Date of Submission

Spring 2020

Academic Program

Historical Studies

Project Advisor 1

Myra Armstead

Abstract/Artist's Statement

My project, Armed and Dangerous: The Ascendance of the National Rifle Association focuses on the history of the National Rifle Association (NRA). I attempt to chart the NRA’s progression from a fairly apolitical organization into the vitriolic, single issue lobbying/business group that it has been since 1977. My first chapter provides an overview of the NRA in its contemporary iteration. My second chapter will focus on the social and cultural myths that have allowed the NRA to prosper in the face of harsh criticism. In this chapter, I also try to identify the ontological roots of the gun rights argument and I will also specifically examine the racialist thought regarding black and Native Americans that informs the current NRA position. My final chapter will examine whom the National Rifle Association actually represents: big businesses, gun owners, or something in-between. I utilize myriad newspaper articles, public addresses, general historical sources, and sources with theoretical frameworks useful in analyzing this organization (Imagined Communities by Benedict Anderson and Silencing the Past by Michel-Rolph Trouillot) while conducting my research. I intend for this project to contribute in providing a better understanding of the cultural identities and beliefs that have allowed this organization to monopolize the Second Amendment. My research has illuminated that facts are not important to how the NRA is conducted, both publicly and privately. Instead, it capitalizes off of latent cultural and nationalistic identities, beliefs that appear to invoke more visceral reactions than facts. I believe that by analyzing the National Rifle Association and its constituency through Anderson’s lens of imagined communities, the mysterious success of the National Rifle Association will become demystified.

Open Access Agreement

Open Access

Creative Commons License

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