I got a message this week from the NRA-Institute for Legislative Action. It consisted of a list of bills in the Texas Congress backed by the NRA. A message like this is usually a scroll-through read before deleting, but it caught my attention this time around. With all the new gun legislation making noise in Washington, it can make state legislation seem miniscule or inane. However, the biggest fights are going on in state legislatures. New York was the first to sign a very restrictive bill into law, and now New Jersey, Minnesota, and Colorado are proposing legislation that will restrict gun owners’ rights in many ways. State legislatures have more power than the federal government. Because of the smaller constituency and lobbying efforts, state governments can pass bills into laws with more ease than the U.S. Congress. So, you’re more likely to see restrictions on your gun rights come from your state than the federal government. The NRA-ILA knows this and lobbies for our rights at all levels of government.
The NRA established the ILA in 1975 with the mission of preserving the right of all law-abiding citizens to purchase, possess, and use firearms. The NRA-ILA was instrumental in the passage of the 1986 Firearm Owners’ Protection Act and have continued to lobby for our Second Amendment rights since. As not all policies that endanger our gun rights come from the federal government, the ILA works vigorously to prevent attacks from anti-gun legislators at the state level. The ILA lobbies against any legislation that directly or indirectly affects firearm ownership or use such as hunting, conservation, law enforcement issues, shooting ranges and criminal justice reform.
On the legal end of things, the NRA Civil Rights Legal Defense Fund lends financial and legal support to individuals and organizations defending the right to keep and bear arms. The NRA established the CRLDF in 1978 in order to have a voice in the court of law. By defending Second Amendment rights in court, the CRLDF is able to establish legal precedents that will protect gun owners’ rights.
Currently, both organizations have a law or case they are working on in every state. Some of the their lobbying efforts are going toward passing laws that protect Second Amendment rights, such as the law in Virginia that will protect the identities of those with concealed handgun permits. Other efforts are working to stop laws that would further encroach upon the rights of gun owners, such as the current legislation in New Jersey.