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Were NRA & Manufacturers Complicit in the Gun Control Act of 1968?

A post by Lyle over at View from North Central Idaho got me thinking about a topic I started researching:

“The patent on the M1 carbine was owned by Western Cartridge Co. and David “Carbine” Williams, and still in effect when Penney and Arnold wanted to begin manufacturing M1 carbines in 1958. Penney and Arnold contacted Winchester-Western and offered them a percentage per carbine manufactured, in return for permission to manufacture the M1 carbine. John Olin, owner of Winchester-Western, refused. Olin, Winchester-Western, and more than a few other American manufacturers were opposed to all of the surplus weapons being returned to the United States, where they were being sold at prices the manufacturers couldn’t compete with. This opposition eventually led the manufacturers and the National Rifle Association to support the Gun Control Act of 1968, which, amongst many other things, prohibited the importation of U.S. military surplus.

I’ve tried, at various times, to do some research on the historical arguments surrounding the Gun Control Act and the National Firearms Act, but there’s difficulty without spending some very serious time or buying articles. Dave Hardy is also probably more of an expert on this than I am, given he’s done quite a bit of this kind of research. Generally speaking, I’d want to rely on period accounts rather than modern accounts. Examination of the Congressional Record would also be important. My concern is that there’s a lot of bullshit in this issue, and plenty of people willing to twist the truth to help fit their preferred narrative.

Some of what I’ve found has been surprising. For instance, while it would seem too good to be true that the Gun Control Act was modeled after Nazi gun control laws, as best I can tell this is at least partially true, in that Senator Dodd, who was the act’s architect, did have the 1938 German law translated to English, and some aspects of the German law made it into GCA ’68.

Another legend was that the manufacturers were complicit in the Gun Control Act’s passage. I can find no direct evidence of the manufacturers supporting the Gun Control Act in contemporary press accounts of the time, though there are news accounts speculating on it. You also find accounts of other manufacturers howling about the new restrictions. While it’s true that three major gun manufacturers were located in Connecticut, the anti-gun New England states have never paid much heed to their interests, so it’s not very hard for me to believe they didn’t give much of a crap back then either.

Was NRA complicit in GCA? Most of what I’ve found from news accounts at the time would appear to refute that. There was even a nefarious gun lobby that controlled Congress in 1968. One story speaks of Dodd denying that he directed the FBI to investigate NRA for lobbying activity. If NRA was complicit, I doubt this would be a story. I doubt you’d see news accounts like this either.

I’ve found some modern accounts that suggest the NRA had a hand in drafting the legislation. I would certainly hope so. If you know you’re going to get something shoved down your throat, and you don’t have the votes to stop it, only a foolish organization would reject an opportunity to clean up language and prevent legislators from inadvertently doing something really stupid. I’ve also found modern accounts that suggest NRA supported it at first, but under pressure from membership, reversed course and began to oppose GCA ’68. Pretty much everyone seems to agree that NRA’s opposition to GCA was disorganized and half-hearted. After the GCA it was also certainly true that a faction of NRA leadership wished to get out of politics and move to Colorado Springs, to permanently remove itself from the debate in DC. I would not expect that kind of internal squabbling to show up in the newspapers, but we certainly have those arguments today, so I don’t see why we wouldn’t have been having them in 1968 too. By 1977, the faction of NRA that represented political engagement had won the battle, though internal quibbles continued until fairly recently.

I would like to see an account of NFA and GCA, using primary sources, much like Dave Hardy did with the Firearms Owners Protection Act. Most of what’s worked its way into the modern accounts of both NFA and GCA have been twisted to suit the ends of modern narratives.

Another example is the National Firearms Act. It is not quite true that NRA supported the NFA. It is true, however, that they had a hand in drafting the machine gun provisions. Originally NFA was modeled after the Uniforms Firearms Act, which was model legislation introduced in the 1930s and taken up by a number of state, including Pennsylvania. That’s where we got the name for our modern gun control statutes that have evolved greatly, both for better and worse, since. But it was also more thoroughly adopted by Washington D.C. which shows in their their whacky definition of a machine gun:

(10) “Machine gun” means any firearm which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily converted or restored to shoot: (A) Automatically, more than 1 shot by a single function of the trigger; (B) Semiautomatically, more than 12 shots without manual reloading.

