Working Together to Save the Second Amendment: Part 1


We The People
We The People

Fairfax, VA – -( Promoting the defense of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms of NRA’s more than 5 million members, as well as tens of millions more law-abiding gun owners and Second Amendment supporters, is a distinct privilege I cherish every day.

The most amazing thing I’ve witnessed in my more than two decades at NRA is what we can accomplish when we work together. It’s sometimes difficult to remember pro-gun wins due to the 24 hour media coverage directed at the smallest movement on anti-gun measures, but, make no mistake, NRA members and gun owners have accomplished simply incredible political and legal victories.

This isn’t to say that we don’t face significant challenges as we work to protect and expand our firearms freedom. We are faced with a near endless stream of anti-gun money from Michael Bloomberg and other billionaires, extremist politicians in favor of whatever gun control measures they can achieve, and a mainstream media who are all too happy to support the gun ban agenda.

But it’s important to remember our successes and reflect on how we’ve achieved so much despite the odds being stacked against us. In this first of three parts, I’m going to focus on NRA members’ federal legislative victories.

Even before the NRA-ILA was established as the lobbying arm of NRA, our members showed an ability to influence the legislative process at the federal level. In 1934, the National Firearms Act (NFA) was enacted, which established the stringent regulation of certain firearms and accessories. At first, lawmakers even wanted to include handguns in the NFA. After NRA members began expressing their objections to Congress, however, handguns were removed from the legislation that established the NFA.

Imagine if handguns were as difficult to lawfully acquire today as NFA items. Without average law-abiding Americans having ready access to the most convenient firearm for self-defense, we never would have experienced the right-to-carry movement of the 1980’s, 1990’s and early 2000’s.

After the NFA, Congress moved on to a more comprehensive regulatory regime that would encompass all firearms. This effort culminated in the 1968 Gun Control Act (GCA), a hastily enacted law that sorely lacked logic and clear definitions.

By the mid-1970s, it was clear that law-abiding gun owners needed an advocate that could lobby Congress and push back against the rising tide of anti-gun extremism. In 1975 NRA-ILA was established, and the political clout of NRA and its members began to grow exponentially.

Federal legislative campaigns often move at a glacial pace, and while NRA-ILA had set its sights on dramatically reforming the problematic GCA in the late 1970s, the efforts finally paid off in 1986 with the passage of the McClure-Volkmer Firearm Owners Protection Act.

FOPA, as the law is frequently called, corrected many failings of the GCA, including:

  • Protecting law-abiding citizens from prosecution for transporting firearms across jurisdictional lines
  • Reinstating the lawful interstate sale of rifles and shotguns
  • Eliminating pointless record-keeping of ammunition sales
  • Imposing mandatory prison sentences on those convicted of using a firearm in the commission of a violent federal felony
  • Ending potential for harassment, abuse and wrongful prosecution of law-abiding gun owners
  • Prohibiting the government from instituting any gun-registration scheme

The significance of the passage of FOPA really cannot be overstated. There were so many problems with the GCA that needed to be addressed, and most had to do with it being so poorly drafted and confusing that it led to countless otherwise law-abiding citizens running afoul of the law. Even the federal agency tasked with enforcing the law, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), didn’t appear to understand it, as different offices gave different answers to the same questions about how it impacted gun owners.

Civil rights attorney David Hardy may have summed up FOPA best, when he commented, “In my life, I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a statute that overturned more Supreme Court and lower court cases than this one did.”

Of course, our battles didn’t stop with the passage of FOPA. Organizations that supported banning firearms, like Handgun Control, Inc. (now simply called Brady), continued their aggressive campaign of misleading lawmakers and the general public, often with help from anti-gun members of the media. Fortunately, NRA members were there to fight back.

When gun controllers created the term “Saturday Night Special” to aid in their effort to ban inexpensive handguns, we pointed out that such a law would dramatically reduce the ability of low-income citizens to defend themselves and their loved ones.

Gun-ban advocates then set their sights on advancements in firearm technology; firearms that incorporated polymers in their construction that helped protect these guns against the elements. These so-called “plastic guns,” the antis claimed, could sneak past airport screening devices. NRA destroyed this myth, proving that all handguns, regardless of their composition at the time, were easily detected.

