The NRA: A History of Extremism

While much attention has been focused on the inflammatory rhetoric of recent National Rifle Association (NRA) mailings, such language and extremism is nothing new for the gun lobby. For at least the past twenty years, the gun lobby has taken extreme positions and attempted to demonize its opponents. Below is just a sampling of some of the more outrageous comments made by NRA officials since the 1970s.

On Compromise:
"Compromise means losing." Neal Knox, April 1979

On discrimination:
"(T)here is no qualitative difference between a judge who is prejudiced against blacks and a judge who is prejudiced against...firearms owners." from an article opposing the appointment of Rep. Ab Mikva to the federal bench, September 1979, The American Rifleman<>

Gun Safety:
Whether a gun is "liable to explode or liable to fire when dropped means nothing to the victims of crime." October 1977, The American Rifleman<> arguing against legislation to require minimum safety standards for handguns

On an ATF proposal to tag explosives with traceable materials: It is an ATF "attempt to stick its bureaucratic nose under the gun control tent." December 1978, The American Rifleman<>

Legalizing Machine Guns:
The Congressional freeze on machine guns was "Unnecessary and discriminatory." The NRA "announced its commitment to reverse the statute...NRA officials...support the right of law-abiding individuals to choose to own any firearm, including automatic firearms...The NRA will actively work for repeal." September 1986, The American Rifleman<>

On banning cop killer bullets:
"Symbolically offensive." October 1986, The American Rifleman<>

On kids and guns:
"Because of NRA's efforts, this nation will have a future where children can continue to experience those Christmas Mornings that bring the joy of a new gun." J. Warren Cassidy, NRA Executive Vice President, December 1987

On self-defense:
"Should you shoot a rapist before he cuts your throat?" From an ad campaign unveiled in January 1988

On waiting periods:
"Do Robbers, Rapists and Murderers Wait in Lines?" From an ad campaign unveiled in January 1988

Tracing firearms:
Requiring unique serial numbers would result in "endless big brotherisms." NRA President Lloyd Mustin, August 1978

Constitutional Rights:
"Any right is above the doctrine of prior restraint by government." March 1977, The American Rifleman<> warning handgun maker Smith and Wesson that the NRA did not agree with its call for licensing handgun buyers to prevent felons from purchasing guns

Standing up for the poor:
Banning cheap handguns "denies a large segment of law-abiding citizens the right to equal protection under the law." October 1977, The American Rifleman<> explaining NRA opposition to legislation outlawing Saturday Night Specials

Attempts to ban plastic guns:
"The consideration of thinly disguised anti-gun legislation is just a dangerous ruse." James Jay Baker, NRA lobbyist, September 1987

Dictators on the Bench:
Mikva's views are that of a "tinpot dictator," Neal Knox, September 1979

And on ATF:
"Dear Mr. Carter
....We see no need for a federal law that will loose hordes of agents on private homes in the dark of night, seeking people who have done no harm. ... The NRA."

From an open letter to President-Elect Carter, January 1977
"(T)here is a new breed of agents within the gun control bureaucracy. These people are young, vehemently anti-gun, and they enjoy their work. They are zealots who believe their role is to seize firearms--to take guns form citizens--to disarm you and me." Neal Knox, March 1978,

The NRA "calls for Congressional hearings into the enforcement abuses by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms of CGA `68." April 1979, The American Rifleman

"It is exactly BATF's arbitrary standards, its excessive breaches of authority and its abusive law enforcement practices...that have led to widespread civil liberties violations." July 1980, The American Rifleman<>

"..the worst of those assaults have been the brutal crusade against the civil liberties of firearms owners, a crusade systematically carried out by Jimmy Carter's Federal gun police." October 1980, The American Rifleman<>

Attempts to abolish ATF are "testimony to the heightened awareness of the abuse which gun owners have endured over the past decade." April 1982, The American Rifleman<>

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