The National Rifle Association was formed because former officers in the Union Army were concerned about the marksmanship of Union soldiers during the Civil War. Though outnumbered and poorly equipped, Confederate riflemen regularly outshot the soldiers from the North. Rebel snipers were especially deadly. The opinion at the time among knowledgeable military men was that the war would have ended earlier had it not been for Southern marksmanship.

The National Rifle Association, which not only participated in the drafting of National Firearms Act of 1934, but in drafting the Federal Firearms Act of 1938 and the Gun Control Act of 1968, has always supported realistic regulation of the rights protected by the Second Amendment.

It supported, and still supports, the original prohibition on the possession of firearms by felons included in the Federal Firearms Act of 1938 and supported the expansions of those prohibitions in 1968 to include persons adjudicated as mentally incompetent or likely to pose a danger to themselves or others; persons that use illegal drugs; persons dishonorably discharged from the military; persons illegally in the U.S. or who have renounced their citizenship and fugitives from justice.

In addition, the NRA still commits more resources to safety and marksmanship training than any other organization, including the virtually nonexistent efforts made by gun control advocacy groups. The NRA includes the tax-exempt and tax-deductible NRA Foundation, the non-political arm of the association, which provides grants for organizations to conduct safety and marksmanship training and other resources. An examination of the IRS Forms 990 filed by the NRA and NRA Foundation will detail the expenditures.

The above Timeline piece is a hatchet job. It seeks to demonize the NRA because it does oppose pet gun control measures that, based on real-world experience, are incapable of delivering on the promises made for them. In short, the NRA opposes useless legislation.

Even Mark Glaze, former director of Everytown for Gun Safety and Mayors Against Illegal Guns, admitted that none of the measures the groups advocated would have prevented a single mass shooting. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal for June 16, 2014, Glaze was commenting on the failure of gun control groups to get their measures enacted. His exact words were: “Is it a messaging problem when a mass shooting happens and nothing that we have to offer would have stopped that mass shooting? Sure, it’s a messaging problem.”

However, Glaze’s message has obviously fallen on deaf ears. How else can one account for Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy introducing legislation calling for expanded background checks just days after a person that passed more than a dozen of them shot more than 600 people in Las Vegas? How does one account for the measures rolled out in the aftermath of Sandy Hook when none of them would have had any effect?

Indeed, how does one justify stripping hundreds of thousands of young adults in Florida of their right to purchase a rifle or shotgun when, in the entire time since the Colt AR-15 was introduced to the civilian market, exactly one person under the age of 21 has used a legally acquired AR in a mass shooting? That person was Nikolas Cruz and the Colt AR-15 was introduced on the civilian market in 1964.

If one expands the scope to include all legally purchased military-style rifles the total climbs to two. 20-year-old ex-airman Dean Mellburg used an AK-47 copy to shoot up Fairchild Air Force Base in 1994.

Why would it surprise anyone that an organization devoted to firearms training and citizen’s rights would oppose what amounts to the legislative equivalent of the “snake-oil” patent remedies hawked by fast-talking pitchmen from the old traveling medicine shows?

This is the United States. It is okay to disagree and it’s also okay to act in support of one’s convictions.

The NRA is clearly still more broadly-based than any of the gun control advocacy groups. Yes, it’s a special-interest group; but so are they. Yes, the NRA spends lots of money to influence politicians and people. So do the other groups. Michael Bloomberg has committed millions of dollars to combatting a single piece of legislation. This isn’t supposition, it is documented.

The big difference between the NRA and its opposition is the fact that the NRA is composed of six million dues-paying members. Nearly 50% of the NRA’s income in 2016 came from dues alone. Add in member spending on subscriptions and NRA merchandise and the total reaches about 60%. Despite the claims, the NRA’s primary source of money from the gun industry is payments for advertising in NRA media.

Far too many ignorant people claim the NRA is a front or a shill for the gun industry. It’s not and doesn’t need to be; the gunmakers have their own group, the 8,000-member National Shooting Sports Foundation. This is the group that champions the unique interests of manufacturers, distributors and retailers of guns and shooting accessories. The NSSF and NRA may cooperate when their interests coincide, but each has its own agenda.

Incidentally, the NSSF also does more for real gun safety than any of the gun control advocates. It created Project ChildSafe, which so far has distributed more than 37 million free gun safety kits that include a cable-type gun lock, through law enforcement agencies since 1999. The Johnny-come-lately effort by the Brady Campaign isn’t even close.

Quite frankly, it’s a travesty that the public exposure to this issue is almost entirely one-sided. Opposing views are rarely presented and level playing fields are virtually non-existent. The views of as many as a third of American adults, at least 80 million gun owners, are seldom aired unless they agree with the accepted storyline.

For those that might doubt there are 80 million gun owners, that number is probably low as it’s based on the low range of estimates. We do know that 16.3 million concealed-carry permits are currently in force in the United States.

The public cannot make an informed decision on the issue hearing only one side. A lie that is big enough and endlessly repeated becomes accepted truth even thought it remains a lie. It’s about time that journalism remembers what its guiding principles are supposed to be. If the press wants to be the defender of truth, maybe it should start by telling it.

Professional writer. Passionately interested in facts. Founder of onewordtexas.org

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