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WASHINGTON, D.C. (CNN) – The National Rifle Association marks 150 years in the nation’s capital Thursday and finds a president who supports its mission of defending the US Constitution.
On July 18, 1871, the NRA, founded by a gun-owning group of outdoor enthusiasts in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, officially launched as a private, not-for-profit organization.
The lobby, known today as “the world’s largest gun-rights organization,” marks its most recent anniversary in the nation’s capital, where it maintains its roots in the nation’s Founding Fathers and the Bible.
Here are five facts you need to know about the NRA:
1. NRA alumni
1. NRA alumni
According to a study by the Washington Post, there are 4.8 million NRA-endorsed firearms enthusiasts who have been active members since joining the NRA in 1968. A spokesperson for the NRA told CNN that membership has increased by more than 50% since the 2016 election.
2. “Guardians of the Second Amendment”
According to the NRA, founding father and defender of the Second Amendment Thomas Jefferson was a huge supporter of the organization and founded its headquarters in Pennsylvania.
“While President Jefferson was a proud representative of the Pennsylvania militia, he was equally proud to stand in support of the Founding Fathers’ right to keep and bear arms, and defend it through its original wording, its protection of religious liberty, and its safeguarding of life,” reads the NRA’s Mission Statement.
3. “Aguas Calientes”
Founded by gun lobby leader Philip B. LaPierre in 1990, “Aguas Calientes” — Spanish for “Ready to Fight” — is the NRA’s signature ad that runs during all of its events and during the course of each year. The ad, which played in last year’s Super Bowl, depicts a man brandishing his weapon and asking viewers to imagine he’s seen an “invasion.”
“It all began with the famous ‘waving and running’ scene from Die Hard — how the Founding Fathers said that when Americans fight back, nobody can shoot them,” read the ad’s script.
4. Trump’s brand
President Donald Trump has stumped for gun rights and given support to the NRA.
Before Trump’s inauguration, the president touted the NRA’s endorsed candidates, including Vice President Mike Pence and former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who is now Attorney General.
“And I have to tell you that I support the NRA 100% — more than I even said during the campaign,” Trump said in a speech at the NRA’s annual convention last year.
5. From Pittsburg to DC
The NRA, according to the Post, was founded in 1865 in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, where a group of gun-owning outdoor enthusiasts became concerned that the Union was moving toward confiscation of firearms, despite the repeal of the 18th Amendment prohibiting the manufacture, sale and possession of firearms.
A dozen Pittsburgans, however, made a different move: They formed a gun-owners’ group and wrote to their congressman that they thought more guns were needed. Their letter was read to a rapt audience in a library in Pittsburg the following day and they worked to build the support of other gun owners for the next year.
It was in that same year the newspaper Washington Life launched its editorial page titled “The National Security.” The publication, which now appears in its original form, endorsed the NRA on its 150th anniversary.
“We are witnessing a revolution in the preservation of a certain type of American liberty, guaranteed by the American people in their Bill of Rights,” the editorial reads. “It is a revolution bringing guns into the national defense.”
In a Washington Life editorial the following week, however, the paper supported a city handgun ban, arguing that any gun regulation was unconstitutional.