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How the NRA Works


History of the NRA

Col. William C. Church and Gen. George Wingate sought to promote and encou­rage rifle shooting within their troops when they decided to form the National Rifle Association in 1871. In November of that year, the state of New York granted them a charter, and they NRA was officially born.

­The NRA needed a first president, and one candidate stood out above the rest. Ambrose Burnside was a Civil War veteran and had also served as the governor of Rhode Island and as a U.S. senator. His first order of business was procuring grounds for rifle practice. Practice grounds were funded by the state of New York and established on Long Island, but public opposition of rifle shooting forced the NRA to return the land to the state and move their operations to New Jersey in 1892. Here, they found a permanent home to hold practices and competitions.

By 1903, the NRA decided to reach out to the youth of America by chartering rifle clubs at colleges, universities and military academies. All the while, it continued to encourage great marksmanship, which it asserted was for the benefit of the country. This theory would be tested in the years to come.

The NRA dove into World War II headfirst. It lent land to the military for practice and instruction and spearheaded a gun collection to aid weapon-lacking Britain. After the war, the group began to seek its next demographic and began to focus on training hunters.

Today, the NRA still aims to educate citizens about rifles but has taken on a heavily political role as reformers have threatened to change the Second Amendment. Read on to find out the NRA's mission.