In response to claims that new “armor piercing ammunition” could penetrate police body armor, the gun-ban movement turned to proposing a ban on any ammunition capable of penetrating body armor. Had they succeeded, all centerfire rifle ammunition would have been banned. NRA stepped up, once again, with an education campaign for legislators and the general public, and performance-based ammunition bans have been repeatedly defeated at the federal level.

Support for banning handguns has greatly diminished since NRA began educating the general public about the Second Amendment and the lawful use of handguns for personal protection in the 1970s. In 1959, Gallup found support for banning handguns at 60%. In 2018, they found support for a handgun ban had dropped to 28%, with 71% opposed. In light of this reality, the gun-ban movement has turned to banning other firearms.

Attacks on semi-automatic firearms, falsely dubbed “assault weapons,” began in the late 1980s and culminated with the 1994 Clinton Gun Ban. By labeling these firearms “assault weapons,” anti-gun activists and the media were able to dupe many in the general public to believing the ban would outlaw fully-automatic firearms. Josh Sugarmann, the founder of the radically anti-gun Violence Policy Center, admitted as much, when he stated:

“The weapons’ menacing looks, coupled with the public’s confusion over fully-automatic machine guns versus semiautomatic assault weapons—anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun—can only increase that chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons.”

Of course, fully-automatic firearms were already highly regulated by the NFA, and such guns are virtually never used to commit violent crimes. Similarly, the so-called “assault weapons,” with the most common examples shown being semi-automatic AR-15 and AK-type rifles, are also rarely used to commit violent crimes.

The ban simply targeted cosmetic features in order to garner support from a general public unfamiliar with how firearms operate. With overwhelming support of this deception campaign from most media outlets, this strategy worked, albeit for a short time. Fortunately, NRA was able to ensure it had a sunset provision, so the ban would expire after 10 years unless Congress reauthorized it.

NRA-ILA's Chris W. Cox
NRA-ILA's Chris W. Cox

Congress, of course, did not reauthorize the ban. After passage of the Clinton Gun Ban, the 1994 elections saw Democrats, who had been the driving force for the ban, lose control of both chambers of Congress. In the House, Republicans gained an astounding 54 seats, and President Clinton credited NRA efforts for his party’s staggering defeat.

With fewer opportunities to pass anti-gun laws at the federal level, the gun-ban community sought to destroy American firearm manufacturers through frivolous lawsuits. Again, NRA stepped up. In 2005, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act became law, which put an end to the bogus litigation and saved the American firearms industry.

Today, the fight continues. There are countless members of Congress who are working to pass legislation that seeks to eviscerate the Second Amendment. The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives has already passed H.R. 8—the so-called “universal” background check bill that seeks to criminalize the types of common, firearm transfers law-abiding citizens make on a daily basis, like loaning a firearm to a friend—and H.R. 1112—which allows for potentially endless delays for firearm purchases.

I remain dedicated to the fight to preserve our firearm freedoms, and using the lessons of our past victories to protect our Right to Keep and Bear Arms for generations to come.

CHRIS W. COX: NRA-ILA Executive Director

Chris W. Cox has served as the executive director of the Institute for Legislative Action, the political and lobbying arm of NRA, since 2002. As NRA’s principal political strategist, Cox oversees eight NRA-ILA divisions: Federal Affairs; State & Local Affairs; Public Affairs; Grassroots; Finance; Research & Information; Conservation, Wildlife & Natural Resources; and Office of Legislative Counsel. Cox also serves as chairman of NRA’s Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF), the Association’s political action committee; president of the NRA Freedom Action Foundation (NRA-FAF), which focuses on non-partisan voter registration and citizen education; and chairman of NRA Country, an effort to bring country music artists together with NRA members in support of our Second Amendment freedoms and hunting heritage.

National Rifle Association Institute For Legislative Action (NRA-ILA)

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the “lobbying” arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Visit:

  • 23 thoughts on “Working Together to Save the Second Amendment: Part 1

    1. Cox is working together with LaPierre to save their salaries, power and cushy jobs with benefits more than saving the Second Amendment. Compromise is NOT preserving the 2nd Amendment, it is giving it away.

