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Jacology: St. Louis NRA Convention

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(KPLR) - My first gun was a 22 single-shot rifle we got from Sears about a year before JFK was assassinated. I figured as a respectable 12 year old gun owner, I should know more about gun safety. So I came up with five bucks for a year's membership, tore the ad out of Boy's Life Magazine, and joined the National Rifle Association. I got a few issues of the American Rifleman Magazine, read all of their instructional booklets about gun safety, and that was about it.

This was back when the NRA was about as controversial as the Consumer Federation of America or Good Housekeeping. It was a shooting safety organization. It was not political.  But things changed. The murders of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy in 1968 led to the gun control act. It outlawed mail order sales of rifles and shotguns. It put strict record-keeping requirements on gun dealers.  Four years later, in 1972 the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms was created.

But at the same time, riots shook American cities. White flight accelerated from many major cities, including St. Louis. Middle-class America was worried about scenes of urban bloodshed on TV.  Crime rates also began climbing. And in the 1970's, the NRA started to morph from a sportsmen's shooting association, into a political lobbying group determined to limit or overturn gun control laws.

Fear of crime and fear of unrest, were growing at the same time. And that meant people were suddenly talking about guns for protection, not for hunting or target shooting. And against that background, the NRA became one of the most powerful lobbying organizations in American history. And this week, they hold their national convention in St. Louis.

Coming up tomorrow, Mayor Francis Slay and city police Chief Dan Isom versus the NRA.

I'm Charles Jaco and that's Jacology.