A total of only 11 students showed up to the NRA’s Saturday afternoon training session.

The Yale College Republicans co-hosted the two-hour event, which was part of the NRA’s university program. The program seeks to educate college students across the country about the NRA’s functions and teach students to become more effective activists in firearm deregulation. During the training session, NRA representative Susannah Kipke redefined certain firearm terms used in contemporary politics and encouraged students to get involved with the NRA — often considered the leading advocate against tighter gun regulations.

“Put a yard sign up in your dorm or home and a bumper sticker on your car,” Kipke said when suggesting ways to drive up young membership of the NRA.

At the end of the event, Kipke distributed hats with NRA’s logo sewed onto them and offered the attendees a one-year membership to the organization. She also suggested that campuses like Yale invite pro-gun candidates to visit and host firearm safety classes in order to boost involvement in the NRA.

Of the handful of students attending, most identified themselves as “shooters” — in other words, firearm users.

NRA member Emily Taylor ’16 said that while the event went well, she was disappointed that so few students came.

“I kind of wished they would have had a larger turnout. It was well-advertised so I’m not sure why more people didn’t come,” she said. She added that people who are opposed to guns would not have felt uncomfortable at the event because the facts were delivered respectfully, without addressing polarizing issues outside of gun control.

Will McGrew ’18, a member of the Yale College Democrats, said even if he was aware of the event, he would not have attended.

“Even though I support the Second Amendment, I don’t want any involvement with an organization that opposes background checks and restrictions on military-style weapons,” he said.

Still, McGrew said the group “had every right to speak” on campus.

During the presentation, Kipke alluded to “trouble” regarding Connecticut’s recent gun control laws. In April 2013, Gov. Dannel Malloy signed a bill into law that mandates universal background checks before purchasing or borrowing a firearm, adds more firearms to the list of state-prohibited assault weapons and bans magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. The law was passed in response to the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

Though Kipke expressed opposition to this legislation, Yale College Republicans President Andrea Barragan ’16 emphasized that the visit was not planned as a response to Malloy’s legislation. She did note, however, that voters should keep in mind that in casting a ballot this November, they are selecting which candidate will uphold their Second Amendment rights.

While the NRA stresses no political party affiliations, members of the Dems said that they do not feel that the organization is nonpartisan. DemsPresident Becca Ellison ’15 said she was not surprised when she heard that the NRA was doing an event with the GOP because both organizations tend to pursue firearm deregulation.

“The Republican Party has closely aligned itself with the NRA in opposing even the most basic gun safety legislation,” she said. “I think people are tired of the obstructionism and misinformation when it comes to gun safety and want to move to productive conversations about how to prevent unnecessary gun violence.”

Both she and Barragan agreed that a better understanding of firearms and their use would be key in creating productive legislation moving forward.

When it was founded in 1871, the NRA worked with the New Haven-based Winchester Repeating Arms Company, which was the largest industry in New Haven. Now, the plant has moved to Utah, and Connecticut has some of the most progressive gun safety laws in the country.


  • ethanjrt

    11 is still too many, but I have to say that overall this news warms my heart. The NRA is one of the most unabashedly evil organizations out there; most of your other classic bogeymen (e.g. Monsanto or big tobacco) don’t even come close.

    • charliewalls

      Couldn’t agree more. The sense of the 2nd Amendment is not clear. The NRA has led one interpretation and beat back criticisms. A shameful organization.

      • yangreen

        What was the history of why the Founders included it?

        • http://www.artspace.com/magazine/interviews_features/lists/the-10-worst-ways-to-die-in-a-hieronymous-bosch-painting-53872 Hieronymus Machine
        • Tombstone Gabby

          I’m not sure of all the reasons, but one was probably the 50,000+ convicts that England had transported the Colonies. These folk were often auctioned off as ‘indentured servants’.

          The last shipment to the American continent was in April of 1776. After that, English courts went to “hang, or join the army”. The next batch of ‘convicts’ came wearing red coats.

          Not just criminals; Irish and Scottish rebels were also transported.

