Mass shootings, like the two that occurred just 10 days apart in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, are becoming more frequent – and traumatic. And yet efforts to restrict access to guns and control gun violence somehow seem to go nowhere.

The National Rifle Association can take much of the credit for this political paralysis, political scientist Robert Spitzer explains while tracing the NRA’s long history. The group formed shortly after the Civil War, with an emphasis on marksmanship. For much of its existence, the group was more open to basic limits on gun ownership than it is today.

In the 1930s, for example, the NRA supported a waiting period for gun purchases. It was only in the 1970s that the NRA became “ever more political and strident in its defense of so-called ‘gun rights,’ which it increasingly defined as nearly absolute under the Second Amendment,” Spitzer writes.

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Emily Schwartz Greco

Philanthropy + Nonprofits Editor

NRA conventiongoers, like these at the gun group’s 2018 big meeting, browse firearms exhibits. Loren Elliott/AFP via Getty Images

How the NRA evolved from backing a 1934 ban on machine guns to blocking nearly all firearm restrictions today

Robert Spitzer, State University of New York College at Cortland

The group, founded in 1871, didn’t try to smother virtually all gun control efforts until the mid-1970s.

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