U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Effect of the NRA (National Rifle Association) As a Citizens Special Interest Group Concerned With the Criminal Justice System

NCJ Number
P H Blackman; R E Gardiner
Date Published
14 pages
This paper traces the history of the National Rifle Association's (NRA) involvement in influencing gun control legislation and identifies the factors that have made its lobbying efforts so effective.
A description of the background and development of the NRA notes NRA support for moderate measures of gun control in the 1950's and the 1960's; however, in the 1970's, the NRA began to notice that legislation which it had earlier supported had failed to curb crime or impair criminal access to firearms, while it was adversely affecting the firearms freedoms of the law-abiding citizen. In 1977, after a purge of the leadership by the life members, the NRA Board of Directors officially agreed to oppose increasingly restrictive gun legislation. The NRA established a lobbying arm in 1975, with the formation, at the behest of the membership, of the Institute for Legislative Action, followed in 1976 by the formation of a political action committee, the NRA Political Victory Fund. The Firearms Civil Rights Legal Defense Fund was formed in 1979. With the continued interest in gun control and a variety of membership drives, the membership increased to 2.8 million in early 1984. The lobbying effectiveness of the NRA is attributed to (1) a membership committed to the goals of the Association, which translates into communications with legislators indicating opposition to more restrictive gun regulations, (2) NRA avoidance of issues which might prove divisive to its supporters and concentration on a single issue which has full membership support, (3) the obtaining of law enforcement support, and (4) a basic commitment to crime control through punitive action toward criminals. The future prospects for gun control as a means of crime control are discussed, followed by a listing of 34 references.