    2. A handful of negative comments and some “that a boys”….. Fine. Thank you Chris Cox and thank you NRA. The battle is getting thick and it’s always hard to see clearly in the smoke. Let’s work together to fight the real enemy : anti gunners and those who oppose the US constitution. Know thy enemy…..

    3. Cox would have been better off to let this die on the vine rather than kick the sleeping dog. We all know, and GMB listed the times they negotiated our rights away. Compare that to Cox’s list and you will see that we lost and the NRA did, also.

    4. The 1986 FOPA, commonly known to us as the automatic weapons ban, apparently Cox conveniently “forgot” about that part in his whitewashing of NRA history. His brand of pablum is not being eaten here.

    5. Didn’t read it, didn’t need to. Can’t bring myself to suspend my disbelief in anything you have to say. FO&D and take the NRA with you.

      Long term paid, current member of the NRA

    6. In my opinion nra is as phony as can be. Red flag law bumpstock bann and say YOUR for us? All i see is a few get to the top of nra and eat up hard working peoples money. I suggest you nra get off your butts cut the high wages you pay and quit pissing down our backs and tell us its rain

      1. Really, “Imagine if handguns were as difficult to lawfully acquire today as NFA items”. NRA supported NFA legislation which IN FACT restricted law abiding firearm owners owning certain firearms and accessories disguised to keep same out of the hands of criminals like Al Capone, which of course was a colossal failure then and to this day, well that is to keep certain firearms out of the hands of criminals was/is a colossal failure, the restrictions on the law abiding still restricts and chills their Rights to this day!

        Now the NRA supports a piece of plastic, worthless standing by itself, now being defined as a machine gun, and even more, egregiously agrees its members and other law abiding firearm owners should be deemed felons for legally engaging in commerce when purchasing a product legal to sell, buy and possess!

        Least we also forget, the NRA now supports the seizing of firearms legally owned and possessed by its members and other law abiding firearm owners, in absolute violation of the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th and 6th Amendments for some phony feel good legislation called ERPOs! Seize first, due process second is now the new NRA motto!

        As a voting member of the NRA and long time supporter, I am throughly disgusted with the path the NRA upper deck has chosen to take, SEIZE FIRST, DUE PROCESS SECOND, and a big portion of monies previously budgeted for the NRA is now employed elsewhere. I suspect many other members too are following suit.

        Shameful, absolutely shameful Cox!

        1. Negotiating Rights Away since 1934,has a long and storied history of instigating and backing gun control.

          1791: The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified.
          The amendment reads:

          “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state,
          the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

          After That
          1871: The National Rifle Association was formed by Union Army veterans Col. William C. Church
          and Gen. George Wingate.

          After that, they start going the other way

          The NRA actively supported the National Firearms Act of 1934.
          The NRA actively supported the Federal Firearms Act of 1938
          The NRA actively supported the Gun Control Act of 1968
          The NRA actively supported the misnamed Firearms Owners Protection Act including the Hughes Amendment (1986)
          The NRA actively supported the final version of the Assault Weapons Ban (1994)
          The NRA _proposed_ the bump stock ban
          The NRA is actively supporting “Red Flag” laws at the state and federal level.

          It can’t be you say,go back and read the congressional testimony of then NRA president Karl T. Frederick during the hearings for the abominable affront to God and country known as the 1934 NFA.  Frederick didn’t want us leaving our houses with a handgun, without being licensed i.e. a government permission slip.  The NRA: the largest wealthiest most powerful gun control organization in world history.

          The 1930s crime spree of the Prohibition era, which still summons images of outlaws outfitted with machine guns, prompted President Franklin Roosevelt to make gun control a feature of the New Deal. The NRA assisted Roosevelt in drafting the 1934 National Firearms Act and the 1938 Gun Control Act, the first federal gun control laws. These laws placed heavy taxes and regulation requirements on firearms that were associated with crime, such as machine guns, sawed-off shotguns and silencers. Gun sellers and owners were required to register with the federal government and felons were banned from owning weapons. Not only was the legislation unanimously upheld by the Supreme Court in 1939, but Karl T. Frederick, the president of the NRA, testified before Congress stating, “I have never believed in the general practice of carrying weapons. I do not believe in the general promiscuous toting of guns. I think it should be sharply restricted and only under licenses.”

