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An ‘Unauthorized History’ Of The NRA

The logo of the National Rifle Association is seen at an outdoor sports trade show in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
The logo of the National Rifle Association is seen at an outdoor sports trade show in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Despite a worldwide pandemic, America’s oldest civil rights organization is far from idle. The National Rifle Association is suing Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom after the state deemed firearm shops non-essential for the duration of a statewide “stay at home” order issued in response to coronavirus.

It’s the latest move in the NRA’s decades-long political activism. In his new book, “The NRA: An Unauthorized History,” Journalist Frank Smyth details a 1977 NRA annual meeting where two anti-gun control activists gamed several votes to change the organization’s leadership and take it in a new direction. Ultimately this led the NRA toward becoming the hyper-partisan group America knows today.

However, even before the coronavirus pandemic spread and crippled businesses across the country, the NRA had fallen on hard times. The organization’s streaming service, NRATV, shut down in 2019 amid an “organizational crisis .” Now, the group is considering slashing salaries and laying off new staff in the age of COVID-19.

What does the NRA’s past tell us about where it’s headed? And what does coronavirus mean for the future of gun sales and the NRA?

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