A professor emeritus of political science at the State University of New York at Cortland, who is also a member of the National Rifle Association and the Giffords Association, reviews the way the organization has changed over the years. He writes:
“The NRA’s more than 150-year history spans three distinct eras. At first, the group was mainly concerned with marksmanship. It later played a relatively constructive role regarding safety-minded gun ownership restrictions before turning into a rigid politicized force. The NRA was formed in 1871 by two Civil War veterans from Northern states who had witnessed the typical soldier’s inability to handle guns….The NRA played a role in fledgling political efforts to formulate state and national gun policy in the 1920s and 1930s after Prohibition-era liquor trafficking stoked gang warfare. It backed measures like requiring a permit to carry a gun and even a gun purchase waiting period.”
Read Professor Robert Spitzer’s history of the NRA and its evolution into the organization it is today.