          Work together to infringe on that which “Shall Not Be Infringed” with a group which has done more to advance infringement,I think not.

          1. A cogent comment. With facts. I like it.
            The less ranting, and more intelligent commentary helps the cause, when trolls and lurkers find their way here, then put out their typical branding of us as “ignorant rednecks with guns”. You do remember Obama’s notorious slur about us, right? Misinformation is their weapon. Don’t give them ammo.

          2. You are incorrect about a few things.
            1. The NFA was NOT about crime, it was about the congress being afraid the WW1 veterans would come to congress and clean house (as is their Right) after congress had screwed the veterans out of a bonus they were promised, plus murdering WW1 veterans protesting on the congressional lawn for their bonus. The NFA was written after Woodrow Wilson, a socialist and anti-American activist democrat, had enacted Income Tax to deny Americans accumulating wealth and now, to deny them their gun rights so America could be made a socialist/communist country. Silencers were added, not because they were used in crime, the NFA was a catch all to ban everything the anti-American communists could get away with. Cowardly Americans sat quietly as their gun Right and wealth were taken from them.
            2. ALL ‘gun control laws’ are un-Constitutional. NO law of congress or any state may alter the Constitution in any way. The ONLY REASON gun control laws work is because Americans are COWARDS and refuse to go against the government, be it federal, state or city. COWARDICE is why we are in the gun control jam. Had Americans stood up and said no, it would have died. Also, too many Americans refuse to vote, so we have a cancer in federal government that now believes it is the MASTER of the American People. IT IS NOT!

            Until Americans STOP bowing, like yellow cowards, to governmental tyranny as gun control, nothing will change.

            1. Craig, yes, it is all because we are all wimps and cowards. You are a bigger a– clown than those that pass the unconstitutional laws. How could Americans be afraid of going against government? Look at the Revolution and the Civil War as examples. There are other examples, too, but so far none have been successful, but it had nothing to do with cowardice. Blaming us for bad laws is like blaming your mother for not having an abortion. Well, that was her fault.

    7. Thanks for your article, Mr. Cox.
      I agree the NRA leads the charge in gun-rights advocacy and has done good things for us. I agree with the folks here that there is much more to be done. I believe the NRA needs to clean up its own organization before we go on the offensive and get back ALL of our constitutional rights. If you are part of the solution, co-opt the members and let’s get it done. If you are part of the problem, please stand aside and don’t make this tougher than it is.

    8. The entire article is vapid as it MISSES the whole point: ALL ‘gun control laws’ are un-Constitutional.
      NO LAW may stand that is not in 100% harmony with the Constitution. NO LAW may change, limit, deny or dismiss the Constitution. ONLY a Constitutional Amendment can do that and only in a limited form.
      Instead of snivelling about trying to change ‘gun laws’ laws in court, ORGANIZE the American people, about 5 million should do, and have them go unarmed the first time, to D.C. and tell congress “you remove the un-Constitutional gun laws, including the NFA, and stop trying to be our master as YOU ARE NOT!
      If you, as our servants, do not obey, we will be back and you will not be happy.”
      I find it pathetic that Americans have bowed to government tyranny. Especially when the snivelling cowards claim they must have guns to fight government tyranny. Not one of you did anything when the government sent its FBI HRT murder squad to shoot and burn alive American men, women & children at a church in Waco.
      Do your Constitutional Duty, it is your Right. Trying to get along with the anti-American communist democrats is futile. They want a communist America and Americans MUST be disarmed for that to happen.
      ORGANIZE AND TAKE YOUR RIGHTS BACK. Or, you can stay sedentary and pass a communist country to your posterity.

      1. This article may help marshal your arguments against those who ave and would continue to incrementally remove the right to keep and bear arms from the Constitution. The author recounts a discussion with a renowned authority of the English language and arrives at a clear and concise interpretation of the Second Amendment that even lawyers would find impossible to refute.

