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Gun Control. What the NRA don't want you to know.

Updated on April 3, 2014

The National Rifle Association (NRA) is a body that supports and promotes the notion that ordinary Americans be allowed to own, possess, and use firearms.

The NRA is said to be the single most powerful non-profit organization in the United States.

The NRA "bases its political activity on the principle that gun ownership is a civil liberty protected by the Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights, and claims to be the oldest continuously operating civil liberties organization in the United States. According to its website, the NRA has "more than four million members."

Historically, the NRA has governed and advanced the shooting sports in the United States. In recent years, however, its role in the shooting sports has become somewhat less direct. In 1992 the NRA ceased to be the National Governing Body for Olympic shooting (USA Shooting is now the NGB), and in 2000 the NRA chose not to be a member of the National Three-Position Air Rifle Council. The NRA is not directly involved in the practical pistol competitions conducted by the International Practical Shooting Confederation and International Defensive Pistol Association, or in cowboy action shooting; both of these types of events have grown dramatically in recent years.

Many consider the NRA to be one of the most influential political lobby groups in the U.S. because of its ability to consistently deliver large numbers of votes in elections. As well as its record of campaign contributions and activities in lobbying for gun and hunting rights. Members of Congress have ranked the NRA as the most powerful lobbying organization in the country several years in a row.

However, political lobbying is an activity permitted under its 501(c)(4) tax status. Chris W. Cox has been the NRA's chief lobbyist and principal political strategist since 2002.[4.]

The NRA typically opposes measures which it asserts would conflict with the Second Amendment and/or the right to privacy enjoyed by law-abiding gun owners. It asserts that any attempt to regulate arms conflicts with the second clause of the amendment; the "right to keep and bear arms." The NRA has supported gun rights on other grounds as well-they opposed the Brady Bill in the courts on Tenth Amendment grounds, not Second Amendment.

Assault weapon ban of 1994

In 2004 the NRA successfully opposed renewal of the Federal Assault weapons ban of 1994.

As of September 2003, the NRA's focus at the federal level is on a bill to protect manufacturers from certain types of lawsuits. The "Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act" (S.659/S.1806

On September 12, 2005 National Rifle Association executive vice-president Wayne LaPierre spoke out against these confiscations. "What we've seen in Louisiana - the breakdown of law and order in the aftermath of disaster - is exactly the kind of situation where the Second Amendment was intended to allow citizens to protect themselves," LaPierre said. The NRA filed suit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District in Louisiana.

On September 23, two weeks after seizures began, NRA and Second Amendment Foundation filed for a temporary restraining order. On September 24, 2005 U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana issued a temporary restraining order barring any further gun confiscations and ordering the return of lawfully owned firearms to their owners. On March 1, 2006, the NRA filed a motion for contempt against the city of New Orleans, its mayor, and the chief of police for failure to comply with the restraining order. On March 15, 2006, lawyers from both sides reached an agreement in the case of NRA v. Mayor Ray Nagin, which is pending before a federal court

In June 2006 Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco signed the NRA-backed Act 275, forbidding the confiscation of firearms from lawful citizens during declared emergencies. Similar legislation had already been adopted in nine other states..)

San Francisco's Proposition H

In November 2005, 58% of voters in San Francisco, California, approved "Proposition H", which would ban the sale, manufacture and distribution of firearms and ammunition (as well as the possession of handguns) within city limits, effective January 1, 2006 (The last gun dealer in the city had closed several years earlier because of a special tax.) San Francisco thereby became the third major city in the United States with a handgun ban, after Chicago and Washington, D.C.

The day after the election, the National Rifle Association and other gun advocates filed a lawsuit challenging the ban, saying it oversteps local government authority and intrudes into an area regulated by the state. A previous handgun ban, adopted in 1984, was successfully challenged on similar grounds.) On June 12, 2006 Superior Court Judge agreed with the NRA position, saying that California law "implicitly prohibits a city or county from banning gun possession by law-abiding adults".

The City appealed Judge Warren's ruling, but lost in a unanimous opinion from the three judge panel in the Court of Appeal issued on January 9, 2008. In November 2005, 58% of voters in San Francisco, California, approved "Proposition H", which would ban the sale, manufacture and distribution of firearms and ammunition (as well as the possession of handguns) within city limits, effective January 1, 2006. (The last gun dealer in the city had closed several years earlier because of a special tax.) San Francisco thereby became the third major city in the United States with a handgun ban, after Chicago and Washington, D.C.

(It's similar to the conspiracy theory that holds Republicans never really want Roe v. Wadeoverturned, because of the money and political support that would rush to pro-choice groups.)

And in fact, it wasn't the NRA that filed the lawsuit that brought Washington, D.C.'s gun ban down. it was a group of libertarians, acting on their own with help from the CATO Institute.

After the Hellerdecision, in which the court found, for the first time, a constitutional right to gun ownership for self-defense, can the NRA still suggest to the public at large that the government is able to pull firearms from households? The court's ruling suggests that no regulation can deny a resident the right to keep a functional handgun at the ready.

It's interesting that the legislative arm of the NRA, which conducts its public message-making, has already adopted an approach in reaction to the ruling: eternal vigilance.

James Olipant of the 'Swamp' argues that the recent Supreme Court ruling could be problematic for the NRA. Oliphant stated that quickly the NRA went into a kind of protective public relations approach following the decision A right gained, the NRA says, can easily become a right lost.

In an email the association sent out Thursday, it warned about about the decision inflaming the media's "anti-gun hysteria."

The email invoked many of the conservative bogeyman in one ready-to-go package: Rev. Jesse Jackson, Adrian Fenty, the mayor of D.C,. Chicago mayor Richard Daley, the New York Times and, yes, the Chicago Tribune's editorial page, which, after the decision, (with some collective tongue in collective cheek) suggested the Second Amendment should be repealed.

Here is an excerpt from the NRA missive:

The sad truth is that [the Heller decision] will motivate the Second Amendment's enemies to redouble their efforts to destroy the right to arms.Given the timing--just over four months before the November elections--we all have more than ample reason to redouble our efforts to ensure that November's winners will be the kinds of elected officials who will help us build upon the victory achieved in the Supreme Court.

Of course, the landscape after Heller is not a defined one. More questions remain than answers, the primary one being whether the decision applies to gun bans in localities such as Chicago and San Francisco. Also, whether the government can ban short-barreled shotguns, automatic weapons, concealed weapons or guns outside the home. Some analysts (including pro-gun ones) believe the Heller decision may have damaged the gun-rights movement by suggesting that there is a great amount of room for the government to regulate guns, more than many Second Amendment absolutists would like.

The debate has shifted, and an avalanche of litigation lies ahead, which should keep the money flowing to the NRA and its opposition, at least in the short-term. The game has changed, but it hasn't gone away. Not by a long shot.

Whilst Americans continue to die or be seriously injured and maimed as a result of gun fire the debate will continue to rage as to who should pick up the tab both financially and socially.

The thirty thousand Americans who die each year deserve a voice too. Something the NRA proponents conveniently turn a deaf ear to.


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