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By Angel Shamaya
March 29, 2002
— NRA Executive Vice President Franklin L. Orth
NRA’s American Rifleman Magazine, March 1968, P. 22
When I recently used the term "NRA-supported" in reference to the National Firearms Act of 1934, some readers asked why I would assert such a thing. They believed NRA had no involvement in gun control politics back then. Because they and others didn’t believe me, I prepared this historical record — to prove my claim and inform others.
I agree that blaming today’s NRA management for transgressions of their predecessors is wrong. But confronting NRA management’s longstanding support of gun control is a first step toward understanding that "My NRA" of today views the Second Amendment differently than America’s Founders did — and they have for a very long time.
Don’t take my word for it.
KeepAndBearArms.com — The National Rifle Association has been called "the largest and oldest gun control organization in America" by more than a few gun owners. A fair amount of evidence supports their claim.
As the Gun Control Act of 1968 was nearing the President’s desk, NRA was being accused by Senator Robert Kennedy (D-NY) of not supporting "any legislation to try and control the misuse of rifles and pistols in this country." Naturally, NRA needed to respond to the allegation, and they responded with great detail and unusual candor.
To deflect Senator Kennedy’s assertion, NRA published an article by their magazine’s Associate Editor entitled "WHERE THE NRA STANDS ON GUN LEGISLATION" — elaborating at length about NRA’s longstanding support for a wide variety of gun controls that included gun and gunowner registration, waiting periods, age restrictions, licenses for carrying a firearm or having a firearm in your vehicle, increased penalties for violating gun laws, regulating ammunition and more.
Following are several telling quotes from the March 1968 American Rifleman — NRA’s premier magazine, then and now — and brief analysis of a few of them. The complete article from which these quotes were taken can be found further below. Scanned images of this article are also linked below.
First, let’s clear up the matter of NRA’s support of NFA’34:
"The NRA supported The National Firearms Act of 1934 which taxes and requires registration of such firearms as machine guns, sawed-off rifles and sawed-off shotguns. … NRA support of Federal gun legislation did not stop with the earlier Dodd bills. It currently backs several Senate and House bills which, through amendment, would put new teeth into the National and Federal Firearms Acts." —American Rifleman, March 1968, P. 22
Unless someone has evidence to prove that the NRA lied to its membership in its premier magazine, let the record show that the NRA got behind the first unconstitutional federal gun law in America and then bragged about having done so, many years later — decades after the law had been continually used to violate the rights of untold numbers of American citizens, including, surely, their own members.
The "Dodd" to which the above quote refers is the late Senator Thomas J. Dodd. Senator Dodd mimicked the Nazi Weapons Law of 1938, applied the underlying principles to the Gun Control Act of 1968, and took a leading role in getting the bill signed into federal law.
"The NRA supported The Federal Firearms Act of 1938, which regulates interstate and foreign commerce in firearms and pistol or revolver ammunition … " (P. 22)
The term "interstate commerce" is the BATF’s fundamental justification for its firearms branch — a "color of law" excuse for the many assaults of innocent people they’ve conducted.
"The NRA supported the original ’Dodd Bill’ to amend the Federal Firearms Act in regard to handguns when it was introduced as S.1975 in August, 1963. Among its provisions was the requirement that a purchaser submit a notarized statement to the shipper that he was over 18 and not legally disqualified from possessing a handgun." (P. 22)
That’s one form of registration.
"In January, 1965, with the continued support of the NRA, Senator Dodd introduced an amended version of his first bill, now designated 5.14 and expanded to cover rifles and shotguns as well as handguns." (P. 22)
That’s an extension of one form of registration to all types of guns not already under registration schemes at the time.
In order to "put new teeth into the National and Federal Firearms Acts," NRA management also pressed the federal government, in 1968, to:
"Regulate the movement of handguns in interstate and foreign commerce by:
"A. requiring a sworn statement, containing certain information, from the purchaser to the seller for the receipt of a handgun in interstate commerce;"
That’s a registration list.
"B. providing for notification of local police of prospective sales;"
That’s another registration mechanism.
"C. requiring an additional 7-day waiting period by the seller after receipt of acknowledgement of notification to local police;"
Wait a week to exercise your inalienable rights.
"D. prescribing a minimum age of 21 for obtaining a license to sell firearms and increasing the license fees;"
That is called Age Discrimination. In essence, in 1968, the NRA was saying "You can go die over in Vietnam for your country at age 18, but you can’t sell a constitutionally protected item to your own neighbors for three more years."
"E. providing for written notification by manufacturer or dealer to carrier that a firearm is being shipped in interstate commerce;"
"Carrier" includes the U.S. Postal Service — another ripe opportunity for the federal government to collect names of gun buyers.
