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tv   NRA Origins 1930s Politics  CSPAN  August 11, 2021 7:56pm-8:13pm EDT

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>> patrick charles is a former
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marine and now senior historian for the u.s. air force and the author of the book armed in america, a history of gun rights from wishes to conceal carry. thanks for being with us on c-span 3's american history tv. >> thank you steve. glad to be. here >> let me begin with the origins of the nra, the national rifle association, how did the association come about and why? >> they came about after the civil war, where there was poor -- through the war, so two officers decided to form the nra with two purposes. one is to facilitate, build and grow long range rifle ranges and the other one is to assist the state and national guards.. the nra initially just so you know was kind of working to get appropriations from the
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government, they started off with one organization, it grew to 1700 by 1929. they also are just so you know built, and there was a english national rifle association and there was a predecessor built in 1950 nights of this was supposed to be the american version. the only thing that differentiated the two to start off with was this franchise like model that you can start and build a rifle club locally, or statewide and it's a nra affiliated rifle club, the rifle clubs will compete in state, local, and -- local ranges. >> -- recognize the organization today in 2020. >> not at all. the organization was not at all intended to be political in any way. i think that you can even say as late
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as mid 1960s that the heads of that organization couldn't see what the nra has become today. the nra, one, became a political organization, not solely focused on entering the national guard. the second thing that i would say is that in the 1950s and sixties the nra officials repeatedly said that they did not want to be a partisan organization. it would be a disservice to the nra and the american people. as we know they are closely intertwined in boost trapping the american party. >> of course, state right it's one of the >> depends on what you are fundamental formations of our country, but it is a patchwork of gun laws back then and today. so how does that influence or effect the rule of the nra? talking about. early on the federal government was involved in gun laws whatsoever. they were in state and local level. primarily local. state laws
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would cover broad swaths of area. dealers may be concealed carry. minors not shooting guns. but the local laws governing all things that were minor to the town, that continued to be a standard rule of thumb until the 1930s, when the federal government got involved in firearms law. even then when the laws were passed, the nra argued at the time the state governments should be the ones controlling farms and making those decisions. >> so which state or states passed those laws and when? >> that is a difficult question. if you're looking at gun laws it goes back to the 18th century, actually early 17th century there's a couple of gun laws and bucks. but those laws were basically either about gunpowder storage, -- could carry a gun, what kind of weapons you could or could
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not have. how far you could fire away from a settled population. most laws said you could not fire or shoot a rifle within a quarter mile of the town. so those are the initial early gun laws. those involved mostly into curing laws and then in the 19th century these things because the -- laws were talking about, far arms dealers, minors, dangerous people, things of that nature that shouldn't have guns. that's the modern beginning of gun control as we know. it >> there goes directly to your book from wishes to conceal carrying. can you explain how it evolved of the last 200 plus years? >> the regional rate is not what we know it as today. if you look at all the founding documents. all of it hints to the federalized militia debate which is the arguments about states rights, constitutions in the states. who had the power of militia? the power of state
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militias took control of during war. when it came to the states, they said they wanted full control. the concern of the constitution 1987 and then 70, nine the fed -- there were protections in the constitution to that effect but the second amendment is more or less a reflection of that fear. that isn't to say that the statement have individual right component or it wasn't linked that all to an individual having a gun. the conception of liberty that the founders understood was that you know in order to understand them you have to fight for them. you needed to train for that liberty, that was a understanding of a well regulated militia. the will regulate militias not the same thing as armed citizen. it means well-trained. multiple militia commentators talked about at the time the two most important aspect of militia was training, and have they moved their legs, it was a colonial force of rifles at the time, it was about turning and maneuvering those forces away, that effectuate of the economy
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of force. now beginning at the 19th century is that when we start to get the conception of the right to arms that we more or less talk about today. those were really guided by state supreme court decisions. and every state supreme court was faced with this issue where people would challenge a gun law or something -- somebody would come to the court with criminal law. slowly but surely, virtually every state court recommended some individual state right to arms. that right though was severely-limited by what was called state police power which essentially gives the state the power to legislate health safety welfare, that includes preventing people from getting shot by bullets. so that continues to hold sway. that goes into the earliest 20th century. -- understands that kind of interpretation as well. and then i believe in
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1939 is at the supreme court's first weighs on the supreme court forced detail. they talked about it, one or two or three supreme court decisions but nothing and depth. and it is different because they addressed more of the heart of the issue and it is very cryptic, but courts after the supreme court issued that decision -- protects a collective right, not individual right. that remained the status quo, at least legally speaking. i can see politically the average person on the street to think that was
