Advertisement
  1. Florida Politics

PolitiFact: NRA founded 'to protect freed slaves' from Klan, black leader says

Published Jun. 8, 2013

The statement

The National Rifle Association was "founded by religious leaders who wanted to protect freed slaves from the Ku Klux Klan."

Harry Alford, president and CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, at a news conference

The ruling

Here's what the NRA says on its website about its founding:

Dismayed by the lack of marksmanship shown by their troops, Union veterans Col. William C. Church and Gen. George Wingate formed the National Rifle Association in 1871. The primary goal of the association would be to "promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis," according to a magazine editorial written by Church.

After being granted a charter by the state of New York on Nov. 17, 1871, the NRA was founded.

No mention of religious leaders, slaves or the KKK.

Brief histories of the NRA by the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post contain no such mentions, either. We called and emailed the NRA to inquire about Alford's claim, but the group offered no response.

Alford's wife, National Black Chamber of Commerce executive vice president Kay DeBow Alford, provided us three articles to back her husband's claim.

But none of them do.

1. PolicyMic.com: A January article notes that the NRA founders started the group because of the Union soldiers' poor marksmanship and it calls the NRA the oldest civil rights organization in the United States. No mention of religious leaders founding the NRA to protect freed slaves from the KKK.

2. Ann Coulter: In an April 2012 opinion column, the conservative author and commentator said that when civil rights leader Robert F. Williams returned home to Monroe, N.C., after serving in World War II, the Ku Klux Klan was "beating, lynching and murdering blacks at will."

In 1957, Williams got a charter from the NRA, founded the Black Armed Guard and repeatedly thwarted KKK attacks, Coulter wrote. She didn't say whether the NRA played a role in the guard's fighting the klan.

Again, no reference to religious leaders or slaves. And the fighting against the KKK, whether it involved the NRA or not, would have occurred more than 85 years after the NRA's founding.

3. Psychology professor's article: A January article by Warren Throckmorton of Grove City College in Grove City, Pa., not only doesn't support Alford's claim, it disputes it.

Throckmorton noted that the NRA's website makes no mention of the KKK or getting guns in the hands of newly freed slaves.

We can't say whether Alford was misinformed or intended to mislead. But his claim is inaccurate and ridiculous — Pants on Fire.

Edited for print. Read the full version at PolitiFact.com.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Vice President Mike Pence reacts during an immigration and naturalization ceremony in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House grounds, Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) ALEX BRANDON  |  AP
    Katie Waldman, a former University of Florida student senator, was accused of helping discard independent student newspapers with a front-page endorsement of a rival party’s candidate. | Analysis
  2. Richard Swearingen, Florida's Commissioner of the Department of Law Enforcement, testifies before state lawmakers on Monday. Florida Channel
    But law enforcement officials are getting behind a “threat assessment system.”
  3. Rep. Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando, urges the Florida Board of Education to hold schools accountable for teaching the Holocaust and African-American history, as required by lawmakers in 1994. The board was considering a rule on the matter at its Sept. 20, 2019, meeting in Jacksonville. The Florida Channel
    School districts will have to report how they are providing the instruction required in Florida law.
  4. The Mar-a-Lago Resort in Palm Beach. JOE RAEDLE  |  Getty Images
    It wasn’t immediately clear how much Mar-a-Lago would charge to host the Marine Corps Birthday Ball — or even if it might do so for free.
  5. In this March 24, 2018, file photo, crowds of people participate in the March for Our Lives rally in support of gun control in San Francisco. JOSH EDELSON  |  AP
    ‘Guns are always a volatile topic in the halls of the legislature,’ one Republican said.
  6. Pasco County school superintendent Kurt Browning says Fortify Florida, the new state-sponsored app that allows students to report potential threats, is "disrupting the education day" because the callers are anonymous, many of the tips are vague and there's no opportunity to get more information from tipsters. "I have an obligation to provide kids with a great education," Browning said. "I cannot do it with this tool, because kids are hiding behind Fortify Florida." JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |
    Vague and anonymous tips often waste law enforcement’s time and disrupt the school day, says Kurt Browning, president of Florida’s superintendents association.
  7. Tonight's LGBTQ Presidential Forum is hosted by Angelica Ross of FX's Pose. Twitter
    A live stream of the event and what to watch for as 10 candidates meet on stage in Iowa.
  8. In this April 11, 2018, file photo, a high school student uses a vaping device near a school campus in Cambridge, Mass.  [AP Photo | Steven Senne] STEVEN SENNE  |  AP
    "The department does not appear to have the authority to do anything.”
  9. Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos listens to a speaker share an opinion about a city matter during a city council meeting at Clearwater City Hall in Clearwater, Fla. on Thursday, April 20, 2017.  On Thursday, the Clearwater City Council rejected the mayor's resolution urging lawmakers to ban assault weapons.  [Times files] TIMES FILES  |  Tampa Bay Times
    However, the city did pass a resolution calling for more modest gun control measures.
  10. Maurice A. Ferré at his Miami home earlier this year. JOSE A. IGLESIAS  |  Miami Herald
    He served as mayor for 12 years and set the stage for Miami to become an international city.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement