America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 20

OPENING SALVO
NRA-ILA Was Founded for You
By David Kopel
N
RA's Institute for
Legislative Action
(ILA) was created in
1975, then saved and
strengthened by NRA members
in the 1977 Annual Meeting,
in the " Revolt at Cincinnati. "
According to the gun-prohibition
lobby, the NRA had been
an apolitical organization that
suddenly grew " radical " in the
1970s. Actually, the developments
in the 1970s fortifi ed NRA's
longstanding tradition of active
defense of the right to keep and
bear arms.
Founded in 1871, the NRA promoted
rifl e marksmanship training
and competition. At the time,
there were hardly any gun-control
laws, and so the membership saw
little need for the association to be
involved in political aff airs. In the
early 20th century, as anti-gun activists
grew more aggressive, the NRA
came to the defense of all law-abiding
fi rearms owners.
NRA's fi rst involvement in federal
government aff airs came in 1903.
Th en, Congress and President Th eodore
Roosevelt (an NRA member),
acted on what the NRA had been
saying since 1871: Strong national
defense depends on citizen soldiers
who become profi cient rifl emen
long before they volunteer for the
armed forces. Congress established
the National Board for the Promotion
of Rifl e Practice (NBPRP) to
oversee national matches in rifl ery.
Th e 21-member national board
included, by statute, all eight directors
of the NRA.
Th e NRA worked together with
NBPRP to fi ght proposed laws that
might harm or deter the armed citizenry.
Th e NRA emerged as a major
political force in the fi rst decades
of the 20th century in this way. Th e
NRA member magazines were (and
still are) the association's tool for
informing members about pending
20 SEPTEMBER 2021 I AMERICA'S 1ST
legislation that might aff ect
them for better or worse, so
that members could contact
their elected offi cials. In 1934,
the NRA created its Legislative
Aff airs Division in response
to anti-gun legislation being
pushed by U.S. Attorney
General Homer Cummings
(D-Ill.). Cummings wanted a
$200 tax and federal registration
on machine guns, which
he defi ned to include any semi-automatic
holding more than 12 rounds.
His proposed National Firearms Act
(NFA) also included national registration
and a $5 tax for all handguns,
not just semi-automatics.
In the House Ways and Means
Committee, NRA President Karl
Frederick testifi ed that the restrictions
on handguns and semi-automatics
were unacceptable. So were
proposed licensing fees on handgun
dealers and manufacturers. Frederick
patiently explained to the representatives
the diff erence between an automatic
and a semi-automatic, using
a Colt 1911 semi-automatic pistol as
an example.
Also testifying against the bill was
NRA's executive vice-president, Gen.
Milton A. Reckord. In his testimony,
he also represented the Adjutants
General Association (the heads of all
FREEDOM
Harlan B. Carter
(left) was the fi rst
director of the NRA's
Institute for Legislative
Action (ILA)
before being promoted
to executive
vice president.
Below are Jim Baker
and Wayne LaPierre
when they both were
part of ILA's team.
the state National Guards), of which
he had formerly been president.
Assistant Attorney General Joseph
B. Keenan threatened that if the
NRA continued to fi ght the handgun
restrictions, the Franklin Roosevelt
administration would nationalize the
fi rearms industry and would then
refuse to sell any fi rearms to citizens.
Keenan also off ered a special exemption:
the bill would not apply to NRA
members. Neither stick nor carrot
made the NRA budge.
Th e handgun and semi-automatic
provisions were removed from the
NFA, and the bill then sailed through
Congress. Keenan complained that
the NRA " is more powerful than any
other group I know of. "
Th e next major federal gun law
was the Federal Firearms Act of
1938, which required licenses and
record-keeping for businesses
Photos: NRA Archives

America's First Freedom - September 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of America's First Freedom - September 2021

Contents
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - Cover1
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - Cover2
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 1
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - Contents
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 3
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 4
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 5
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 6
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 7
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 8
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 9
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 10
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 11
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 12
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 13
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 14
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 15
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 16
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 17
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 18
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 19
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 20
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 21
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 22
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 23
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 24
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 25
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 26
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 27
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 28
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 29
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 30
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 31
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 32
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 33
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 34
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 35
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 36
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 37
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 38
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 39
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 40
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 41
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 42
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 43
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 44
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 45
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 46
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 47
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 48
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 49
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 50
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 51
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America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 53
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America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 55
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 56
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 57
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America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 63
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 64
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - Cover3
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - Cover4
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