          • yangreen

            Interesting but how does that fit into the rationale for it? (Replied to wrong comment before )

          • Tombstone Gabby

            Sorry to be so slow to reply. Back in the early ’90’s, when CD’s for computers were being introduced, I bought a copy of Compton’s Encyclopedia on disk. Had occasion to check out ‘vigilantism’. (The root word goes back to ancient Greece.) That led me to ‘police forces’. I found out that The United States and Australia were two of the last countries to form organized police forces, in the 1800’s. Prior to that, for protection from criminals, you were on your own. To deny citizens a way to defend themselves effectively, probably didn’t seem like a very sensible idea.

            Study history, don’t repeat it. Compare the results: Prohibition, Georgia colony, 1734 with US Prohibition, 1920. History repeating itself. Don’t do it.

        • yangreen

          Interesting but how does that fit into the rationale for it?

      • http://www.myhightechsecurity.com jack burton

        Summary of various court decisions concerning gun rights


        · U.S. vs. Emerson, 5 Fed (1999), confirmed an individual right requiring compelling government interest for regulation.

        · Nunn v. State, 1 Ga. 243, 250, 251 (1846) (struck down a ban on sale of small, easily concealed handguns as violating Second Amendment);

        · State v. Chandler, 5 La.An. 489, 490, 491 (1850) (upheld a ban on concealed carry, but acknowledged that open carry was protected by Second Amendment);

        · Smith v. State, 11 La.An. 633, 634 (1856) (upheld a ban on concealed carry, but recognized as protected by Second Amendment “arms there spoken of are such as are borne by a people in war, or at least carried openly”);

        · State v. Jumel, 13 La.An. 399, 400 (1858) (upheld a ban on concealed carry, but acknowledged a Second Amendment right to carry openly);

        · Cockrum v. State, 24 Tex. 394, 401, 402 (1859) (upheld an enhanced penalty for manslaughter with a Bowie knife, but acknowledged that the Second Amendment guaranteed an individual right to possess arms for collective overthrow of the government);

        · In Re Brickey, 8 Ida. 597, 70 Pac. 609, 101 Am.St.Rep. 215, 216 (1902) (struck down a ban on open carry of a revolver in Lewiston, Idaho as violating both Second Amendment and Idaho Const. guarantee);

        · State v. Hart, 66 Ida. 217, 157 P.2d 72 (1945) (upheld a ban on concealed carry as long as open carry was allowed based on both Second Amendment and Idaho Const. guarantee);

        · State v. Nickerson, 126 Mont. 157, 166 (1952) (striking down a conviction for assault with a deadly weapon, acknowledging a right to carry based on Second Amendment and Montana Const. guarantee).

        · U.S. v. Hutzell, 8 Iowa, 99-3719, (2000) (cite in dictum that “an individual’s right to keep and bear arms is constitutionally protected, see United States v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174, 178-79 (1939).”).


        · U.S. v. Cruikshank, 92 U.S. 542, 552 (1876) (limiting use of the Enforcement Act of 1870 so that Klansmen could not be punished for mass murder and disarming of freedmen);

        · State v. Workman, 35 W.Va. 367, 373 (1891) (upholding a ban on carry of various concealable arms);

        · State v. Kerner, 181 N.C. 574, 107 S.E. 222 (1921) (overturning a ban on open carry of pistols based on North Carolina Const., but acknowledging Second Amendment protected individual right from federal laws).


        · Andrews v. State, 3 Heisk. (50 Tenn.) 165, 172, 173 (1871);

        · Fife v. Sta te, 31 Ark. 455, 25 Am.Rep. 556, 557, 558 (1876); State v. Hill, 53 Ga. 472, 473, 474 (1874);

        · Dunne v. People, 94 Ill. 120, 140, 141 (1879); Presser v. Illinois, 116 U.S. 252, 265, 266 (1886) (upholding a ban on armed bodies marching through the streets);

        · People v. Persce, 204 N.Y. 397, 403 (1912); In re Rameriz, 193 Cal. 633, 636, 226 P. 914 (1924) (upholding a ban on resident aliens possessing handguns).


        · English v. State, 35 Tex. 473, 476, 477 (1872)

        · State v. Duke, 42 Tex. 455, 458, 459 (1875) (upholding a ban on carrying of handguns, Bowie knives, sword-canes, spears, and brass knuckles);

        · People v. Liss, 406 Ill. 419, 94 N.E.2d 320, 322, 323 (1950) (overturning a conviction for carrying a concealed handgun and acknowledging that the right in the Second Amendment was individual);

        · Guida v. Dier, 84 Misc.2d 110, 375 N.Y.S.2d 827, 828 (1975) (denying that “concealable hand weapons” were protected by the Second Amendment, but acknowledging that an individual right protects other firearms).