This was cribbed straight out of the UFA model legislation, and was also the language initially adopted for the National Firearms Act. The original NFA also covered handguns under the same $5 transfer tax as any other weapon. It was due to NRA and the United States Revolver Association (the President of the former was Vice President of the latter) that the handgun provisions were removed, and the law altered to only cover automatic weapons.

Did NRA, in 1934, throw machine guns under the bus? Yes. But largely to save handguns and semi-automatic rifles. The same thing played out later in the century. I would argue that culturally, we’re probably in better shape in this issue than we have been since the beginning of the 20th century. Most of that period, from 1934 to 1968, were nothing but slowing the rate of loss. We gained back a lot of ground in 1986, but also did lose some with the Hughes Amendment. We had two serious setbacks in the 90s, and a few minor ones, but since then it’s been nothing but improvement. We have to keep driving the cultural change, because that’s what drives political change in the long run. It’s not a quick process, but it wasn’t for our opponents either. It takes relentlessness, and you can’t count on the leaders in this issue to do everything for you. Ultimately the power of NRA, or really any other gun rights organization, comes from the people who get behind it.

49 Responses to “Were NRA & Manufacturers Complicit in the Gun Control Act of 1968?”

  1. counsel says:

    Any firearm that can shoot semi-automatically more than 12 shots without manually reloading? Is there no “and” between A and B under the definition of machinegun? Now I have to go look this up ;)

  2. John Doe says:

    Karl T. Frederick had a hand in lobbying for the enactment of the Uniform Firearms Act in the ’20s.

  3. A Critic says:

    “I’ve found some modern accounts that suggest the NRA had a hand in drafting the legislation. I would certainly hope so. If you know you’re going to get something shoved down your throat, and you don’t have the votes to stop it, only a foolish organization would reject an opportunity to clean up language and prevent legislators from inadvertently doing something really stupid.”

    Those who sanction their own victimization and who throw innocent men to the wolves deserve to be ridiculed and despised for their heinous complicity in establishing the evil rule of tyranny over the land.

  4. A Critic says:

    “Did NRA, in 1934, throw machine guns under the bus? Yes.”

    It was actually machine gun owners, makers, and sellers that they threw under the bus, or more accurately, into prison.

  5. Dave Y says:

    ” Ultimately the power of NRA, or really any other gun rights organization, comes from the people who get behind it.”

    As Mom used to say – ‘Truer words were never spoken’.

    Ironically, we preach to our community to rely on yourself for your protection and the protection of your family, but far, far too many of our community are all too willing to trust the defense of their RIGHTS to someone else.

    Sometimes you are better served not by getting behind a group, but rather getting in front of it.

  6. Sebastian says:

    So what do you do, Critic? If legislators are intent on passing something, and you have no power to stop it, do you sit back and just stomp your feet? Or do you try to make the bill suck less badly? If you answer the former, if people had listened to you in 1994, we’d still have an Assault Weapons Ban, because there never would have been a sunset.

    There are some times when it’s better to execute and orderly retreat, rather than allow your lines to fall into disarray, and turn a retreat into a rout.

  7. chris says:

    “Those who sanction their own victimization and who throw innocent men to the wolves deserve to be ridiculed and despised for their heinous complicity in establishing the evil rule of tyranny over the land.”

    So when you have lost a battle and you know that nothing you can do will let you win it, you would just then walk away rather than try to minimize the losses?

  8. Matthew Carberry says:

    A Critic,

    Better to “die on your feet than live on your knees” huh?

    Bravo sir, if everyone who agreed with us had the courage of your convictions back in ’34 and ’68 we’d have… well… no gun rights left today.

    In the real world, if victory in a particular battle is not an option due to being hopelessly outnumbered, you try to at least shape the defeat to minimize your losses and enable a counterattack later in the campaign. A “Long March” will usually beat a “Death Ride”.

    The other side infringed our rights by winning the culture war, in the case of the NFA in large part by exploiting the public fear and anger over organized crime’s use of uncommon (in private hands) weapons. They did that over and over again, using public ignorance and outrage (in ’68 over the MLK and Kennedy(s) assassinations) to erode as much of our firearms freedom as they could get away with due to us not having the numbers to simply stop them legislatively.

    We have only recently gotten public sentiment and the Congressional votes to the point where we can start drawing lines in the sand and really push back against these BS “reasonable regulations”.

    Given the momentum we have going, it looks like we survived the Alamo of the ’80s/’90s and are now moving on San Jacinto. I’d rather win smart, albeit slowly, than lose stupidly at this point.

  9. Tom says:

    I can’t stand the NRA backers with their “we were losing the battle, what were we to do” rationale in regard to the NRA’s negligence in defeating ALL of the major gun control laws in American history. They failed in their job protecting gun owners from a tyrannical government. The NRA is a two-faced money-making organization that feeds off of the simple minded “patriots” that send in their check every year.

  10. Matthew Carberry says:

    “Their job”?

    It’s -our- job as individuals to protect our rights by making our voices heard, you can’t delegate that. Unfortunately that’s why we lose, because there simply aren’t enough of us actually doing anything to sway public opinion to increase the numbers of individuals who care about gun rights to a point where it can accomplish anything decisive legislatively.

    So we are left with organizations like the NRA, that actually have lobbyists and work with the system as it is rather than just running their mouths arrogantly yet ineffectually about how “ideologically pure” they are, to exert pressure on our behalf, to the largest degree that is actually possible given reality, to accomplish anything positive for gun rights in the legislative arena.

    Are they perfect? No.

    But it’s easier to deny the numbers and blame the folks actually doing something (something other than taking high-minded positions and then bitching when things don’t magically come out the way they want) than to put some skin in the game and work within the real world of politics as it is.

  11. chris says:

    Tom… The real beauty of the NRA is that it is an open organization that has an elected board… You dont like something they do, then man up with a better plan and run for the board.

    Or you could stand back, bitch and moan and not do anything to help.

  12. Sebastian says:

    NRA’s negligence in defeating ALL of the major gun control laws in American history.

    Do you get pissed at cops for failing to prevent all crime? That kind of record is impossible. It’s like being mad at a basketball player for not being able to leap a tall building in a single bound.

  13. Tom says:

    @Matthew Carberry
    “So we are left with organizations like the NRA, that actually have lobbyists and work with the system as it is rather than just running their mouths”

    So you’re telling me that they are getting paid to lobby on the behalf of gun-owners….sounds like a “job” to me. One that they are failing to do.

    @chris
    “man up with a better plan and run for the board.”

    Or, refuse to acknowledge them as an efficient and effective organization at all, and NOT give them any of my money instead of backing their empty promises.

    @Sebastian
    “Do you get pissed at cops for failing to prevent all crime?”

    No, but I do get “pissed” at them when they assist the criminals when they commit crime.

    “It’s like being mad at a basketball player for not being able to leap a tall building in a single bound.”

    No…it’s more like said basketball player getting paid to play, and not jumping at all.

    Listen, I can tell by your responses that you are all tried and true NRA supporters…great, keep on paying them for their crappy magazines and junk mail asking for even MORE money. Maybe it’s time you all rethink what the NRA is ACTUALLY doing with that money you’re dishing out instead of just blindly backing their every move.

  14. Matthew Carberry says:

    Tom,

    In all seriousness. What do you propose we do?

    Just sit back self-righteously and let all our gains slip away?

    Welcome to Great Britain II in a couple decades.

    SAF can’t do it judicially on their own. If the anti-gun crowd was smart they could craft more GFSZA-type crap that might pass Commerce Clause muster. Or delay effective implementation to the point we lose a jurist and thus effectively lose Heller and McDonald. We have to back up Court wins with solid legislation, and that means lobbying.

    That being the case in the really real world we adults all live in, either come up with an alternative or name a gun rights organization that actually has legislative weight and credibility on the Hill besides NRA.

    If you can’t, you might consider toning down the rhetoric.

    (hint: GOA doesn’t count, their only power is in their own minds, they’ve got zero wins on the board)

  15. Stranger says:

    I was there in ’68, and fought CGA ’68 until its final passage on September 12, 1968. It was not a matter of the NRA being complicit, it was a matter of the NRA of that time being utterly unsuited for the sort of fight we suddenly found ourselves in.

    At the time the NRA was a primarily a ready reserve/national guard organization. Police officers with no military connections had just been allowed to join, grudgingly. Many of the NRA officers and directors thought the organization had no business at all “doing politics.” The result was utter confusion at NRA HQ.

    Eventually, the pro 2A faction prevailed, but most of the heavy lifting was done by the people who caught their Senators and Representative on their August break, shook hands, and talked sense.

    By the 1970 elections the NRA was well up to speed on the program. But 1968 was hairy, to say the least.

    Stranger

  16. Tom says:

    Matthew,

    The SAF won Heller with absolutely zero help from the NRA. Not only was the NRA silent during the Heller case, I remember reading a cautionary article in The Firing Line (CPRA publication which is one of the many ass-puppets of the NRA) railing against Heller for one reason or another (please don’t ask me to reference the actual article, I don’t remember). As for McDonald, the NRA decided to jump in half-mast and grab some the the potential glory away from the SAF at the last minute. Gee thanks. My point is that all of these “gains” that you are referring to were made not by the NRA. Without them, the “gains” would still be there.

    In any case, the SAF is our best bet. If the monetary support swapped from the NRA to the SAF, then all of the so-called lobbying would be replaced with real world litigation.

    And if you don’t mind, what “rhetoric” are you referring to?

  17. Sebastian says:

    Thanks, Stranger. That fits a lot of other things I’ve read as well.

  18. Sebastian says:

    You’re willing to put the entirety of our guns rights in the hands of the courts? To be sure, it’s a big part of the strategy now, and SAF has done great work in that field, but it’s not the whole picture, and shouldn’t be.

  19. Tom says:

    @Sebastian

    We still need lobbying, but we NEED to take that power away from the NRA. They are a for-profit business that will alter their lobbying in response to where the money is.

  20. Matthew Carberry says:

    Ted,

    The “rhetoric” is patent nonsense like “in regard to the NRA’s negligence in defeating ALL of the major gun control laws in American history. They failed in their job protecting gun owners from a tyrannical government”.

    First, it’s not their job, second, the statement isn’t true.

    As far as SAF goes, did you miss this?

    “SAF can’t do it judicially on their own. If the anti-gun crowd was smart they could craft more GFSZA-type crap that might pass Commerce Clause muster. Or delay effective implementation to the point we lose a jurist and thus effectively lose Heller and McDonald. We have to back up Court wins with solid legislation, and that means lobbying.”

    You will not find either of the Alan’s, nor Gene nor any of the other litigator’s for gun rights supporting your “only support SAF et al” viewpoint. It again fails to recognize how things work in the real world.

    The Court cases can only establish the limits of how much gun control, and there will be some, will be upheld even given an ultimately friendly SCOTUS. If SCOTUS changes hands all bets are off.

    To cement those court gains we have to have good legislation that uses the court cases as a minimum starting point to maximize gun rights. That takes lobbying and you have yet to come up with an alternative to the NRA for that on the national scene.

    I am on record here as thinking NRA tends to be a little too grabby for credit, particularly on the court cases, and that they often don’t mix well with other folks when they think they are “right”. But that doesn’t outweigh the simple fact that they are a huge net positive in their realm, which is legislative lobbying.

  21. Miguel says:

    “The SAF won Heller with absolutely zero help from the NRA. Not only was the NRA silent during the Heller case”

    Quotes like this are infantile. This is like saying that the owner of a football team, who put his money behind getting a franchise, building a stadium, selecting a management and coaching team, getting monies for player’s salaries, spending boatloads of money on advertising to create a fan base, has no business in sharing the victory if the team wins the Superbowl. The SAF won Heller (Besides their own deserved and well done effort) because there was an NRA getting the stage prepared for a favorable decision. If instead of Pres. Bush & a friendly congress, we had Pres. Gore and an unfriendly congress we would not have Alito & Roberts in SCOTUS and Heller would just be wishful thinking.

    As for those who demand “All or Nothing” one can tell you never lost all and never got it back. If you are hemorrhaging, the best solution would be to have a full surgical team intervene and leave you as new. However if such team s not available or possible, a tourniquet is a damn good option because the alternative is death which solves nothing.

  22. Tom says:

    @Matthew

    You’re right, that statement does lean on the rhetorical side. Once again, the lobbying portion of this fight needs to be taken away from the NRA. They are not the right organization for this. They are a business that will lobby who they what … for who will pay them the most, and then swing their lobbying in any direction they want to by spewing out their “wins” via their own publications. They cannot and should not be trusted to support the gun-rights argument.

    @Sebastian

    In regard to this article, I think the most damning piece of information supporting the fact that the NRA was indeed complicit in the passing of not only the GCA, but also the NFA was their own word in the March 1968 issue of American Rifleman. Were you able to research this?

  23. Sebastian says:

    I am aware of the article, and many of those things amount to knowing you’re going to get pushed back 2 miles, and trying instead to only get pushed back 1 mile.

    I do not argue NRA’s opposition to the Gun Control Act was a great strategy, because I think they made a number of mistakes. But the notion that they just completely rolled over on GCA seems to be unfounded.

