Thomas Robinson

21 Facts About the NRA That Go Beyond the Barrel

So you think you know the NRA? Sure, it’s that big, influential organization with some pretty strong opinions on gun rights. We’ve all heard about them, but we bet there’s a ton you don’t know about them. Today, we’ve got 21 facts about the National Rifle Association (NRA) that you probably don’t know.

The NRA’s Origins

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Despite what you might think, the NRA wasn’t created because people wanted to fight burglars or practice hunting. Nope, William Church and George Wingate founded it in 1871 to “promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis.” Imagine coming out of the Civil War thinking, “Well, that was rough. Let’s start a club to shoot targets better!”

The Great NRA Cookbook Adventure

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Speaking of merch, the NRA once even made their very own cookbook – yes, really! In 1992, they published the ‘NRA Members’ Wild Game Cookbook.’ It’s filled with dishes that you can make using, you guessed it, the game you’ve hunted. Apparently, nothing makes a hunt greater than turning your day’s catch into a gourmet meal. 

A Presidential Affair

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You might think the Oval Office and guns only mix in action movies, but several U.S. Presidents were NRA members. Even Teddy Roosevelt, the man, the myth, the mustache, was part of the club! Some of the other famous members include Ulysses S. Grant, John F. Kennedy, and, of course, Donald Trump. A report from Business Insider actually claimed that 20% of US Presidents were NRA members!

The First Headquarters

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Where do you set up shop if you’re trying to improve people’s marksmanship? A fancy office? In fact, the NRA’s first headquarters in 1871 doubled as a shooting range! They probably thought that anyone who likes the sweet serenade of gunfire in the background would be ready to sign up!

Youth Programs Galore

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The NRA might sound like a grown-up’s only club, but they’re also into youth programs. Of course, they’re not exactly handing out rifles at daycare, but they do offer educational resources on safety and sportsmanship. Their main goal is to teach kids about being responsible with firearms.

A Museum That’s Locked and Loaded

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The NRA National Firearms Museum is like Disneyland for gun lovers. With over 3,000 firearms on display, it’s a walk through the history of bangs and booms. You can see muskets that saw the Revolutionary War, along with the latest in high-tech weaponry. It’s a museum where silence is definitely not golden!

Competitions That Are a Blast

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However, the NRA isn’t just about the talk. They also host shooting competitions that are essentially like the Olympics of the firearm world. It doesn’t matter if you’re into precision target shooting or something that feels more like a Wild West shootout – they’ve got a competition for almost everyone.

A Big, Fat Membership

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We all know the NRA is big, but just how big is it? Well, in December 2018, the NRA claimed that it had almost 5 million members, although it has not been confirmed by a third party. Either way, this is one giant family that’s armed and really passionate about their Second Amendment rights. It’s a community where “How’s your aim?” is the same as “How’s the weather?”

They Teach Police Too

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Most people know that the NRA teaches civilians about shooting straight. But did you know they’ve also got programs for police officers, too? When you’re in a high-speed chase or a doughnut shop standoff, you want your aim to be top-notch. There’s no place better to learn about aiming than from the NRA.

The NRA’s Cinematic Cameo

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Believe it or not, the NRA has had its moments in the cinematic spotlight. For example, the NRA headquarters made a cameo in Michael Moore’s documentary, ‘Bowling for Columbine.’ Of course, the film didn’t exactly show the NRA in a flattering light, but hey, all publicity is good publicity, right?

The Annual Meeting Extravaganza

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The NRA’s Annual Meetings & Exhibits are like Comic-Con for gun enthusiasts. In 2022, reports claim they had around 61,000 attendees at one of their meetings, although this was a decline from previous years. It’s essentially a convention center packed with firearms, accessories, and like-minded individuals discussing the latest in gun tech.

Insurance, But Make It NRA-Style

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Yes, you read that right. The NRA offers insurance for firearms! In a world where you can insure your car, your house, and even your pet, why not your gun? This way, if your gun gets stolen or damaged, you’re covered. Just imagine filing a claim for your beloved shotgun – now that’s a conversation starter.

A Lobbying Powerhouse

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However, not everything is so great about the NRA. They’re a pretty big lobbying force and often do the best they can to avoid any gun control measures being passed in Congress. This has often led to criticism from people who are more supportive of such measures. However, supporters claim the NRA is just protecting people’s Second Amendment rights.

An Unexpected Start to Gun Control Advocacy

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Speaking of gun control, here’s a bit of irony. During the early 20th century, the NRA was actually a huge supporter of gun control measures! Yep, that’s right – they supported laws that regulated machine guns and sawed-off shotguns. They were all for keeping the streets safe from gangsters with Tommy guns.

A Switch in the 1970s

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So what happened to it? Well, In the 1970s, the NRA changed its focus from marksmanship and conservation to political action for gun rights. This change transformed the group into the political monster that we know them as today. They basically went from practicing shooting to shaking up Capitol Hill. 

Celebrity Endorsements

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The NRA has had its share of celebrity members, from actors to musicians, who believe in the right to bear arms. For example, Ted Nugent, Chuck Norris, Tom Selleck, Whoopi Goldberg, and many other celebrities have been members of the NRA. Hollywood star Charlton Heston was even the NRA president for five years!

Other Efforts

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While guns are their bread and butter, the NRA also dips its toes in conservation efforts and hunting rights. They have several programs related to educating hunters and protecting hunter’s rights. The organization is a strong believer in hunting being an “American tradition,” and they even claim to have “developed hunter safety training as it’s known today.”

A Very Special Date

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April 25 is National NRA Day. Mark your calendars because this is one holiday where you get to show your rifles some love and maybe even take them out for a nice day at the range. The NRA hosts several special events on this day, too, including a Safety & Firearm Education Event, Shotgun Shooting, NRA 3 Gun Experience, and plenty of competitions.

Fashion Forward

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Outside of guns, the NRA has plenty of merch for gun fans to buy. From branded clothing to accessories, they make sure you can express your love for firearms fashionably. It’s the only club where you can get a hat, a T-shirt, and a gun holster to match. This way, you can strut your stuff, showing off your Second Amendment support with every step. 

A Philanthropic Side

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The NRA Foundation has given millions to numerous charities and schools. They’re putting their money where their mouth is so that kids can learn about gun safety and responsibility from the get-go. According to researchers, the foundation donated around $7.3 million between 2010 and 2016.

An International Presence

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But it’s not just in America. The NRA has members and programs in other countries – even in countries with strict gun laws, like the United Kingdom. Of course, these other branches aren’t as popular as the ones in America. But still, they’re spreading the world of gun rights and marksmanship across the globe, one country at a time.

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