the article mentions how the gun control lobby lives up at a policy level, a place known to soldiers as "echelons above reality" as opposed to the NRA actually improving things one person at a time, albeit numbering in the hundreds of thousands.

    2. You say much that makes me laugh SS. You have been caught in lies many times, bit to claim the anti gun movement started with the Brady bill truly shows how uneducated you are, which shows why your positions are so stupid.

    3. "You have been caught in lies many times, bit to claim the anti gun movement started with the Brady bill truly shows how uneducated you are, which shows why your positions are so stupid."

      This is sort of funny Anon. While I'm not surprised to be more knowlagable in the area of firearms since that is part of my life history, having to school a someone on the other side of the issue on the history of organizations they support.
      The Brady Campaign was originally called the National Coalition to Control Handguns in '74. And The Brady website seems to have skipped the time where they were called Handgun Control Inc. when they drafted the Brady bill.
      The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence was also formed in '74 but was called the National Coalition to Ban Handguns.
      As you can tell by the names, they've tried to reimage themselves into a more middle of the road look. But the original names sort of point to their true intent.
      So we have these plank owners of the gun control lobby originating in the mid seventies and a short time later, the NRA goes from informing members of legislation which started back in 1934 into direct lobbying a few years after the gun control lobby was formed.

      "It was not until 1977 when the NRA that Americans know today emerged, after libertarians who equated owning a gun with the epitome of freedom and fomented widespread distrust against government—if not armed insurrection—emerged after staging a hostile leadership coup."

      In fact, one could make the argument that the appearance of these groups that actually included words like "ban" in their name could easily resulted in a drastic policy and leadership change since apparently the past policy of cooperation was going to be changing in a big way.
      It sort of sounds delightfully ironic to me. We have the "Old and Good" NRA that was known for,

      "It is hard to believe that the NRA was committed to gun-control laws for most of the 20th century—helping to write most of the federal laws restricting gun use until the 1980s."

      To the Evil and Bad NRA known for this,

      "Today and for the last fifty years or so, the National Rifle Association has been a powerful political group best known for its staunch defense of Americans’ rights to bear arms."

      And it could all be the fault of the gun control lobby not being satisfied with cooperating with the NRA for "reasonable gun laws for its time. Remember, back then pretty much every state in the union had a may-issue carry permit system.
      And most especially humorous that the gun control lobby of today is trying to pain themselves as the reasonable ones who want to pass "common sense" gun laws when it appears the NRA beat them to it long ago.
      I wonder what the gun laws of today would have looked like if the NRA hadn't made this leadership change. Sounds like potentially a huge dose of karma being served to the gun control lobby.
      BTW Anon, I never said that the anti gun movement started with the Brady bill, but just a few years prior, the NRA seems to have woken up to the true intent of the gun control lobby, and the rest is, as they say, history.

    4. You aren't schooling anyone Mr. Smug. Thanks for stating you think the anti gun movement started in 1974. It proves how dumb you are. Educate yourself Mr. Know-it-all. The anti gun movement is older than this country.

    5. "The anti gun movement is older than this country."

      An interesting assertion Anon. Do you possibly have a source? Say an article from the Coalition to Stop Musket Violence?

    6. Say an article from the Coalition to Stop Musket Violence?

      Nice one!

    7. "The anti gun movement is older than this country."

      I kind of agree. They were called "The British" back then, and it's why our founders wrote the second amendment.