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the case but legally speaking until the district of columbia howler into the senate recognize the second amendment protects the right to keep their arms -- the right extends to self-defense. >> so again to be clear during the twenties and thirties is when we saw the start of gun control legislation in this country? >> i think more modern as you know today. the categories that are being regulated in the 19 twenties and thirties are really no different from the late 19th century but you start to see more modern types of laws and regulations. they're becoming more comprehensive if that answers your question. >> let's go back a little bit further because you say the formations, the generation of the nra post civil war. how do they view the second amendment then versus had a debut today? are there differences? >> yes. i think when the nra is first established in 1971 it's going to be a hard fine to see them talking about the second amendment. it's really a turn of the 20th century that they start talking about the second amendment, and it's almost always in the context of what
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is called the 1911 sullivan law which was new york's law, the first law to require somebody to get a permit to purchase and hold a handgun, before that there weren't such laws other than a brief chicago law. i believe they enacted their lot into thousand eight, it didn't stain the books long, that was important because new york at the time with epicenter of the united states in terms of population, new york city i think the city was over 5200, if you take the 50 to 100 city at the time and you get them all up, they still don't reach new york city. that is how central new york was to the united states of the time. so obviously they had a big theater. plus you have to remember that they're organizing a charter admits new york. that's where most of the members are on and that's where their headquarters is. that's when they would talk about the
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second amendment. more so in passing than in depth though. >> of course under the auspices of the weapons crossing borders in the 19th century we have robert bear, seen in the 20th century, we had the mob violence and the gang violence. so how did all of that effect the debate in this country? >> there's an interesting thing, i think the everybody intended states agreed that there was a problem. there's no disagreement there. the only disagreement was more or less in terms of how do you solve the problem. there was a movement in the united states that more or less looked at the fact that the government was passing to many laws, -- law-abiding citizens. that extended to fire arms. so when they are debating that, everyone agrees that gangsters are a problem including the nra, the nra is arguing that maybe these cars are being financed by gangsters and the gangsters are secretly the ones who want them because we the law abiding citizen will be disarmed and not be able to fight back. conversely, you have people
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that are supporting gun control at the time, individuals more so than the movement but their argument is the reverse of that. they're saying maybe it is the gangsters that are financing the nra, are financing the laws to stop the law from being passive that we can continue carrying guns and doing crime as usual. it's interesting that nobody disagrees that gangsters are the epicenter of why the gun laws really come to the foray but both sides are using as propaganda for support. >> so when did the nra move to his origins to where we are today? was the pivot point? was it world war ii? post-world war ii? >> i would say it is 1932. 1932 is when the nra backed legislation known as the farms act which was intended, it was model state legislation that was supposed to be enacted everywhere as a way to make lost uniform. in doing so that would protect sportsman an interstate from indiana to
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ohio. if iowa had such a loss and i was troubling in a car i wouldn't be harmed by going into that state necessarily because the laws would be uniform. they are uniform fires act was so popular that the nra convince the new york assembly by overwhelming majorities to enact the legislation. not enough to override it but, -- to veto the legislation when governor roosevelt vetoed the legislation the nra really ramped up its efforts and it started putting advertisements for recruitment were to market. that they started putting the margins of the american rifle, ten objectives, the first three related to fighting farms legislation. so that i think is the genesis of where the nra becomes. but the nra for many decades after that, in the 1930s the attorney general of the united states knew -- he became very well aware of what
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the nra was doing. so the nra was continuing to do this for decades. it's not until jfk gets assassinated that the american public that's a wake up call and gets introduced to the nra as one that fits for itself. >> how did a marine become a senior airman for the u.s. air force? >> went to the marine corps. stationed overseas. i called my guard. paris in shanghai. from there i got the international
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affairs plug and then i want to george washington, george washington is probably the most political organization it or political university in the country. got the log. and you know one thing will lead to another to leave myself back to the air force and history. but i'm very fortunate to be serving with them. very lucky to have served along side these men and women. >> we mentioned at the top your book is titled armed in america, a history of militias. if you could select one talking point, one take away from your book, what is it? >> what i hope people take away is that the right to arms as we know it today, or discuss it today is not the same as it was discussed 200 years ago. 100 years ago. or even 50 years ago. it has evolved. it has changed with the times. the other takeaway hope is that was have changed to adapt to the environment. to gun violence. to changes in technology and whatnot. whatever your side is -- if you are pro gun or pro gun control or just in the middle somewhere, the big
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takeaway, you have a conversation about it. there's things for everybody's perspective -- it's not just about taking away your perspective that you like but there are different perspectives as well. >> patrick charles, joining us from new york, we thank you for being with us. >> thank you steve. now, american artifacts a visit to the national arms museum in fairfax


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