The National Rifle Association, or more commonly referred to as the NRA, has its roots that can be traced back to the American Civil War.
When it was first formed, the organization was merely club or program designed to teach soldiers the necessary skills in being a proficient rifleman, such as marksmanship and shooting techniques. The NRA was formed by two retired Civil War veterans that were concerned about the lack of skill many of the Union soldiers exhibited in battle. Currently, the NRA is closely associated with the right to bear arms and the protection of the Second Amendment as found in the Bill of Rights.
The two are so closely intertwined that the words NRA and Second Amendment are almost interchangeable, and are often used together in a sentence. As it stands today, the NRA is a powerful political organization that lobbies for gun rights and opposes the restriction on firearms by gun laws (See Also: State Gun Laws, Purchasing Guns, and Illegal Guns). With over four million members among its ranks, the National Rifle Association has become one of the most powerful organizations that has great influence at the political level.
The History of the National Rifle Association can be traced back to Post-Civil War United States. Not many years had elapsed and effects of the war were still present. In 1781, two veteran Union soldiers decided to form the organization with the onset of providing for marksmanship training and shooting techniques after having witnessed the Union's soldiers incapacity with rifles.
By 1872, the NRA established a location for the instruction and practice of marksmanship in Long Island, New York, with the financial banking of the state. By this time, General Ambrose Burnside had become the organization's first president, and NRA was on its path to become one of the most influential organizations in the United States. As the times progressed, so did the interests and objectives of the NRA.
The first notable shift was the promotion of shooting sports in the country's youth. Youth programs were developed, and are still evident today. The youth program currently has affiliations with groups as the Boy Scouts of America, the American Legion, and the 4-H. With World War II on the horizon, the NRA also was involved in providing training for soldiers, as well as lending its facilities for shooting and instruction purposes. The NRA also furnished thousands of weapons to Britain for the purpose of protection from a potential German invasion. By 1949, the NRA set its sights on attracting the hunting community, and developed the first hunter education program.
Today, the NRA hunting programs remains as one the most popular that it has to offer. As the NRA moved forward in the outreach of gaining more members and affiliates, so did its causes. The protection of firearm rights has been a philosophy that was always present since the organizations inception, and as its numbers grew, so did its political base and power. As it stands today, the National Rifle Association is the foremost organization in promoting the right to bear arms and has also become one the most politically-influential organizations in the country.
The NRA offers membership to anyone interested in joining the organization. Though there are no real or formal pre-requisites stated by the NRA, it is safe to assume that those interested in joining will have a vested love for firearms and fully support the NRA's core agenda of protecting and exercising their Second Amendment rights.
The easiest and most convenient method of joining is to access the NRA's website. Any individual interested in the organization can find the necessary information regarding membership to the NRA online. It lists the various member benefits, as well as the ranging types of memberships. Memberships vary in length of time as well as the class or level of membership.
Though there are varying costs of memberships according to time and level, all NRA members receive the distinguished benefit of the "24/7 defense of…Second Amendment freedoms." It is safe to say that any person seeking to protect their rights to bears is strongly encouraged to join the National Rifle Association.
Importance and Effect
There is no argument regarding the importance that the National Rifle Association has when it comes to the long-debated issue regarding gun rights and gun control. The NRA vehemently believes and supports the individual's right as a citizen of the United States to bear arms for the purposes of self-defense and its various hunting and sporting practices.
The NRA's importance to the cause of protecting the Second Amendment is undeniable; every single law, regulation, or bill that has been put into motion or legislature has the NRA's involvement in one shape or another. Whether it is to lobby the pertinent political groups or politicians for their cause, or to oppose any group or politician enacting something that will oppose it.
The NRA's political involvement is one to be considered and recognized because they have not only many supporters and members, but also the political wherewithal to enact changes in governmental policy to ensure their agenda not be violated. The NRA essentially has the most visible and palpable effect on any issue that regards the debate of gun rights versus gun control.
The National Rifle Association's political stance is simple: the protection and the full support of the Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights.
The NRA's political stance in one that is not silent nor secret, and it is also one that strongly opposes any kind of violation or infraction of the right to bear arms, which they consider a basic civil right. The main argument often posed by the NRA is that every human should have the right to actively and determinately defend one self, their families, and property from any one or anything that imposes a will to take that away.
A firearm, is one method or tool that may prove essential in the protection and survival of an individual in such a position. The NRA poses that it is a given common right, as per civil and natural law, that an individual should have the right to own, possess, and carry a firearm, without severe or strict regulation by any governmental faction as a protection of self and against tyranny.
The NRA leadership consists of a board of directors, which is usually made up of 75 members on average. The overall purpose for the board is to coordinate the various programs offered by the organization and employ its methods and ideals on a political sense.
The NRA lobbies to the many political organizations, groups, and affiliations to turn on to their cause of protecting the Second Amendment. The leadership of the NRA is headed by the president of the organization. The position of president is one that has not only the importance of spearheading to collaborative efforts of the NRA, but also become the public figure of the NRA. The position has been filled by many members, and it will continue to change as time progresses.