        · Robertson v. Baldwin, 165 U.S. 275, 281, 282, 17 S.Ct. 826, 829 (1897); U.S. v. Verdugo-Urquidez, 110 S.Ct. 1056, 1060, 1061 (1990).

        And, of course… here’s a story from that notoriously famous “pro gun and pro conservative” newspaper, the New York Times which quotes that fashionable lawyer so loved by liberals across the nation, Lawrence Tribe…

        “Laurence H. Tribe, a law professor at Harvard, said he had come to believe that the Second Amendment protected an individual right.”

        “My conclusion came as something of a surprise to me, and an unwelcome surprise,” Professor Tribe said. “I have always supported as a matter of policy very comprehensive gun control.”

        The whole article is certainly well worth reading… especially for those confused over just what the 2nd Amendment really means.

      • cargosquid

        I you cannot understand simple english, then go back to school. Not only is it clear, it is so clear that the historical interpretation of an individual right to keep and bear arms was so dominant that there was no need to clarify it.

        That is, until the progressives decided that an unarmed populace was a good thing.

        But if you still think it is unclear, go read the Heller decision. Even the 4 dissenters agree that there is an individual right to keep and bear arms.

      • Tombstone Gabby

        May I add something from a web page you might like to look at: the usual “www” followed by “avalon.law.yale.edu/17th century/england.asp. Yes, the English Bill of Rights. Wherein: “That the subjects which are Protestants may have arms for their defence suitable to their conditions and as allowed by law;”.
        Now the Englishmen (sometimes called ‘the Founding Fathers’) who wrote the US Declaration of Independence, and the US Constitution , and the US Bill of Rights, as you will note on that web page, basically copied the English version, with the addition of the concept – “All men are created equal”.
        The sense is clear, and up until about 1946, no-one doubted the meaning of the Second Amendment; it was an individual right that the government was not to infringe upon. It has been.

    • http://www.artspace.com/magazine/interviews_features/lists/the-10-worst-ways-to-die-in-a-hieronymous-bosch-painting-53872 Hieronymus Machine

      Herein lies evidence of why the chasm is nigh on insurmountable: “evil.”

      Conservatives often think liberal ideas are unworkable, irrational, detrimental.
      Liberals, on the other hand, often think Conservatives, for holding conservative ideas, are “evil” (and what do we do with “evil,” pray tell?).

      Don’t take my word for it, take if it from the (liberal) NYT: “Liberals don’t understand conservative values. And they can’t recognize this failing, because they’re so convinced of their [own] rationality, open-mindedness and enlightenment.” http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/25/books/review/the-righteous-mind-by-jonathan-haidt.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

      For the adventurous among you, venture here: http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/jonathan-haidt-can-explain-the-liberal-hobby-lobby-freakout/
      and here:http://personality-testing.info/tests/MFQ.php

      P.S. Does anyone else see irony in “progressive” as a synonym for “restrictive?”

      • ethanjrt

        Re: The NRA — Nice job digesting my argument and excreting it in the
        form of an “I hate all conservatives” straw man! For a really thoughtful
        take on the red/blue gulf (I think it’s very real, and from your
        broad-strokes post I’d venture to say you’re a part of the problem),
        take a half-hour to read
        For reasons why the /NRA/ specifically is an evil organization, see my
        response to Yangreen below.

        Re: Not Treading On You — Progressivism is only “restrictive” in that it often points out (literal or figurative) market externalities and advocates society’s ability to replace the law of the jungle with self-regulation. By “law of the jungle” as it relates to our topic, I’m referring to, for example: aggressor-friendly “stand your ground” laws; a national policy that basically amounts to “hoard whatever size arsenal you please, because it’s absolutely not anyone else’s place to tell you what to do until after you predictably shoot your neighbor / storm the White House / leave your gun lying around and then act surprised when your child uses it on his friend / etc.”; and many more.

    • yangreen

      Honestly would like to understand your reasoning for this opinion. What makes them evil? Have they been implicated in causing any violence or accidents? I am mostly aware of them for their legislative and educational efforts. I agree they’re a lobbying organization, but there’s nothing inherently evil about lobbying – is there? Is it guns that are evil? If so, is our independence from evil that was obtained through guns somehow evil or based on an evil event?

