The NRA's Apolitical Roots

With Trayvon Martin, Chardon High School, and One Goh, it’s rare to go a month in the U.S. without a high-profile shooting. That’s because in the U.S. there are nearly as many guns as people—second only to Yemen, with half the ownership rate—and the last decades have seen concealed-carry laws and the rollback of the Assault Weapons Ban. At the forefront of this push has been the National Rifle Association, which champions the “right to bear arms,” guaranteed by the Second Amendment. Yet as Jill Lepore explains in The New Yorker, the Second Amendment was only recently reinterpreted as guaranteeing the right to bear arms, rather than the right to form a militia for community defense. In fact, until the 1970s, the NRA, which started as a hunting association, backed many of the nation’s first modern gun-control laws.