Extranos Alley looks at the battle over the Gun Control Act in 1968. Here, Franklin Orth, NRA President at the time, speaks out against it. One of the best articles I think that can be found on GCA ’68 resides here:
The shift, by the leadership of the National Rifle Association (NRA), from cautious support for the original Dodd Bill to modest opposition of Senate Bill 1592 foreshadowed the most significant and lasting change in the dynamics of gun control policy to occur in the twentieth century. The NRA and firearms [Page 81] manufacturers had supported Dodd’s original bill and the subsequent addition of interstate controls on long guns. Although the official organ of the NRA,Â The American Rifleman,Â indicated otherwise, the NRA leadership displayed some willingness to compromise with Dodd as late as 1965. Negative response by the membership precipitated a subsequent reversal of direction by the NRA leadership. This uprising by a significant portion of the NRA membership owed much to the development of a specialized gun press that catered to the most avid of gun enthusiasts. The editorial staffs of magazines such asÂ Guns, Guns and Ammo, andÂ Gun WeekÂ inalterably opposed gun control in any form and benefited from heightened interest in gun issues. By 1965, the leadership and membership of the NRA divided along a fault line separating those tolerant of moderate increases in gun control from those opposed to any significant change in the law. Although the NRA leadership responded to this internal pressure with increased opposition to new legislation, their policy shift failed to satisfy a powerful segment within the membership. This internal dissatisfaction within the NRA provided the impetus for a 1977 coup by the libertarian faction within the organization and the ouster of the more moderate old guard. Although the relations between Chairman Dodd and the NRA witnesses remained marginally cordial during the 1965 hearings, the atmosphere had begun to chill. Any hope of compromise between advocates of stricter gun control and the NRA ended after 1965.
My understanding is that a big portion of what drove the 1977 Cincinnati Revolt was the fact that NRA leadership was planning to move NRA Headquarters from Rhode Island Avenue in Washington DC to Colorado Springs, not far from a new deluxe shooting facility that would later become The Whittington Center, where it would get out of politics and focus mostly on sports, recreation and conservation. Maxwell Rich was NRA’s Executive VP at the time (Wayne’s job now), and I’ve always been amazed our opponents never made him an honorary Brady Campaign Board Member. If he had succeeded, they probably would have won.