      • ethanjrt

        Lobbying is not evil. Believing that Americans are better off with looser gun laws in the face of a preponderance of evidence is ignorant, but not evil. Willful ignorance — e.g., seeking facts/”facts” to back up a conclusion instead of the other way around — is wrong but may not rise to the level of evil. Trading society’s safety for personal convenience is in a similar category.

        What makes the NRA, in my mind, a truly evil organization is the fact that its leaders knowingly perpetuate a disastrous system — a system that leads to 30,000 gun deaths a year and makes us the shame and indeed the tragedy of the developed world — for financial gain. They peddle fear for profit — because fear sells life memberships — and continue to do so despite the growing number of radicalized cop/civilian killers that process has obviously produced. They run an information war machine that twists and ignores facts, selectively culls statistics, and outright lies to anyone who will listen in order to create an alternate reality where the facts fit their conclusions. The NRA promotes a very simple philosophy — the more weapons in American households, the better — because (via advertising, intermingling management, etc.) they have a huge stake in the success of the gun manufacturing industry; they are, in effect, its unofficial lobbyists, splitting the role with the Newtown based-but-none-the-wiser NSSF.

        40 years ago, the NRA was dedicated to education. But it’s changed, a change that has been documented in a series of reports by CT’s own Chris Murphy, and in more readable format by Everytown (http://everytown.org/documents/2014/10/not-your-grandparents-nra.pdf). If you just want to get a little taste for the kind of organization it’s become, check out what someone aptly described as a “Nixonian Enemies List,” published in 2012 and later scrubbed from the web. (Thank god for archive.org.) https://web.archive.org/web/20130202064057/http://nraila.org/Issues/FactSheets/Read.aspx?ID=15. (In that vein, because if you don’t laugh then you might cry, this is a pretty good mashup of the fearmongering side of the business: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hd73D44L6cM.)

        I could go on, but there are sources out there that have collected a lot more information than I could possibly pull together in one online commenting marathon. One of these days I’ll put together a comprehensive reading list, but for now, check out http://www.stopthenra.com to start.

        • yangreen

          I’m all for tough gun laws that will have a positive effect on society. I don’t know of anybody who supports the NRA because of fear, except maybe the fear of people who are ignorant of the realities of firearms passing legislation which has no positive effect on crime. Thanks for your response.

  • ShadrachSmith

    Some thoughts on the subject.
    The 2nd Amendment is progressive legislation.
    Weapons training changes who you are.
    God made man, but Samuel Colt made ’em equal.
    New York bans gun ownership for 34,500 citizens without due process.
    When bad people break into your house, do you really want to be standing there with nothing but your good intentions in your hand?

  • tom2

    Eleven!! Magnificent turnout. It’s Yale for goodness sake.

  • Goldie ’08

    I would have attended. I’m a sucker for free hats.

  • Tombstone Gabby

    Of the 11, “most identified themselves as “shooters” — in other words, firearm users.” and “Both she (Becca Ellison) and Barragan agreed that a better understanding of firearms and their use would be key in creating productive legislation moving forward.”
    It would seem that a significant number of students already ‘know’ all the facts about both sides of the discussion on “crime control” and “gun control” – which are not necessarily the same thing. There should have been hundreds of attendees, asking questions, challenging the speaker for sensible coherent answers. Get the facts!
    The old expression of “Know your enemy” still holds good. Learn what your adversary thinks, and why he thinks that way. Ignoring opposing viewpoints is not productive.

  • ronalddweddlemd

    Shameful to see that there is such ignorance of facts and truth regarding the Second Amendment and the NRA on an Ivy League campus. Shameful, but not surprising. Progressives (liberals) exist in their own bubble of imagined truths.

  • Luke

    Considering the number of Yalies that are breathlessly waiting the second coming of Pol Pot as the salvation of the world, I think eleven is a damn fine turn out.

  • SPKorn

    Protection of liberty is a noble cause…and that explains the NRA.

    Ivy Leaguers may have other options for protection of themselves and their families, or may take their security for granted. But not everyone has that option.

    For me, I take security and liberty seriously.

    The Founding Fathers knew what they were doing. And the Second Amendment also exists to protect people from their government too. Based on traveling globally, that’s a uniquely American value.