The NRA made a comeback in part because of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act. The gun-control effort, named for White House press secretary James Brady, who was wounded in the 1981 assassination attempt on Reagan, called for a seven-day waiting period on gun purchases and a background check on the purchaser.
“What if there had been a Brady Bill 150 years ago? What if they had to wait seven days to get their rifles to come to the Alamo and fight?” an NRA vice president, Robert Corbin, shouted to loud applause at the annual meeting in 1991 in San Antonio, according to The Post’s account.
The membership once again shoved the NRA to the right, electing dissidents to the board, including the editor of Soldier of Fortune magazine. Among the new board members was a familiar face: Neal Knox. “What you’re seeing now is the NRA on the way back,” he said at the time.
The organization had a new executive vice president, as well, Wayne LaPierre, who knew the organization inside and out from years in the lobbying shop. LaPierre, then 41, had been a PhD student in political science at Boston University with political skills smooth enough to land a job offer after college with Tip O’Neill, the legendary liberal House speaker from Massachusetts.