By Kyle Jillson | May 2 2014 12:30

Educating our future generations on our rights to bear arms

NRA Foundation-funded junior rifle team at the NRA National Matches in Camp Perry, Ohio

Fairfax, Virginia - The NRA Institute for Legislative Action isn't the only part of our large organization that protects America's shooting traditions. In this piece by NRA Event Support Coordinator Peter Lawess, we learn how a different section of the NRA does its part for our freedoms.

Defending Freedom through Education: How NRA's non-political branch protects the Second Amendment

In recent years, droves of NRA members and supporters across the country have joined in an effort to halt the legislative attacks on our Second Amendment rights. Many have voiced their opinions, solicited signatures for petitions, advocated for political candidates, and shared news and information. Seeing as the NRA is the country’s oldest civil rights organization and known for its acceptance of political discourse, many are unaware or confused that there is a strictly non-political branch of the National Rifle Association: The NRA Foundation and its fundraising arm, Friends of NRA. Knowing the difference between the activities of the National Rifle Association and The NRA Foundation is necessary to fully understand the organization of the NRA and its mission to protect the right to keep and bear arms.

While lobbying and campaigning are necessary to combat current anti-gun legislation, the very necessity to engage in these activities reveals that a larger battle is being lost. Widespread ignorance about firearms is allowing more and more Americans to have their beliefs about the Second Amendment shaped by equally ignorant, anti-gun biased media and political figures. The only way to deter future threats to our Second Amendment freedoms is to provide the education that our country currently lacks.

Educational organizations and events have historically been most influential in exercising and upholding the right to keep and bear arms. The National Rifle Association itself was founded “to promote rifle marksmanship on a scientific basis” and correct the firearms training shortcomings of the Civil War. Teddy Roosevelt noted that young people shot less over time while he was in office and set to correct it by establishing the National Matches and what would become the Civilian Marksmanship Program. These organizations were founded to educate and provide citizens the opportunity to shoot, long before “gun control” became part of America’s vernacular. We see that the continuation of the Second Amendment first and foremost depends on access to firearms education, training and the shooting sports.

The NRA Foundation protects the Second Amendment as the country’s leading charitable organization in support of the shooting sports. The vast majority of its funds go to non-profit youth programs. The organizations that The NRA Foundation supports such as 4-H, JROTC, Boy Scouts, and junior shooting teams allow young people to learn about firearms and participate in the shooting sports at varying levels, from beginners courses to national-level competitions. The Eddie Eagle GunSafe® Program is almost exclusively funded by The NRA Foundation, helping teach millions of children to avoid firearms accidents. The NRA Youth Education Summit, completely funded by The NRA Foundation, gives high school students a one-of-a-kind opportunity to learn about American history and government in the nation’s capital. Altogether, The NRA Foundation uses funds raised through Friends of NRA to educate people in the safe and responsible use of firearms. This is absolutely imperative to protect the Second Amendment for future generations since it is guarded first and foremost by those same responsible, educated people.

Classified as a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization, The NRA Foundation’s mission is strictly educational and political activity is strictly prohibited. If a 501(c)3 organization is found to be engaging in political activity, it loses its tax-exempt status with no opportunity to reapply for a 501(c)4 classification that would allow some political activity (NRA is classified as a 501(c)4 organization). Contributions to The NRA Foundation are tax-deductible, whereas those to the National Rifle Association are not, allowing The NRA Foundation to raise more funds than otherwise would be possible. In this case, defending freedom requires our supporters to leave political issues aside when associating with The NRA Foundation and Friends of NRA.

There has never been a better or more important time to support The NRA Foundation and Friends of NRA. In 2013, Friends of NRA set a fundraising record of $32 Million that will be distributed in grants to nonprofit organizations all over the country. The Second Amendment supporters ought to be encouraged that despite ongoing threats to our rights, millions of Americans are coming together to invest in the future of the shooting sports with unprecedented determination.

Get involved and attend a Friends of NRA event near you. Go to http://friendsofnra.org/events.

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