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What does the nra advocate

It is one of the most powerful players in one of the most hotly-debated issues in the US – gun control – but what exactly is the NRA? Here’s a quick guide.

What is the NRA?

NRA stands for National Rifle Association. The group was founded in 1871 by two US Civil War veterans as a recreational group designed to “promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis”.

The NRA’s path into political lobbying began in 1934 when it started mailing members with information about upcoming firearms bills. The association supported two major gun control acts, the National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA) and Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA), but became more politically active following the passage of the GCA in the 1970s.

In 1975, it began attempting to influence policy directly via a newly formed lobbying arm, the Institute for Legislative Action. In 1977 it formed its own Political Action Committee (PAC), to channel funds to legislators.

The NRA is now among the most powerful special interest lobby groups in the US, with a substantial budget to influence members of Congress on gun policy. It is run by executive vice-president Wayne LaPierre.

In August 2020, prosecutors in New York and Washington DC announced that they would seek to dissolve the organisation over allegations that senior leadership misused a charity fund, redirecting the money for lavish personal spending.

How big is its budget?

The NRA spends about $250m per year, far more than all the country’s gun control advocacy groups put together. But the NRA has a much larger membership than any of those groups and disburses funds for things such as gun ranges and educational programmes.

In terms of lobbying, the NRA officially spends about $3m per year to influence gun policy – the recorded amount spent on lobbying in 2014 was $3.3m. That is only the recorded contributions to lawmakers however, and considerable sums are spent elsewhere via PACs and independent expenditures – funds which are difficult to track.

Analysts point out that the NRA also wields considerable indirect influence via its highly politically engaged membership, many of whom will vote one way or another based on this single issue. The NRA publicly grades members of Congress from A to F on their perceived friendliness to gun rights. Those ratings can have a serious effect on poll numbers and even cost pro-gun control candidates a seat.

But since the election of Donald Trump in 2016, NRA spending on campaigns in the states has plummeted. The drop came amid the rise of pro-control groups, who have received millions of dollars from backers who oppose most NRA policies. It was estimated that gun control groups may have outspent the NRA for the first time ever in 2018.

How big is the NRA?

Estimates of the NRA’s membership have varied widely for decades. The association claimed that membership surged to close to five million in response to the mass shooting at Sandy Hook school in 2012, but some analysts put the figure at closer to three million. The organisation has been accused of inflating the figure.

The NRA has boasted some high-profile members over the years, including late former President George HW Bush. He resigned from the group in 1995 after Mr La Pierre referred to federal agents in the wake of a bombing attack on a government building in Oklahoma City as “jack-booted thugs”.

Current members include former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, and actors Tom Selleck and Whoopi Goldberg. The late actor Charlton Heston was president of the NRA between 1998 and 2003. Heston famously held a rifle over his head at an NRA convention following the Columbine High School massacre in 1999 and told gun control advocates they would have to take it “from my cold, dead hands”.

Why is it controversial?

The NRA has lobbied heavily against all forms of gun control and argued aggressively that more guns make the country safer. It relies on, and staunchly defends, a disputed interpretation of the Second Amendment to the US Constitution, which it argues gives US citizens the rights to bear arms without any government oversight.

The association faced criticism from both sides of the political spectrum in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, when Mr La Pierre said that the lack of an armed guard at the school was to blame for the tragedy.

It staunchly opposes most local, state and federal legislation that would restrict gun ownership. For example, the NRA has lobbied for guns confiscated by the police to be resold, arguing that destroying the weapons is, in effect, a waste of perfectly good guns.

Likewise, it strongly supports legislation that expand gun rights such as “open-carry” laws, which allow gun owners to carry their weapons, unconcealed, in most public places.

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The National Rifle Association of America is a major gun rights organization in the United States.

The National Rifle Association was founded in New York state in 1871 as a governing body for the sport of shooting with rifles and pistols.

By the early 21st century the National Rifle Association had claimed a membership of somewhere near five million members.

The National Rifle Association has engaged in highly effective political lobbying and campaigning against virtually any legislative proposal for the control of firearms in the United States.

