It’s a gun. You put the ball in a barrel, you put a spring at one end. You put a barrel at the other end and you use two springs. The ball falls by itself. Is that a simple gun? It’s not.”
It might seem like a simple answer, but as he explained his design, the inventor took a moment to demonstrate a series of images. “You’d think, that would be easy. But to draw that you’d have to know what this thing is going to do. And we know!”
So with a little ingenuity, the creators of the AR-15 took an original weapon, a gun so simple, so functional, that any layperson could build it. In fact, this was the premise behind the company behind the gun: the National Firearms Museum, located in Newtown, Conn.
A little digging reveals that this museum is in fact a part of the National Rifle Association. It was founded in 1871, but that was before America’s Second Amendment went into effect in 1898. The NRA actually is the country’s oldest gun owners’ organization and a pioneer in gun rights advocacy. But today, the NRA officially only represents gun owners. NRA members, like the people who actually buy military-style weapons, are largely self-selected.
And so, the NRA’s mission has come to be focused on public education. This has led to some of the most influential statements about gun rights. It’s what brought the president to his first press conference after the Newtown shootings. It was also what led President Obama to support a bipartisan bill for universal background checks and more government surveillance.
“What you’re talking about is an individual right to be able to keep and bear arms for self-defense,” Obama said in April.
It also helped lead to the passage of two new amendments to the Constitution in 2007 that restricted weapons and magazines.
But the NRA has always been criticized for being out of touch with mainstream American culture.
“Their mission has largely been symbolic, and even now they maintain that they won’t get any traction because of the NRA,” said Andrew Arulanandam, a political scientist at Fordham University.
So perhaps it’s not surprising to find them out-of-step with the times.
After all, when the NRA was founded, gun control was not yet the hot topic everyone was talking about.
Take a look at this excerpt from the NRA’s “An Agenda for America’s Future
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