When the NRA was founded in 1871, its primary purpose was to teach "urban northerners" how to use guns as well as their Southern counterparts could, figuring that this disparity lengthened the Civil War by several years. The organization taught basic marksmanship and firearm maintenance, funded the construction of shooting ranges, partnered with the War Department to host tournaments, and sparked the interest of a thoroughly traumatized nation in need of some semblance of security.
They weren't just teaching hunters how not to blow their balls off, however. They were also big players on Capitol Hill, where (and hold on to this next sentence like a wish that your heart makes) they spent their time politicking for both sides of the gun control debate. They campaigned against legislation that would have impugned their core membership base, hunters and sportsmen. But they also proposed and sponsored gun control bills. In the 1920s, for instance, they drafted handgun regulations not too dissimilar from those that they campaign against today: regulations requiring a permit for concealed weapons, a mandatory waiting period, and making records of gun sales available to law enforcement. In the 1930s, they went further and sponsored both the 1934 National Firearms Act and the 1938 Gun Control Act, which, among other things, banned felons from owning guns, required gun sellers and owners to register with the government, and placed heavy tax levies on guns associated with the likes of Bonnie & Clyde, and John Dillinger.