  24. Tom says:

    So when Franklin Orth (Vice President of NRA in 1968) testified to congress about the mail-order portion of the GCA and said that

    “[NRA does] not think that any sane American, who calls himself an American, can object to placing into this bill the instrument which killed the president of the United States,”

    could be considered “rolling over”?

  25. Matthew Carberry says:

    Tom,

    I apologize for my stridency and any insult.

    Lobbying takes money and numbers to work. That there just isn’t anyone else out there is the problem.

    The “next” place rights group (I think its GOA) is tiny both in membership and funding and chooses to frame its positions in ways that just don’t play politically anyway.

    Like it or not the NRA has the 4 million membership on the books to make legislators sit up and take notice. Decreasing that membership, without replacing it immediately with something equally effective, is shooting ourselves in the foot.

    Among the changes I’d like to see is maybe a bit more public separation between NRA (training, education and events) and NRA-ILA (political wing) and have both run a little less stridently on the junk mail fundraising side.

    I’m in sales and I know some pretty shady/imbecilic marketing techniques actually work, but they aren’t dignified and, for me at least, I find them intellectually insulting and annoying.

  26. Sebastian says:

    Orth was a fool and a poor lobbyist, but other concessions have needed to be made, such as accepting instant background checks to avoid waiting periods. You don’t always have a choice between winning and losing. Sometimes the choice is between losing and losing big. After a President gets whacked with a mail ordered Caracno, it may be necessary to concede that, in order to prevent something far worse.

    Would we have been better off if NRA conceded nothing? I don’t know, but judging the mood of the time, I’d suggest that something was going to pass, regardless of NRA’s objections. I mean, you had a President from Texas pushing gun control hard. Can you even imagine that today?

  27. Tom says:

    It was a different time for sure, could you imagine today a Democratic President with a lifetime NRA membership as was Mr. Kennedy? Probably not.

    The fact that the NRA at that time had some major political alliances (like the former deceased president) tells me that they not only rolled over for some of their political buddies, but rolled over and begged for insertion. I would suggest, without any type of proof, that the NRA leadership of the time thought about rejecting the GCA, but chose not too in order to help out some of their friends in high places. They didn’t think that their membership was savvy enough to figure out their ploy until after the fact. They screwed their members and never looked back.

    I would also suggest that they are still doing this today, as the only news we have of their “wins” vs “losses” are from them. How do we know who they are padding in Washington? We don’t. There are very few politicians that actually admit being in the NRA…where does all of that money go?

  28. ecurb says:

    My feelings about the NRA have always been somewhat ambivalent, but this post and discussion has finally convinced me to become a member.

    Miguel made an especially good point about the groundwork for the Heller decision, by the way.

    Now I need to decide what KIND of membership. Can anyone make a suggestion?

    • Bitter says:

      Personally, I’m glad I went with the Life membership. It’s over and done with for the rest of my life. Being a poor non-profit worker, I went with the easy pay plan of $25/quarter. I find that if I have disagreements with the organization, I’m taken more seriously as a life member because it shows that I care about the issue and the organization enough to want to see them do things the right way.

      However, the annual membership is where most people (including me) start, and it’s super easy. If you use this link from Dave Hardy, you get $10 off so it’s only $25.

      P.S. If you think you get too much mail from them (some people say they do, most people I’ve talked to don’t have complaints about it), feel free to call the membership number on the back of the card they send you and opt out of the mailings. They also now have the option for digital magazine subscriptions which is highly appreciated for those of us who don’t really read paper anymore.

  29. ecurb says:

    Thanks: discounts like that are very helpful for starving students!

  30. Everyone saying “NRA betrayed us with GCA 68” should read up on the “The Revolt at Cincinnatti”. The NRA of 1934 and 1968 is different than the NRA of today.

  31. Sebastian says:

    Everyone saying “NRA betrayed us with GCA 68″ should read up on the “The Revolt at Cincinnatti”. The NRA of 1934 and 1968 is different than the NRA of today.

    That is certainly true. But I think it also appears to be true that even the past NRA were not the steadfast supporters of gun control that some have made them out to be. The picture I see of the pre-Cincinnatti NRA is one that is more a shooting organization, that does not understand the political game well, and trying to pass itself off as reasonable. I think this is partly why they got eaten alive in 1934 and 1968, but I also think their opposition to the most extreme aspects of the Gun Control Act and NFA saved us. If NFA had covered pistols, and if licensing and registration had made its way into the gun control act, as many wanted to do, we’d be pretty much finished today.