National Rifle Association of America (NRA), leading gun rights organization in the United States. The National Rifle Association of America (NRA) was founded in New York state in 1871 as a governing body for the sport of shooting with rifles and pistols. By the early 21st century it claimed a membership of nearly five million target shooters, hunters, gun collectors, gunsmiths, police, and other gun enthusiasts.

Among the NRA’s more important activities beginning in the second half of the 20th century was its highly effective political lobbying and campaigning against virtually any legislative proposal for the control of firearms. It consistently characterized such measures as infringements of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and a grave threat to individual liberty, maintaining that stance even in the wake of frequent mass shootings throughout the country (e.g., the Newtown shootings of 2012 and the Orlando shooting of 2016). Although the NRA typically declined to issue public statements following mass murders committed with guns, it has asserted that gun-control measures would not have prevented the violence, that mass shootings could have been avoided or mitigated if more bystanders or victims had carried guns with which to intervene or defend themselves, and that such tragedies are simply the price that must be paid for the freedom guaranteed by the Second Amendment.

Following the publication in 1993 of a study funded by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showing that gun ownership increased the risk of homicide in the home, the NRA successfully lobbied Congress to reallocate the CDC’s budget for research on gun violence and to adopt a law, known as the Dickey amendment, that prohibited the CDC from using research funds to “advocate or promote gun control.” The amendment effectively prevented the CDC from funding research on gun violence in subsequent years.

In 2018 Oliver North, a former U.S. Marine Corps officer who was a central figure in the Iran-Contra Affair of the 1980s, was named president of the NRA. He soon became involved in a power struggle with NRA chief executive officer Wayne LaPierre as regulators investigated the organization’s tax-exempt status amid allegations of financial improprieties. In 2019 North announced that he was resigning as president, noting that the NRA was in the midst of a “clear crisis.”

In 2020 the New York state attorney general filed a lawsuit seeking to dissolve the NRA on the grounds that LaPierre and other top officials had improperly used NRA assets to enrich themselves and their associates and to fund extravagant personal expenses in violation of state and federal laws governing nonprofit or charitable organizations. In 2021 the NRA declared bankruptcy and announced that it would reincorporate in Texas. However, later that year a federal judge dismissed the filing, stating that “the N.R.A. is using this bankruptcy case to address a regulatory enforcement problem, not a financial one.” The decision meant that the New York lawsuit would continue.

The American NRA was modeled after the National Rifle Association in Great Britain, which had been formed in 1859. The British NRA has its headquarters near Woking, Surrey, England, and the American NRA is headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Adam Augustyn.

Following the controversy of #ThisIsOurLane, ACP’s Senior Vice President for Governmental Affairs and Public Policy takes on the National Rifle Association’s leadership, which he says advocates for extreme policies that endanger lives.

I usually like to stick to the issues when writing about public policy, without characterizing the motives and actions of other organizations, whether they agree with the College or not. When it comes to the National Rifle Association, though, I’ll make an exception, because the NRA’s extremist, pro-gun, anti-health agenda endangers us all. One simply can’t understand gun policy in the United States without acknowledging and understanding the NRA’s role in shaping it, pushing policies that contribute to thousands of deaths and injuries each year.

It wasn’t always so. “For much of the 20th century, the NRA had lobbied and co-authored legislation that was similar to the modern legislative measures the association now characterizes as unconstitutional,” wrote historian Arica L. Coleman in Time magazine in July 2016. “But by the 1970s the NRA came to view attempts to enact gun-control laws as threats to the Second Amendment … Today’s NRA could be summed up with words uttered by the Black Panther Party 40 years earlier: “the gun is the only thing that will free us—gain us our liberation.” The NRA today pushes radical policies to block and roll back just about any effort to restrict guns. It pushes a narrative of exaggerated threats that can only be repelled by armed citizens, never mind the evidence that more guns are associated with more deaths and injuries from guns.

In case you think my characterizing the NRA’s agenda as “radical” and “extremist” is unfair or too harsh, consider a few points.

