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By Alex Guanga

The National Rifle Association (NRA) is the backbone of the pro-gun movement. The NRA shaped President Reagan’s take on the Second Amendment. When Ronald Reagan was a senator, he passed the Mulford Act. The Mulford Act “banned open carry based on the armed patrols.” [1] Don Mulford, a Republican Conservative, argued in 1989, “openly carrying a gun is an ‘act of violence or near violence…’” [2] Hence, the Republican party favored the gun-regulation in 1989. Moreover, the NRA supported California’s Mulford Act of 1967.

Before the Cincinnati Revolt, the NRA had a different take on gun-regulation. The Cincinnati Revolt occurred after a member of the NRA was shot. Currently, the NRA believes that guns are our constitutional right. This sentiment is different than Karl T. Frederick who was president of the NRA. He testified for the passing of the 1938 Gun Control Act and said, “I have never believed in the general practice of carrying weapons.” Frederick also stated, “Protection for guns lies in an enlightened public sentiment and in intelligent legislative action.” [3], It is striking to learn that both were statements were held by the NRA.

There are other scenarios that showcase a different NRA.

Similar to the 1938 Gun Control Act, Congress, and the White House passed the National Firearms Act of 1934. The ATF writes, “imposed a tax on the making and transfer of firearms defined by the Act, as well as a special (occupational) tax on persons and entities engaged in the business of importing, manufacturing, and dealing in NFA firearms.” [4] The NRA helped Congress pass the National Firearms Act of 1934.

After discovering that Lee Harvey Oswald killed President Kennedy with a rifle bought through a mail-order ad in the NRA’s American Rifleman magazine, the NRA took responsibility. NRA Executive Vice-President Frankin Orth stated, “We do not think that any sane American, who calls himself an American, can object to placing into this bill the instrument which killed the President of the United States.” [5]

The Gun Control Act of 1968 was another instance where the NRA supported gun-regulation. According to Rob Elving from NPR, the 1960’s was an era of high-crimes rate and deadly protest. In 1967, the Black Panther Party members carried rifles to protest a gun-control bill. [6] Hence, Elving states that the NRA felt compelled to use their organization to aid the cause pro-gun control politicians were fighting for. According to the New York Times, the law enacted, “The act updated the law to include minimum age and serial number requirements, and extended the gun ban to include the mentally ill and drug addicts.” [7]

In contrast, the recent history of the NRA appears to be quite different than the “Old” NRA. The NRA has not changed their recent position on their pro-gun agenda. Why would they? They have received tremendous support. In 2017, over 80,000 people attended their annual meeting. Thus, the NRA often remains quiet after mass shootings. The NRA opposes stricter gun regulation which has not changed even after mass shootings like on the campus of Virginia Tech or the movie theater in Colorado. They often demand such shootings “not be politicized.”

Yet, the NRA did fight for stricter gun regulation after the rise of criminals in the 1920s. They pushed for stricter gun regulation after the murders of President John F. Kennedy. Recently, the NRA opposed “bump fire stocks,” which is a firearm accessory that allows semi-automatic weapons to fire at a more rapid pace like automatic ones. [8] Jennifer Baker, the spokeswoman for the Institute for Legislative Action at the NRA, said of this bill, “these bills are intentionally overreaching and would ban commonly owned firearm accessories.”

The comparison of the two NRAs is dramatic. In the past, the NRA understood that gun-regulation could assist in preventing future gun-related tragedies. But now they are synonymous with weaker or the complete absence of gun-regulation.


[1] Russell, Y. (2014). The Mulford Act. [online] Available at: [Accessed 28 Nov. 2017]. [2] Weber, P. (2015). How Ronald Reagan learned to love gun control. [online] Available at: [Accessed 6 Dec. 2017]. [3] Rosenwald, M. (2017). The NRA once believed in gun control and had a leader who pushed for it. [online] Available at: [Accessed 6 Dec. 2017]. [4] “ATF Online — Firearms — National Firearms Act (NFA).” ATF Online — Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, [5]Michaud, J. (2012). The Birth of the Modern Gun Debate. [online] Available at: [Accessed 6 Dec. 2017]. [6] Elvings, R. (2017). The NRA Wasn’t Always Against Gun Restrictions. [online] Available at: [Accessed 6 Dec. 2017]. [7] Coleman, A. (2016). When the NRA Supported Gun Control. [online] Available at: [Accessed 28 Nov. 2017]. [8] Fox, L. (2017). NRA opposes bump fire stocks bills. [online] Available at: [Accessed 6 Dec. 2017].

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