  32. A Critic says:

    “So what do you do, Critic? If legislators are intent on passing something, and you have no power to stop it, do you sit back and just stomp your feet? Or do you try to make the bill suck less badly? If you answer the former, if people had listened to you in 1994, we’d still have an Assault Weapons Ban, because there never would have been a sunset.”

    They could have and should have fought in the courts. If that failed they should have refused to recognize such a blatantly unconstitutional dictate.

    “There are some times when it’s better to execute and orderly retreat, rather than allow your lines to fall into disarray, and turn a retreat into a rout.”

    Yep, but there is never a time when you should give the barbarians the key to the city and pray they don’t massacre and rape everyone. They usually do. The federal government most surely has had it’s way with the American people, thanks in very large part because the American people, via their lobbyist organization, lobby to be taken advantage of.

  33. A Critic says:

    “So when you have lost a battle and you know that nothing you can do will let you win it, you would just then walk away rather than try to minimize the losses?”

    The 1930s were the ideal time for the third American revolution.

  34. ecurb says:

    Yes, Critic, unleashing all that built-up class and racial tension would have clearly created a superior society based on, um… the same kind of rage and resentment that drove the Soviet Revolution…
    Probably for the best that didn’t happen, don’t you think?

    And do you remember the courts of the time? The courts that upheld forced sterilization of those declared “mentally defective” by the state?

  35. A Critic says:

    “Bravo sir, if everyone who agreed with us had the courage of your convictions back in ’34 and ’68 we’d have… well… no gun rights left today.”

    The government can’t take away gun rights as it didn’t give them to start with.

    This country was begun when the British tried to implement gun control. If this attitude of servitude had won public opinion at that time we’d still be British citizens.

    “The other side infringed our rights by winning the culture war, in the case of the NFA in large part by exploiting the public fear and anger over organized crime’s use of uncommon (in private hands) weapons. ”

    That fear and anger was artificial, created by the government and it’s willing tool the media. The NFA wasn’t even passed until Prohibition and it’s consequence of crime was over. The real reason why the NFA passed is that those who knew it was wrong either helped it pass or they did nothing.

    As a result how many people have spent how many years in prison? How many have lost their homes, jobs, families, and so much more? How many other anti-gun dictates were enacted subsequent to the NFA? How many other anti-liberty dictates? What is the true cost of cooperating with those who wish to enslave you? An incalculable sum of life, liberty, and property – but the total while immeasurable is surely too much to pay for a few remaining liberties for anyone who isn’t willing to trade away the rights of others for their own convenience.

  36. They could have and should have fought in the courts. If that failed they should have refused to recognize such a blatantly unconstitutional dictate.

    It was fought in the courts. See Navegar v. United States and San Diego Gun Rights Committee v. Reno

    People who ignore law are put in prison. It’s that simple.

    Also, fighting a 2A case over assault weapons at that time (1994 to 2004) was suicidal.

    See Silveira: Second Amendment Suicide

  37. A Critic says:

    “Yes, Critic, unleashing all that built-up class and racial tension would have clearly created a superior society based on, um… the same kind of rage and resentment that drove the Soviet Revolution…
    Probably for the best that didn’t happen, don’t you think?”

    Impossible to say without a crystal ball, but I reckon the country likely would have divided.

    “And do you remember the courts of the time? The courts that upheld forced sterilization of those declared “mentally defective” by the state?”

    Ayuh. I also recall that when the NFA was brought to the Supreme Court in United States v. Miller there was no defense. Had there been an amicus brief filed by the NRA or anyone it may not have changed anything, or it may have changed a key word or sentence with tremendous impact.

    And the court approval of eugenics would further evidence my argument that taking up arms would have been moral, legal, and practical at that time.

  38. A Critic says:

    “People who ignore law are put in prison. It’s that simple.”

    Washington, Jefferson, and many others were not put in prison.

  39. Hank Archer says:

    The fact that there was no one representing gun rights in the “Miller” case shows that the NRA really wasn’t ready for the changes in the legal, cultural & political climate that occurred between the World Wars.

  40. Diomed says:

    “The original NFA also covered handguns under the same $5 transfer tax as any other weapon. ”

    This is incorrect. The transfer tax of all firearms covered by the Act was $200 in 1934. AOWs were not reduced until 1945 as far as I can tell (they were found to have “legitimate purpose” and the tax was reduced to $1, albeit far too late to save the AOW industry).