The NRA opposes reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which funds proven programs to protect women from harm at the hands of others, because it makes it harder for domestic violence offenders to obtain guns. It would do this by closing loopholes in the current federal instant background check system.

Currently, persons with misdemeanor convictions for domestic violence against a member of their household are prohibited from buying guns. However, those with convictions for domestic violence against a person outside their household (such as persons they’ve dated) are exempted. Also, under current law, persons with permanent restraining orders are prohibited from buying guns, but those with temporary restraining orders are not. VAWA would close both of these loopholes, as recommended by ACP in its recently updated policy paper on reducing injuries and deaths from firearms. (This is the same ACP policy paper that launched “This Is Our Lane,” the physician movement against gun violence, when the NRA attacked ACP, and Annals of Internal Medicine, which published the paper, telling doctors to “stay in their lane.”) Fortunately, the House of Representatives voted on April 4 to reauthorize VAWA, on a vote of 263-158. However, the NRA will do everything possible to block it in the Republican-controlled Senate.

The NRA opposes expanding the federal background check system to include sales of guns at gun shows or through the internet, resulting in sales of guns to persons who otherwise would be prohibited because they have felony convictions, have been involuntarily hospitalized for a mental health condition that makes them a danger to themselves or others, or are otherwise prohibited under current law. Universal background checks are supported by nine out of 10 Americans, including an overwhelming majority of gun owners, yet the NRA opposes them.

The NRA advocates for “concealed-carry reciprocity,” which would require states to allow persons from any other state to carry a concealed firearm, preempting a state’s right to determine its own conditions for granting concealed-carry permits. It also advocates for “constitutional carry” laws, which would repeal any and all state restrictions on carrying concealed weapons. This would effectively result in virtually no restrictions on concealed carry, anywhere.

The NRA opposes banning future sales of military-grade assault rifles and high-capacity magazines, the weapons of choice for mass shooters. For the NRA, it appears there is no type of firearm or ammunition that can be banned, no matter the harm it can inflict, even when there is no reasonable self-defense or recreational need for civilians to own such weapons.

The NRA opposes extreme risk protection, otherwise known as red-flag laws. Such laws would allow family members or the police to seek an order from a judge, usually within three days, to remove guns temporarily from people determined to be at imminent risk of using their firearms to harm themselves or others, with due process to have their firearms returned to them if they are no longer a risk.

The NRA opposes laws to require guns and ammunition to be stored safely and securely, and separately from each other, to reduce the risk of injuries and deaths when children, or other unauthorized persons, get hold of unsecured and loaded guns.

Extreme and radical? How else to characterize an effort to make it easier for domestic violence offenders to buy and possess guns, to allow felons and other restricted persons to buy guns at gun shows or on the internet, to eliminate all concealed-carry restrictions (and to force all states to accept their elimination), to make it impossible to remove guns from persons at imminent risk of harming themselves or others, to oppose requirements for safe storage of firearms and ammunition, and to allow sales of military-style assault weapons? How else?

To be clear, when I call out the NRA for promoting a radical and extreme advocacy agenda, this does not mean I believe that most of its members, or most gun owners, are radical or extreme. Polls show that most gun owners support the policies cited above that the NRA opposes. Yet as long as the NRA’s leadership advocates for extreme policies that endanger the lives of the rest of us, ACP will continue to speak up in support of common-sense policies to reduce injuries and deaths from firearms, because protecting patients from harm is very much in physicians’ lane.

Robert B. Doherty is ACP’s Senior Vice President for Governmental Affairs and Public Policy.

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Despite internationally high rates of gun violence and deaths, the United States does little to regulate ownership and use of firearms. This situation is puzzling given strong — and long-standing — public support for gun control policies. Scholars and other observers point to decades of effective efforts by the National Rifle Association to block or weaken proposed gun regulations as a major reason for this mismatch between public preferences and legal outcomes.

