Love it or hate it, the NRA has been around for a very long time. It was founded in 1871 in New York and is the longest continuously running civil rights organization in the USA. The NRA is a direct result of the civil war. Firearms changed from a smooth bore to rifled barrels so tactics also had to change. With a smooth bore, aiming was not very effective, only the amount of lead you could put down range with volley shots. With rifled barrels, those who could aim won the battle. The results were that very few Union soldiers could hit a target. Union Army Civil War General Ambrose Burnside was claimed to have said, “Out of ten soldiers who are perfect in drill and the manual of arms, only one knows the purpose of the sights on his gun or can hit the broad side of a barn.” He wanted to change that. He was elected as the first president of the NRA. Colonel W.C. Church was elected vice president, Captain Wingate was elected secretary and Fred M. Peck was elected recording secretary. The purpose of the NRA was to”promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis.” Captain Wingate went on a tour of foreign military training centers in order to understand the best way to train Marksmen. The NRA opened their first range and training center in Creedmore, Long Island in 1872.
Throughout it’s history, the NRA has continued to grow and support the training of Marksmen and well as introducing firearm safety through school clubs. Eventually, the NRA began to develop training courses for hunters and sports shooters of all types as well as law enforcement officers. Today they have over 125,000 certified instructors who train over a million gun owners a year. They are fulfilling their original mandate. If you are interested in more NRA history you can read it here: NRA history, and here: NRA. And for a little different perspective: NRA. This is the origin and core of the NRA
In the 1920’s and 30’s development of the “machine gun” and its use by organized criminals lead to the need for the classification of firearms and a prohibitive tax to help limit the use and spread of such firearms. The NFA was passed with the support of the NRA. You can read more about it here: NFA and here: ATF-NFA. By the 1970’s there were more perceived encroachments on the 2nd Amendment as well as changes in leadership and their philosophy of the NRA. This lead to the rise of a more political NRA which began to defend the rights of gun owners.
Today, many people see the NRA as a political organization, which with its 5 million members and large support to politicians (over $50 million in 2016), who holds a lot of political power. The intent of the NRA of Firearms Safety Education, Marksmanship Training and Shooting for Recreation seems to be overshadowed in many people’s minds by a political agenda. All political parties can support gun safety training, and most support hunter safety, Law Enforcement training, and many support marksman and sports training. Love it or Hate it, the NRA is here to stay for many years to come, offering gun safety and legal aid for gun owners.