Charlton Heston, a famous actor, was named President of the NRA in 1993, and he became one of the most publicly recognized members the organization has ever had. The popularity of Heston with the public and media helped the NRA become more widely recognized as a political faction, while at the same time, turning new people on to is cause and philosophy.
As with any politically affiliated organization or faction, the world of controversy is one that will become common place for its members and the organization as a whole. The NRA is not exempt from this notion.
The National Rifle Association has as its credo the protection of the right to bear arms, a subject that in recent memory has been under much scrutiny and criticism by those that strongly support firearm control and regulation. The very fact that the National Rifle Association is pro-gun and supports to the fullest the Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights is in itself controversial.
Furthermore, controversy has also been brought upon the NRA by various factors that include the very methods or ideals employed during their political lobbying and campaigning, as well as its own members making public statements that are not only controversial, but at times ethically and morally questionable.
Though the various controversial issues that arise from individuals within the organization should not condemned it as a whole, it certainly has placed numerous labels upon the NRA that will be hard to get rid of in the future.
The National Rifle Association is an organization that will undoubtedly meet with opposition from many, in particular, those factions and organizations aligned with gun control and anti-firearm ideals.
The dispute of the both sides of firearm politics is one that has been engaged in various disputes ranging from simple debate to heated arbitration during legislation processes. Though the NRA is the most recognizable, and quite possibly, the most outspoken organization to defend the Second Amendment rights instituted by the Bill of Rights, those opposing gun rights and pro-gun ideals do not have a singular identity fronting their cause.
The list of supporters and groups involved in anti-gun or firearm regulation is extensive. The list encompasses formal organizations and groups to individual supporters of high popularity such as actors, musicians, writers, and other similar types of celebrities, including our current leader, President Barack Obama. The opposition to the NRA has many legitimate and considerable arguments that pose a threat to the NRA's attempts to move forward with its campaign.
Some of the arguments are rooted in logic and statistics, while others are more general and philosophical or conditional in their nature. Whichever the case may be, in order to understand the NRA's mission and the impact gun and firearm policies in the United States, one must understand the position of the NRA's opposition in order to grasp a more complete scope as to what the NRA is faced with, and what must be considered in order to move forward with their cause.
See Also: Importance and Effect, Gun Rights-Barack Obama on Gun Rights, Gun Control-Legislative Priorities and Examples of Gun Control Efforts in American Cities, Reform Movements and Ideas-Brady Bill and Brady Campaign
The NRA store offers any member or supporter of the organization to purchase a range of products that bears the organization's name and/or logo. The amount of products available for purchase is quite amazing and ranges from clothing products to knives.
A brief list of the NRA merchandise is as follows: Clothing, Heston Collectibles, Hats, Kid's Stuff, Gun Cases, Car Accessories, Home/Office, Shooting Accessories, and Jewelry and Watches. This is simply just a preview of what can be found in the NRA store, each product emblazoned with the NRA initials, proudly displaying the organization's name.
Special prices, discounts, and merchandise are available to NRA members, but any person wishing to display their support of the organization may purchase from the NRA store online. Furthermore, those members that have achieved a Life Member status get specific discount rates and prices formulated for them, as well as specific products made displaying the Life Member status on certain NRA products.
Friends of NRA
The Friends of NRA is a foundation created by the National Rifle Association designed to raise money for its various programs. Friends of NRA gives all of the funding proceeds to programs that promote firearm safety and instruction, shooting sports, hunting and firearm education.
The NRA Foundation receives all the proceeds, and given the the applicants meet some very basic eligibility requirements, they may be lucky enough to receive money to institute or improve a program at the federal, state, or local levels.
The Friends of NRA generally raises the money by conducting events with the help of NRA members and volunteers. These events are centered in providing for a fun and enjoyable family experience. In doing so, they create an atmosphere that promote the sense of community and further garner support for the NRA cause.
The events usually include a dinner, followed by the auctioning of firearm-related merchandise and regalia. All of the proceeds will be used to further improve the National Rifle Association's programs, while simultaneously garnering more support organizations support for the right to bear arms.
The National Rifle Association is one the largest organizations in the United States. Not only does it provide for programs for firearm enthusiasts and hold fund raising events to support their programs and their cause, but they also holds itself responsible to make their cause known and provide the necessary literature and information on anything and everything regarding firearms.
Therefore, there is a line of magazines and books that have the stamp of approval of the NRA. These publications are designed to reach out to a wider audience that may not be affiliated with the NRA, while simultaneously entertaining the firearm enthusiasts interests.
Current NRA magazine publications in print today are: The American Rifleman, American Hunter, Shooting Illustrated, America's 1st Freedom, Shooting Sports USA, and Insights. Each magazine title is focused on a specific aspect of firearms and guns, and is geared to attract that specific audience. With number magazine titles all addressing virtually all firearm genres, the NRA can provide readers with all there is to know in their area of interest.
The NRA also has books in publication, ranging from literature on laws and regulations to Charlton Heston's biography. NRA publications are proven to become an essential medium for the National Rifle Association to cater to its members while also capturing the attention of all non-member firearm users, and possibly influencing them to their cause.