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The National Rifle Association (NRA) has gone through a metamorphosis since its founding after the Civil War. Created to improve marksmanship among soldiers and recruits, it at first cooperated with the federal government on concealed weapon permits and other laws regulating firearms.
Over time, however, the NRA grew into a powerful organization that opposed almost all gun control measures. It created a lobbying arm, raised a substantial war chest, and developed largely unrivaled influence over lawmakers. The NRA actively helped to block efforts to ban assault rifles after the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, when a gunman killed 20 first-graders and six staff members.
More recently, a gunman killed at least 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24, 2022. The NRA’s role was further put under the microscope given that the mass shooting occurred just days before the organization’s annual meeting in Houston, less than 300 miles away from Uvalde, and its speakers list included Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Senator Ted Cruz, both of whom exert tremendous political power over the issue of gun safety and have been adamant supporters of the NRA.
Gun control groups such as Everytown for Gun Safety, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, and March for Our Lives have been challenging the NRA’s primacy among politicians and at the polls in recent years. In 2020, New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit demanding its dissolution, alleging top leadership diverted funds for their personal use. Five months after that lawsuit was filed, the organization filed for bankruptcy, which was blocked by a judge as was James’ original lawsuit in 2022.
To see how the NRA became what it is today, Stacker compiled a timeline of its history, from its founding to its current court battles. All information was gleaned from historical records, primary documents, and news and legal accounts.
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