With National Police Week this month, I would like to shine a spotlight on the NRA’s long history of supporting law enforcement officers. Over the past year, our country’s brave men and women in law enforcement have dealt with large-scale civil unrest and long hours. A pervasive anti-police rhetoric has permeated the cultural air and some even advocate for “defunding” the police. Here at NRA Headquarters, every day we proudly fly the “Thin Blue Line” flag to showcase our unwavering support for law enforcement officers of every background.
Similar to U.S. Army marksmanship before 1870, in the early 20th century, police officers’ ability to shoot accurately was taken for granted. With NRA’s growing emphasis on police training programs, then-NRA-President James Drain suggested the organization schedule its first police revolver match at the 1910 National Matches. Held in August, it was won by the Chicago Police Department. Though this tournament attracted a limited number of entries, it was only a first step. By the 1920s, police competitions were an annual event at the National Matches.
In 1960, with the formation of its Law Enforcement Division, the NRA became a valuable resource providing law enforcement-specific training for instructors. After training, instructors go on to train law enforcement officers in their home districts. There are more than 59,000 instructors that have been trained by NRA Law Enforcement programs, and of those trained, 13,000 instructors are currently active.
A variety of special benefits for law enforcement officers are offered to NRA members and their families. One is automatic: the NRA offers a $35,000 insurance benefit to the next of kin for any officer killed in the line of duty who was an active NRA member at the time of their passing. In addition, NRA has provided scholarships for the children or dependents of current or retired officers who are active members, and the dependents and children of officers killed in the line of duty who were active members at the time of their passing.
Each year, NRA’s Law Enforcement Division sanctions over 800 Police Pistol Combat (PPC) tournaments conducted across the country. Participation in these matches provides law enforcement officers with a competitive program geared toward improving their firearms skills and abilities. In addition, the NRA Tactical Police Competition (TPC) program encourages patrol officers to gain more experience, training and time on the range using their duty firearms.
The annual NRA National Police Shooting Championships (NPSC) are open to law enforcement professionals from all over the world. First held in 1962, NPSC was designed to encourage law enforcement professionals to practice and enhance their firearms skills via competition. By using NRA-standardized law enforcement courses of fire, officers can assess their skill levels while departments evaluate the effectiveness of their training programs in practice. The 2021 NPSC are tentatively scheduled for Sept. 20-22 at the Mississippi Highway Patrol Range Facility in Pearl, Miss.
But NRA’s support of law enforcement doesn’t end there. Through the NRA Foundation, grants are awarded to police and sheriff departments across the country. While a radical element of our society works to “defund,” NRA aims to provide resources so officers can do their jobs. These grants, funded by the generous support of NRA members and like-minded friends, total tens of thousands of dollars annually to help strained agency budgets by funding patrol firearms, ammunition, training equipment, hearing protection, and communication systems.
As illustrated, NRA has a lengthy resume of supporting the men and women of law enforcement. It is also important to note that a number of active and retired law enforcement officers serve on our NRA Board of Directors. Their expertise, along with the support of many retired officers working at NRA Headquarters, ensures that our association continues to stand with the brave public servants who wear a badge, carry a gun, and don the uniform of law and order. We have done so in the past, and will continue to do so over the next 150 years and beyond. From speaking with law enforcement almost every day, I know they appreciate the support they receive from NRA members like you.
Learn more about NRA Law Enforcement programs at le.nra.org.