How does the National Rifle Association — called “NRA” for short — achieve its objectives? Some view the NRA’s political sway as a product of the money it contributes to policymakers. Compelling research, however, indicates that political engagement by NRA supporters is a key ingredient —perhaps the key ingredient — in the NRA’s success. Citizens who support the NRA are highly politically active relative to other Americans, including gun control supporters. The engagement gap between the politically active minority of Americans who oppose gun controls and the less active majority who would like to see such limits is an important reason for the weakness of gun regulations in the United States.

My research helps explain why NRA supporters are so politically involved and how the NRA mobilizes them into action. Over the course of many decades, I find, the NRA has constructed a collective identity around gun ownership, allowing people to see guns as more than just tools for recreation or self-defense. For participants in this self-conscious group, guns express shared values, traditions, and beliefs. By arguing that gun control proposals are a threat to values cherished by many gun owners, the NRA is able to turn its supporters against even minor proposed regulations that most Americans see as reasonable.

Gun control proponents, as well as leaders of movements on other issues, can learn from the NRA’s approach. Specifically, they can attempt to build or strengthen genuine social connections among their grassroots supporters and craft messages that motivate people to take action on behalf of shared values and identities.

Collective Identity and the NRA

To learn how the NRA became rooted in a shared identity, I collected nearly eight decades of the NRA’s American Rifleman magazine, spanning from 1930 to 2008. I examined the editorials written by the association’s top officials, to assess the extent to which they portray gun owners as a distinct, cohesive social group, as well as the extent to which they call their supporters into political action by portraying the group as under threat from gun control advocates. My data are revealing on several scores:

  • The vast majority of NRA appeals describe gun owners as a collective group with a number of distinct characteristics and values – depicting them as law-abiding, average citizens who are self-sufficient, patriotic, brave, and freedom-loving. Gun owners are consistently contrasted in NRA communications with “out-groups,” including media reporters and politicians. Those opponents are depicted as big city elitists who use propaganda to support extremist policies that would empower bureaucrats and harm liberty.
  • The NRA emphasizes gun control proposals as an affront to gun owners and their beliefs, rather than invoking evidence-based arguments about their infeasibility.
  • When NRA supporters are asked to take political action, NRA leaders frequently depict them as under dire, existential threat from proposed regulations, using fear to motivate pushback.
  • Identity-based themes and appeals are regularly reinforced in popular NRA programs that draw more than a million participants per year. Branded as more than ways to improve skills and knowledge, NRA programs are presented as events for liberty-loving Americans.

Beyond analyzing NRA communications, I also collected and reviewed all letters to the editor in four major newspapers that discussed gun control from 1930 to 2008. These letters show that pro-gun letter writers echo the arguments espoused by the NRA, mentioning the same positive characteristics about NRA supporters and the same negative characteristics to describe their opponents. Like the NRA, these letters also depict proposed regulations as attacks on gun owners as a group. In contrast, letters written in support of gun control show much less evidence of a shared identity and are more likely discuss the potential impacts of gun control laws in abstract rather than personal terms.

Do NRA appeals mobilize members? The answer is yes, I find. When the NRA asks gun rights supporters to take action, they do so in large numbers. Documents in the archives of presidents and members of Congress show that NRA calls to action are followed by large spikes in the number of letters and phone calls received in opposition to gun control. Consistently, letters and calls from opponents outpace those from supporters of gun control. This imbalance in contacting officials was present as early as the 1930s and has persisted into the current decade. Moreover, there is evidence that the imbalance has directly informed how policymakers act on possible legislation, dissuading them from taking action against firearms.

What Others Can Learn from the NRA

Leaders of gun control efforts and other groups can learn from the NRA’s approach. They can, in the first place, seek to arouse and sustain grassroots support by encouraging members to meet in person and to develop relationships, fostering a sense of shared identity. The NRA may have the advantage of being able to build on longstanding gun and hunting clubs, but gun control advocates can tap into existing social networks and discuss policies in relation to values and identities many Americans already hold. Recent efforts by groups such as Moms Demand Action and the Parkland, Florida students have done just this – reframing America’s gun control debate as a matter of parental responsibility and the protection of children and young people.