"F. increasing penalties for violation." (P. 22-23)
What do you think America’s Founders would say about the NRA calling for "increasing penalties for violation" of unconstitutional gun laws?
At least as early as 1930, the NRA supported:
" … requir[ing] the purchaser of a pistol to give information about himself which is submitted by the seller to local police authorities … "
Historically noteworthy is the fact that the Germans were simultaneously doing the same thing, laying the groundwork for a Hitler to happen.
" … requir[ing] a license to carry a pistol concealed on one’s person or in a vehicle … " [emphasis mine]
Ever heard of a license to carry a firearm in a vehicle? NRA has — over 70 years ago.
Not only has NRA management long supported gun owner registration, they’ve worked hard for it and still do. And NRA’s current management still supports "penalties" for exercising your rights, which they now call "zero tolerance enforcement". (See Project Exile Condemnation Coalition and the Project Exile Archives for more information.)
"Many other instances of NRA support for worthwhile gun legislation could be quoted. But these suffice to show that Senator Kennedy’s ’terrible indictment’ of the NRA is groundless." (P. 23)
"Worthwhile gun legislation"?
The "terrible indictment" of NRA, as you will see in the full text below, was that NRA didn’t support gun control. NRA set that matter straight with a loud thud. NRA Management still to this day supports a wide variety of ever-complex gun controls. And despite taking in hundreds of millions of dollars a year, they’ve still never managed a Supreme Court court victory based on the Second Amendment’s historically-valid "individual right" argument. It’s no wonder — their version of the Second Amendment is different from that of America’s Founding Fathers.
Do notice the subtitle of NRA’s 1968 article below. A "97-year record" of supporting gun control, to NRA’s management, was a matter of pride. Some things never change:
"We think it’s reasonable to support the federal Gun-Free School Zones Act. … We think it’s reasonable to expect full enforcement of federal firearms laws by the federal government. … That’s why we support Project Exile -- the fierce prosecution of federal gun laws … we think it’s reasonable because it works. … We only support what works and our list is proud."
— NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre
Congressional Testimony, May 27, 1999
Hearing Before 106th Congress
House of Representatives
Committee On The Judiciary
Subcommittee On Crime
NOTE: This article has been out of print for decades and is very hard to find, so we include the full text. This information is distributed free of charge, is not being used for profit and is strictly for educational purposes. Scanned images of this article can be accessed by clicking the following links: Page 22 (319K), Page 23 (275K). (In fact, if you’d like, you can see a scanned image of the color cover of the magazine where this gun control braggadocio was published.)
BEGIN TEXT OF PAGES 22 AND 23 OF NRA’S
AMERICAN RIFLEMAN MAGAZINE, MARCH 1968 EDITION
WHERE THE NRA STANDS ON GUN LEGISLATION
97-year record shows positive approach to workable gun laws
By ALAN C. WEBBER
THE AMERICAN RIFLEMAN
"I think it is a terrible indictment of the National Rifle Association that they haven’t supported any legislation to try and control the misuse of rifles and pistols in this country."
That flat assertion was made by Senator Robert Kennedy (N.Y.), Jan. 16 in addressing the New York State University law school in Buffalo.
Terming Kennedy’s accusation "a smear of a great American organization," NRA Executive Vice President Franklin L. Orth pointed out that "The National Rifle Association has been in support of workable, enforceable gun control legislation since its very inception in 1871."
A few days later, Orth seconded the request of President Lyndon Johnson, made Jan. 17 in his State of the Union message, for a curb on mail-order sales.
"The duty of Congress is clear," Orth said, "it should act now to pass legislation that will keep undesirables, including criminals, drug addicts and persons adjudged mentally irresponsible or alcoholic, or juveniles from obtaining firearms through the mails."
The NRA position, as stated by Orth, emphasizes that the NRA has consistently supported gun legislation which it feels would penalize misuse of guns without harassing law-abiding hunters, target shooters and collectors.
Here is the record over the years:
Item: The late Karl T. Frederick, an NRA president, served for years as special consultant with the Commissioners on Uniform State Laws to frame The Uniform Firearms Act of 1930.
Adopted by Alabama, Indiana, the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, and Washington, the Act directly attacks the "mail order murder" to which President Johnson referred in his State of the Union Message. It specifically forbids delivery of pistols to convicts, drug addicts, habitual drunkards, incompetents, and minors under the age of 18. Other salient provisions of the Act require a license to carry a pistol concealed on one’s person or in a vehicle; require the purchaser of a pistol to give information about himself which is submitted by the seller to local police authorities; specify a 48-hour time lapse between application for purchase and delivery.
Item: The NRA supported The National Firearms Act of 1934 which taxes and requires registration of such firearms as machine guns, sawed-off rifles and sawed-off shotguns.