        The Unabridged Second Amendment

        1. What an absurd comment. Can you not read?
          The American PEOPLE are the power. COWARDICE is why we are at this point. The Founding Fathers said “We have given you a Republic…if you can keep it”. WE ARE NOT KEEPING IT. THAT is why we have a Second Amendment to control government and protect ourselves, our cities, state & country.
          COWARDICE, like what you blather in your post, makes me vomit.
          ‘waaaa…we can reason with the enemies of our country’, Is basically what you stated. The Founding Fathers ‘reasoned’ with the British by shooting them. COWARDICE is why we are in this pickle. When the SCOTUS passed the NFA, Americans sat quietly and let Freedom die. EVERY DAY Americans are told they cannot have this ammo or that magazine. They quietly, and most cowardly, submit to government tyranny.
          If you want to ‘reason’ with the enemy, you go right ahead, but, I am pretty sure you talk from the safety of your computer. I have TWO Honorable Discharges. I know how to deal with enemies and it does include a snivelling showing of a “concise interpretation of the Second Amendment that even lawyers would find impossible to refute.”
          Your naive comment and approach would only lend authority to the anti-American communist democrat’s anti-Constitution actions. Try not to wet your pajamas.

      2. Negative! Marching arm does not going to do it. We need to take bold action. Where I live a group of people who I know over the radio I’ve asked to start a militia group. But I’m not interested in 10 or 25 or 50 people. I intend on forming an entire Brigade and I intend on getting our local sheriff to participate on the civilian side as a civilian oversight. And then intend on raising other brigades within my own state. My intention is to form brigades the size of three to five battalions each with about five companies.

        My state as enough carriers to easily support that and more. Our founding fathers would have already started long long before the abuse is we’ve tolerated up to now.

    9. UNITED STATES CORPORATION has zero authority to take or regulate guns. It’s just a corporation like Walmart. This info is all on the internet and they even define the gov as a corporation in the federal register of federal laws not a gov.

    10. Funny how the NRA in this article brags about how they got carry guns off the NFA but neglects to mention their testimony said they opposed concealed and open carry.

      Also funny how they condemn the GCA but endorsed it.

    11. “[protecting the second amendment] is a distinct privilege I cherish every day.”

      Then what exactly were you doing when you starred in videos endorsing gun confisication and further restrictions on firearms purchases?

      “Imagine if handguns were as difficult to lawfully acquire today as NFA items.”
      Imagine if for a civilian the most common firearms in the world were flat out impossible to obtain new legally. Oh wait, the NRA deliberately stabbed us in the back to make it that way. We know it was a stab in the back because Wayne LaPierre admitted it in 2017. Also funny how you talk about using it for concealed carry when the NRA’s testimony for the NFA was very clear the NRA did NOT support it.

      “This effort culminated in the 1968 Gun Control Act (GCA), a hastily enacted law that sorely lacked logic and clear definitions.”
      Which is why the NRA endorsed it and stood by its endorsement years latter…

      “the efforts finally paid off in 1986 with the passage of the McClure-Volkmer Firearm Owners Protection Act.”
      NRA in 1986 “Repealing the machine gun amendment tacked on to the McClure-Volkmer bill will be a high priority” said National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action Executive Director Wayne LaPierre Jr.” and “The National Rifle Association supports the right of law-abiding individuals to choose to own any firearm, including automatic firearms”. NRA in 2017 “We have supported the existing on on automatic firearms”.

      “The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives has already passed H.R. 8—the so-called “universal” background check bill that seeks to criminalize the types of common, firearm transfers law-abiding citizens make on a daily basis, like loaning a firearm to a friend”
      A system NRA head Wayne LaPierre testified before Congress in support of in 1999.

      “”H.R. 1112—which allows for potentially endless delays for firearm purchases.””
      The NRA has already established it is OK with 3 day delays in the event of NICS overload. Why is that acceptable but longer delays not?

      Perhaps the NRA should work on internal reform instead of tooting its own horn?

      1. It has been my observation that the leadership of the NRA is too eager to “compromise” Second Amendment rights.

        Negotiating with liberals and government is incremental surrender.

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