While NRA might officially stand for National Rifle Association, we prefer to call them the National Rambunctious Assholes. This gang of weapon-loving daredevils was founded in 1871 by Captain George Wood Wingate. Wingate fought for the Union in the Civil War and saw how abysmal soldiers were at firing rifles so he founded the organization to "promote and encourage rifle shooting" and started establishing rifle clubs around the country.
For years, it was all very innocent and sporting. Around 1934 the group started sending mailers to members with information about upcoming firearm bills. They eventually waded into politics in SUPPORT of two major gun control (yeah, you read that correctly) acts: The National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA) and Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA). Karl Frederick, NRA President in 1934, literally, in real life, 100% truthfully said this: "I have never believed in the general practice of carrying weapons. I seldom carry one. ... I do not believe in the general promiscuous toting of guns. I think it should be sharply restricted and only under licenses."
Oh how times have change.
The NRA was largely focused with sportsmen and hunters until the mid 1970s, but with the passage of the GCA of 1968, which imposed gun control restrictions like age limits and barring the mentally ill from buying guns, the group's membership began to panic. 1968 was, after all, a time of great social upheaval and the NRA's largely white, libertarian rural membership started to radicalize as a result. Suddenly second amendment advocacy, which had been a pet issue of the Black Panthers, turned into a bedrock of the NRA's white libertarian ethos. Nothing stops change like a gun, right?
With a change in leadership in 1975, the group established their lobbying arm, the Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA). By 1976 they had established their PAC, the Political Victory Fund. Nothing was ever the same.
The source of the NRA's power is pretty simple actually: Money. Duh. The Orange Fuhrer himself is a perfect example; he's a member of the NRA and received $30 million from the organisation to support his presidential campaign.
The money doesn't just go to the top, either. Among the 535 current members of the House and Senate, 307 have received either direct campaign contributions from the NRA and its affiliates or indirect NRA spending for advertising. Many have had years of support from the organization. (There are eight lawmakers currently serving who have received at least $1 MILLION in campaign contributions over the course of their careers.)
With single issue groups like the NRA, the ratio of how much they spend versus their competitors is also important. In the 2018 election cycle so far, gun rights groups including the NRA have outspent gun control organizations by more than 40 to 1. In total, current members of congress have received $13 million from gun rights groups compared to the $560k they've gotten from gun control advocates. Plus, the ratio on spending for lobbying is much the same. The NRA vastly outspends its competitors.
We leave you with this thought: ARGHGHGHGHGH!