The National Rifle Association’s policies regarding gun rights and the Second Amendment are ones that will always be met with opposition and controversy. The main controversy will, without question, always have the issue of gun control at its source.
Gun control being the main adversary to the NRA’s policy of pro-gun rights will always produce the most notorious and most numerous sources for controversy relating to the NRA. However, controversy does not only stem from the NRA’s various opposition groups or ideals; the NRA itself has generated plenty of its own controversy.
The nature of controversy involving the NRA has stemmed from sources such as people in the notable members Charlton Heston was the president of the National Rifle Association from 1998 to 2003. Famous prior to his role in the NRA, he was a much revered actor of his time, and known for his support of the Civil Rights Movement. Throughout his years as political activist and president of the NRA, he was subject to issues of controversy regarding certain remarks or speeches given by him.
Aside from controversial topics involving gun rights, he has been criticized for remarks that have offended various groups, such as gays, blacks, jews, and other minorities. Heston once stated, “Why is ‘Hispanic Pride’ or ‘Black Pride’ a good thing, while ‘White Pride’ conjures shaven heads and white hoods?… I’ll tell you why, Cultural warfare!…Political correctness is tyranny with manners.” Heston was addressing how political correctness is a concept that limits free speech and free thought.
However, his statement can also be viewed by some as a prejudiced outcry against particular minority groups. Other instances are distinctly tied to his involvement with the NRA. In Michael Moore’s film Bowling for Columbine, Heston was criticized by Moore because of an NRA meeting that was held shortly after the tragedy that occurred at Columbine High School and his support for the unrestricted ownership of firearms.
Nugent is also aligned with anti-drug and anti-alcohol campaigns, and his non-profit program, Ted Nugent’s Kamp for Kids, teaches children nature preservation and archery. Regardless of his various philanthropic interests, his brash and outspoken personality have always put him conflict with certain activists groups. A self-proclaimed patriot, Nugent has been quoted saying some questionable and controversial remarks regarding race, sex, and the various activists groups he opposes.
Nugent once said regarding South African people, “Apartheid isn’t that cut and dry. All men are not created equal. The preponderance of South Africa is a different breed of man…These are different people.” Though he claims that he does not have any racist or sexist inclinations, it is hard pressed for any person not to view his statement as having been rooted in prejudice.
The involvement of celebrities or well-known public figures in the National Rifle Association has often type-casted the organization as a conservative, prejudiced, gun-long group of people organized to further spread their philosophic prejudice. However, such a generalization can not be made on the basis of individual members of the organization.
It is often forgotten that the NRA essentially is a civil rights group, seeking the protection of specific right in the Second Amendment. Other activists groups who support civil rights for their own causes will often overlook that they have in common one of the most fundamental reasons in which activists groups in themselves are created: the preservation of Civil Rights.