As part of the historical pendulum that swings between freedom and slavery, the right to bear arms is always under attack by elites seeking absolute power. In the twentieth century, this pendulum swung first in the direction to deprive the people of their rights, and later back in the opposite direction in favor of liberty—throughout this time, the National Rifle Association was there to protect the people’s liberty.

The fluctuations have occurred in essentially three stages. First came the National Firearms Act (NFA) of 1934, which proposed to ban handguns. The NRA defeated that egregious feature. Then came the Gun Control Act of 1968, which ran roughshod over traditional rights. The NRA was there to help defeat its most-insidious proposal of universal gun registration. Finally, came the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act of 1986, which the NRA shepherded to roll back restrictions in favor of regaining lost liberties.

The NFA, which is still on the books today, requires registration of machine guns, short-barreled shotguns and suppressors. A tax of $200 must be paid for the making or transfer thereof. In 1934, that was $3,904 in today’s dollars—the average annual income in 1934 was $1,368.