    I would love to see scholarly articles on the actual history of the 1934 Act – as well as the Federal Firearms Act, the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act, and the good old GCA.

  41. Kevin says:

    “I would love to see scholarly articles on the actual history of the 1934 Act – as well as the Federal Firearms Act, the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act, and the good old GCA.”

    David Hardy suggest http://www.saf.org/LawReviews/Zimring68.htm

    For the NFA see http://www.nfaoa.org/resources.html and http://www.keepandbeararms.com/NRA/NFA.htm

    I’m sure there are others, but those are the ones I have poked around in.

  42. chris says:

    So, Tom, A Critic…

    Have you manned up and run for the board to change the direction of the NRA yet?

  43. Rob Reed says:

    I posted this over at “A View From North Central Idaho” as a comment and thought I’d post it here as well:

    Wednesday, August 24, 2011 7:35:48 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
    There is a good discussion of the 1968 GCA and the firearms industry’s involvement in the book “Deadly Business: Sam Cummings, Interarms and the Arms Trade” by Patrick Brogran and Albert Zarca.

    The author’s discuss how SAAMI (not the NRA) lobbied for the provisions to ban import of mil surp weapons in order to protect the American firearms manufactuers. It makes sense, in a way. Who would buy a $100 Winchester Model 70 when $20 Mausers were available.

    The book is out of print, but I found a copy through Amazon. It’s worth a read for this and many other reasons.

  44. Ian Argent says:

    In some ways, holding the NRA of 2011 responsible for the issue of GCA’68 is like holding the USN of the mid-eighties expansible for Pearl Harbor…

  45. Sebastian says:

    I’d heard about the SAAMI connection, but I couldn’t find any accounts of their support of GCA in news accounts at the time.

  46. terraformer says:

    There may not be primary sources supporting the assertion that the US based OEMs supported GCA ’68 but they sure as hell benefitted handsomely from the deal. Also, there was no rationale for restricting imports from a Gun Control aspect other than to test the waters for a domestic ban (which came in ’86 and again in ’94). So why wasn’t the import ban negotiated away? US based OEM support for it answers that question very well.

  47. Jeff Knox says:

    For a good overview 1966 – 2000, may I suggest you pick up a copy of “Neal Knox – The Gun Rights War” (www.NealKnox.com). Dad was very involved in the fight both as a reporter and a lobbyist and his articles from the time are enlightening. There was not nearly as much emphasis on fundamental philosophy back in ’68 as there is today and there was a whole lot more of the same sort of mentality that you see from clubs that ban the shooting of “humanoid” targets, the wearing of camouflage clothing, or the shooting of anything “rapid-fire” (heaven forbid full-auto), or the Oklahoma Rifle Association board that came out in opposition to an open carry bill last session because open carry might make people uncomfortable. Over the years there have been many leaders of NRA and the industry who have exhibited such attitudes.
    As to NRA, they have made mistakes. They have on several occasions caved or cooperated long before political pragmatism would have suggested, and they don’t play well with others who they should consider compatriots rather than competitors. But, NRA is the Big Dog in the fight and love them or hate them, they are who the politicians listen to. No amount of bitching on the internet is going to change that. Everyone who cares about gun rights should be a member of NRA – preferably a Life Member. Once you’re a member, kick them in the shins to take stronger positions and withhold any additional contributions until they do so. Vote in Director Elections and lobby those Directors to push the organization toward a harder line – and replace them if they don’t do what you want them to do. At this point most of those efforts will be futile, but another Cincinnati Revolt is not completely impossible – though not quite like Cincinnati since they’ve changed the bylaws to take such power away from the members – and eventually a large, noisy contingent of the membership demanding better of the NRA will result in a better organization.
    Jeff Knox – http://www.FirearmsCoalition.org

  48. Stretch says:

    I would caution against using the Congressional Record as a research tool. Members of Congress have “editorial privilege” and may “clarify” their statements before publication. And if the congresscritter has enough clout they can have revision placed in printed copies.
    Access to C-SPAN tapes has fluctuated between “Sure! It’s public record.” to “Who the hell do you think you are?” Mostly it seems to depend on
    A) The clout (and sobriety level) of the member recorded.
    B) The volatility of the issue.
    C) Whether there is a D or an R behind the member’s name.

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