Item: The NRA supported The Federal Firearms Act of 1938, which regulates interstate and foreign commerce in firearms and pistol or revolver ammunition, and prohibits the movement in interstate or foreign commerce of firearms and ammunition between certain persons and under certain conditions.
More recently, the spate of articles on gun legislation has spread the erroneous impression that the NRA has always opposed Senator Thomas J. Dodd’s attempts to keep guns out of the hands of juveniles. This is simply untrue. The facts are these:
The NRA worked closely with the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency, of which Senator Dodd was chairman, in its investigation into the relationship between juvenile crime and the availability of firearms.
The NRA supported the original "Dodd Bill" to amend the Federal Firearms Act in regard to handguns when it was introduced as S.1975 in August, 1963. Among its provisions was the requirement that a purchaser submit a notarized statement to the shipper that he was over 18 and not legally disqualified from possessing a handgun.
In January, 1965, with the continued support of the NRA, Senator Dodd introduced an amended version of his first bill, now designated 5.14 and expanded to cover rifles and shotguns as well as handguns.
The parting of the ways came only when Senator Dodd introduced still another bill (S.1592) in March, 1965, which drastically intensified his earlier bills. The NRA opposed S.1592 and subsequent bills introduced by the Connecticut Senator. If passed into law, S.1592 would, among other things, have ended all interstate shipments of firearms except to persons holding a Federal firearms license. It also would have prohibited even a Federal licensee from selling a pistol to anyone residing in another State.
NRA support of Federal gun legislation did not stop with the earlier Dodd bills. It currently backs several Senate and House bills which, through amendment, would put new teeth into the National and Federal Firearms Acts. The essential provisions which the NRA supports are contained in 2 Senate bills introduced by Senator Roman L. Hruska (Nebr.) and House bills introduced by Congressmen Cecil R. King (17th fist.-Calif.) and Robert L. F. Sikes (1st Dist.Fla.). These bills would:
1. Impose a mandatory penalty for the carrying or use of a firearm, transported in interstate or foreign commerce, during the commission of certain crimes.
2. Place "destructive devices" (bombs, mines, grenades, crew-served military ordnance) under Federal regulation.
3. Prohibit any licensed manufacturer or dealer from shipping any firearm to any person in any State in violation of the laws of that state.
4. Regulate the movement of handguns in interstate and foreign commerce by:
A. requiring a sworn statement, containing certain information, from the
CONTINUED ON PAGE 23 (text below)
THE AMERICAN RIFLEMAN
purchaser to the seller for the receipt of a handgun in interstate commerce;
B. providing for notification of local police of prospective sales;
C. requiring an additional 7-day waiting period by the seller after receipt of acknowledgement of notification to local police;
D. prescribing a minimum age of 21 for obtaining a license to sell firearms and increasing the license fees;
E. providing for written notification by manufacturer or dealer to carrier that a firearm is being shipped in interstate commerce;
F. increasing penalties for violation.
Through bulletins to its members, the NRA has often voiced approval and support of State and local ordinances designed to keep firearms out of the hands of undesirables. A bulletin of Feb. 20, 1964 notified Virginia members of the introduction in the Virginia House of Delegates of a bill requiring a 72-hour waiting period for purchase of a handgun. In the bulletin, which outlined the provisions of the bill, NRA Secretary Frank C. Daniel commented as follows:
"A number of States and local jurisdictions have a waiting period of varying length for the purchase of a concealable firearm; and, where intelligently and reasonably administered, it has not proved to be an undue burden on the shooter and sportsman. … The bill from a technical point of view adequately protects citizens of good character from any arbitrary denial of their right to purchase a handgun. It should be judged on the basis of whether or not a waiting period for the purchase of a handgun is desirable for the State."
The bill was killed in the House Feb. 25, 1964.
When bills were introduced in the Illinois legislature in February, 1965, to provide mandatory penalties for crimes committed while armed with a firearm, the NRA expressed its opinion to Illinois members in these terms:
NRA Secretary Daniel
"The purpose of these bills is to penalize the criminal misuse of firearms and weapons, and not the firearms themselves. This is a sound and reasonable basis for regulation and is aimed in the right direction--that of criminal conduct when armed. Senate Bill No. 351 and House Bill No. 472 are worthy of the support of the sports-men of the State of Illinois."
The bills were passed by the Senate and House but were vetoed by Gov. Otto Kerner a few months later.
Many other instances of NRA support for worthwhile gun legislation could be quoted. But these suffice to show that Senator Kennedy’s "terrible indictment" of the NRA is groundless.
END TEXT OF PAGES 22 AND 23 OF NRA’S
AMERICAN RIFLEMAN MAGAZINE, MARCH 1968 EDITION