The National Rifle Association got its moment in TIME’s spotlight, as the nation marked one year since the Cleveland School massacre in Stockton, Calif., where 5 young children were killed and 30 others wounded by a shooting at the elementary school’s playground. The perpetrator: an unstable drifter wielding a semiautomatic weapon that he had acquired with little oversight. This massacre put pressure on the NRA and its president, Joe Foss — a legendary World War II Marine pilot, Congressional Medal of Honor winner, two-term governor of South Dakota and, of course, prominent gun owner. The cover story offered a deep profile of the lobbying group as a whole, detailing its fraught political history and its staunch views about Second Amendment rights:
There are few things that anger N.R.A. leaders as much as their reputation for recklessly opposing even the most sensible gun limits. Their goal, they insist, has been to ensure that gun-control laws are drafted tightly enough so that legitimate weapons and ammunition are not affected. They say their no-retreat, no-surrender approach to most battles is just tactical. “You don’t give up ground from the first day,” says chief lobbyist [James Jay] Baker.