Brief History of the NRA


The National Rifle Association in its simplest form is the largest gun
club in the world. The organization was founded in 1871 by former Union Army
officers to encourage sport shooting in order to have a fine tuned militia in
case of emergency. The Union officers believed that a well regulated militia
was integral for the security of a free state. It is an organization that
opposes gun control, it believes in the individual defense of the uses of
firearms, and it is interested in all aspects of shooting sports.1
Today, the organization stands with approximately 3.4 million members.
Within the NRA, there are four major organs. The Institute for Legislative
Action (is the lobbying arm), the political Victory Fund (which is a political
action committee), the Civil Rights Legal Defense Fund (deals with scholarly
research and legal developments), and the Grass Roots Division (which
specializes in raising support through grass roots methods). As a membership
organization, the NRA\'s directions is set by voting members. The direction of
the policies are carried out by a 75 member board that is geographically
distributed. The Board of Directors are elected by secret ballot.2

Brady Act

The Brady Act was approved by Congress in November of 1993 and was then
signed into law by President Clinton later in the month. The act was originally
named for anti gun lobbyist Sarah Brady, and not for former press secretary Jim
Brady. It was through Jim Brady\'s support and the media coverage that linked
his name to the act. The act requires that there be a waiting period of five
state government business days at the time an individual applies to purchase a
handgun from a federal firearm license. During the five day wait, the local
sheriff or police chief must "make a reasonable effort" to see if the purchaser
is prohibited from owning a handgun. The police official may approve the sale
before the five day period only if the record check has been completed or if he
believes the purchaser needs a handgun immediately to protect himself or his
family.3
Presently, the Clinton administration isn\'t complying with the Brady Act.
The act requires that within 60 months of enactment, the Attorney General must
establish a national instant criminal background check system that allows
federal firearms licensees to have access through some type of electronic method.
The reason for the delay lies with the fact that U.S. Circuit Courts have split
on whether the Brady Act violates the 10th amendment of the Constitution by
allowing law enforcement agencies to conduct criminal records checks in
association with the purchase of a handgun.4 It also may involve the access of
medical records since some states require that hospitals report mental patients
to the state, which may put them in the same database along with felons.5

Why Brady Fails

The Brady Bill is a failure and does not prevent criminals from
obtaining handguns. After the enactment of the law for a period of 17 months,
only 7 individuals were convicted of illegal attempts to purchase a handgun. By
comparison, according to the Virginia State Police during the period between
November 1989 and June 1996, the state\'s instant check system facilitated the
arrest of 2,479 persons. Both the bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and
the Department of Justice have done studies that only show 7% of armed career
criminals obtain firearms from legally licensed shops. The FBI reported in 1993
and 1994 that homicide rates had dropped 5%. Attorney General Janet Reno
credited the reduction to community policing, while criminologists attributed
the trend to maturing gang members who are now less willing to reside turf
disputes violently. Neither attributed the decline to the Brady Bill.6
A National Association of Chiefs of Police Poll was released in May of
this year that stated 85% of the police chiefs believe that the Brady Bill
hasn\'t stopped criminals from obtaining firearms.7 The General Accounting
Office reported that during the act\'s first year, 95.2% of firearms applications
went through the system without a hitch.8
When President Clinton signed the bill into law, he was already provided
with information that said the bill would have no effect on the states with the
highest crime rates. Eighteen states and the District of Columbia were exempt
from the 5 day wait since they already had gun delaying measures in place.
These states and D.C. account for 63% of all violent crimes; including 58% of
all murders.9 California which is exempt because it has a 15 day waiting period,
has more murders and violent crimes than any other state. New York which