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My purpose of this particular entry is not to repeat that which others have far more eloquently and with greater detail elaborated on the political history of the NRA.  From their apolitical beginnings, to their transformation to a political organization in the 1968-1978 era, the NRA has changed from an organization primarily focused on hunting safety and being a responsible sportsman, into what they are now.

Rather, I thought I would share information on those early transformative years of the NRA, and my personal exposure to it.  More information below the orange squiggles.

I grew up in the country.  I was surrounded by dairy farms, cornfields, and forests that were filled with woodland creatures of various sorts.  My dad was an ardent hunter, who owned anywhere from 12 to 20 firearms of various sorts, primarily shotguns and rifles.  He went deer hunting every year, and always bagged a deer.  I grew up eating venison from the freezer all winter long.  He grew up in the hills, and knew the best places to go for hunting.  He was very safety conscious, and always kept his firearms locked up, with the ammunition under separate lock and key.  He was also president of the local Rod and Gun club.

One of my most favorite gifts growing up was a BB gun.  It was the kind that the more you pumped it, the greater the BB velocity.  Even with the BB gun, my Dad taught me (and enforced) rigorous gun safety requirements.  Never point it at a person, never carry it with your finger on the trigger, never store it loaded, etc.  So I had a keen understanding of gun safety well before I picked up my first 'real' firearm.

Growing up, I used to plink at cans with a single shot .22 rifle, along with the occasional rat in the local crick.  I was never an ardent hunter like my Dad, but certainly enjoyed going to the skeet range with him to blast away at the clay pigeons.  As I got older I would go deer hunting with my Dad, where we would sometimes walk up to 20 miles through the woods in a day.  Opening day of deer season, our high school typically had 50% attendance, including many teachers that went hunting.

I do have to say - I never cared much for opening day of deer season.  The forest was more like a militia than a woodlands, with the sound of so many stray shots buzzing around.  Sometimes, you could actually track a deer just by the shots being taken at him.

The reason I have shared all this, is to provide a framework and context of what I am going to say next.

In 1973, my two older sisters decided it would be a great idea to get my Dad a one-year membership to the NRA.  This also included a subscription to their magazine 'The American Rifleman', along with an NRA baseball cap.

My Dad never developed the 'Dad shows fake appreciation' skill sometimes required by all Dads when given something that they don't much care for.  When he opened this gift, I could instantly see the disdain on his face.  He did remember to say thank you, but that was the extent of it.  He never read the magazine, he never wore the baseball cap, and at the end of the year he let the membership expire.

Even back then, in 1973 - 40 years ago - the NRA was considered an extremist organization by my Dad, an ardent sportsman and hunter.  And since then, it has only grown more extremist.  I will always remember my Dad, and his reaction even back then, and his wisdom to recognize the NRA for what it was.  Thank you Dad for all you have taught me, and may God rest your soul.

Originally posted to Uncommitted on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 08:26 AM PDT.

Also republished by Repeal or Amend the Second Amendment (RASA) and Shut Down the NRA.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I had a very similar (4+ / 0-)

    childhood and father.  I also thank God that he passed his wisdom on to us.  My brother hunts and fishes like a mountain man and he is as distainful of the gun culture as he could be.  I have not continued hunting in my adulthood but my love of the outdoors and conservation comes straight from my Dad.  I choose to enjoy it through photography.  Thanks Dad, I love you.

    Everyone! Arms akimbo!

    by tobendaro on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 09:30:37 AM PDT

  •  How NRA’s true believers converted a (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Smoh, rodentrancher, a2nite

    marksmanship group into a mighty gun lobby:

    In the second half of the 1970s, the NRA faced a crossroads. Would it remain an Establishment institution, partnering with such mainstream entities as the Ford Foundation and focusing on shooting competitions? Or would it roll up its sleeves and fight hammer and tongs against the gun-control advocates? Or flee to the Mountain West? The latter was appealing, and the NRA leadership decided to move the headquarters to Colorado and also spend $30 million to build a recreational facility in New Mexico called the National Outdoor Center.

    The moderates felt rejected by both the NRA hard-liners and the Washington elite.

    “Because of the political direction the NRA was taking, they weren’t being invited to parties and their wives were not happy,” says Jeff Knox, Neal’s son and director of the Firearms Coalition, which fights for the Second Amendment and against laws restricting guns or ammunition. “Dad was on the phone constantly with various people around the country. He had his copy of the NRA bylaws and Robert’s Rules, highlighted and marked. My father and a lot of local club leaders and state association guys organized their troops.”

    Theirs was a grass-roots movement within the NRA. The solution was to use the membership to make changes. The bylaws of the NRA gave members power on the convention floor to vote for changes in the NRA governing structure.

    “We were fighting the federal government on one hand and internal NRA on the other hand,” Aquilino says.

    In Cincinnati, Knox read the group’s demands, 15 of them, including one that would give the members of the NRA the right to pick the executive vice president, rather than letting the NRA’s board decide. The coup took hours to accomplish. Joe Tartaro, a rebel, remembers the evening as “electric.” The hall’s vending machine ran out of sodas.

    By 3:30 in the morning the NRA had a whole new look. Gone were the Old Guard officers, including Maxwell Rich, the ousted executive vice president. The members replaced him with an ideological soul mate of Knox’s named Harlon Carter.
  •  I wish this diary would get more eyes. (6+ / 0-)

    It is seldom we get to read such a calm and rational and personal story on this topic. Thank you.

    Cats are better than therapy, and I'm a therapist.

    by Smoh on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 09:57:25 AM PDT

  •  Thanks, the parallels with the evil RW Rs are (0+ / 0-)


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