THE NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION: THE EVOLUTION OF A SOCIAL MOVEMENT (GUN CONTROL, SHOOTING, HISTORY, NATIONAL DEFENSE)

EDWARD FRANCIS LEDDY, Fordham University

Abstract

This dissertation is an analysis of the political and social factors which influenced the development of the National Rifle Association from a sport and hobby organization into an influential national socio-political movement and a skillful and effective lobby against gun control. Three methods of analysis were used: historical, content analysis of the publication The American Rifleman, and examination of the demographics of the membership and of gun owners.^ The association's history from 1926 to 1983 showed a gradually increasing concern with the issue of gun control. It is argued that this concern was largely in reaction to attacks on gun ownership led by people motivated by what Lionel Trilling called an "adversary culture" stance toward America and its institutions. Content analysis of The American Rifleman indicated that in response to attacks from advocates of strict gun control, there was a marked increase in the attention given to social matters related to gun control. NRA members were found to have similar socioeconomic profiles as their opponents. However they differed from them on almost all sociopolitical issues.^ It was concluded that the National Rifle Association has followed a previously unrecognized route toward social activism and political influence. The members of the "new class" in the National Rifle Association, holding traditionalist populist attitudes, used their organization and persuasive skills to redirect the organization as a tool for conservative social activism. They acted against the growing influence of their opponents, whose interests and ideologies clashed with their own pro-gun groups. In effect, the history of the National Rifle Association must be read alongside the conflicts of class and power groups in America since the last World War. ^

Subject Area

American history|Sociology

Recommended Citation

LEDDY, EDWARD FRANCIS, "THE NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION: THE EVOLUTION OF A SOCIAL MOVEMENT (GUN CONTROL, SHOOTING, HISTORY, NATIONAL DEFENSE)" (1985). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8612860.
https://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8612860

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