The National Rifle Association (NRA) was founded in 1871 to defend the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees the right to keep and bear arms. In the 21st century, the NRA is a controversial organization, with supporters believing it protects citizens by defending their guns, and detractors claiming it makes the country more dangerous by encouraging weapon proliferation.
The NRA lobbies Congress in an effort to maintain the right in the United States to gun ownership. This includes rifles and shotguns for hunting, sport, and self-defense, and handguns for sport and personal protection. In a country where a large number of criminals are armed, denying a citizen the right to gun ownership makes him vulnerable, a proponent could argue. Some argue criminals will retain their weapons whether they are legal or not. The Second Amendment to the Constitution guarantees "the right to keep and bear arms," and this right cannot be legally infringed without further amendment to the Constitution.
Guns are a major cause of death through murder, suicide, and accident. The NRA makes this problem worse, detractors argue, by hampering the efforts of gun control organizations. School shootings such as at Virginia Tech in April 2007 that left 33 people dead would not have happened without the use of firearms, some argue. Many murders and suicides are the result of rash and momentary decisions that would not have resulted in death if the individuals involved had not had access to guns. Strict gun control protects everyone by reducing the number of guns in society, and this makes an individual more secure than simply owning another gun.
Feasible arguments both for and against the NRA can be made, and which side a person chooses to believe depends as much on that person's background, social circle, and personal inclinations as it does on the content of the arguments. Overall statistics show fewer guns lead to fewer gun deaths, but many individual instances can be shown in which individuals successfully defended themselves against aggression or crime by using firearms.
- boy with rifle image by Joyce Wilkes from Fotolia.com