NRA Leaders


Member Profile

Harlon Carter

Former NRA Executive Vice President, Board Member

Harlon Carter

Former NRA Executive Vice President, Board Member


Harlon Carter joined the National Rifle Association at age 16 in 1930. In 1951, he joined the NRA Board of Directors and quickly rose through the ranks of the organization, serving as vice president between 1963 and 1965 and president from 1965 to 1967. After leaving the NRA presidency, Carter was appointed to a lifetime position on the NRA Executive Council. Contemporaneously with his work in NRA leadership, Carter was an employee of U.S. Border Patrol and became the head of that organization in 1950. He also worked as the commissioner of the Southwest Region for the Immigration and Naturalization Service during the 1960s. In 1975, Carter became the leader of the newly created NRA Institute of Legislative Action and is widely considered to be the leader of a movement to turn the National Rifle Association into a right-wing political organization, as opposed to an organization largely focused on hunting as it had been in the past. During the NRA’s annual convention in Cincinnati in 1977, Carter led a coup against the “Old Guard,” hunting-focused NRA leadership and took control of the organization as its executive vice president. This seizure of power is commonly referred to as the “Cincinnati Revolution.” From that point forward, the NRA adopted a hard-line, uncompromising political stance, with a focus on rolling back existing gun laws and promoting an “individual rights” interpretation of the Second Amendment.

All Statements (4 total)

Statements by Category (4 total)

  • Criminal Activity

    On March 3, 1931, in Laredo, Texas, Carter, who was 17, shot and killed 15-year-old Ramón Casiano. After returning home from school that day, Carter was told by his mother that there were three Hispanic youths loitering near their family’s property. Carter left his house, shotgun in tow, to confront the alleged loiterers. After finding Casiano and his two companions, Carter pointed his shotgun at them and ordered them to come with him. Casiano refused and pulled out a knife and asked Carter if he would like to fight. Carter then pointed the shotgun at Casiano’s chest. Casiano pushed the gun aside and asked Carter not to shoot while taking a step back. He was then shot and killed. Carter claimed self-defense, but the presiding judge instructed the jury, “There is no evidence that defendant had any lawful authority to require deceased to go to his house for questioning, and if defendant was trying to make deceased go there for that purpose at the time of the killing, he was acting without authority of law, and the law of self-defense does not apply.” Carter was convicted of murder without malice aforethought (a crime similar to second-degree murder) and sentenced to three years in prison. Subsequently, Carter successfully appealed his conviction with the appeals court, holding that the trial court failed “to submit to the jury appropriate instructions upon the law of self-defense.” When the shooting incident was reported in media in 1981, Carter initially denied that he had killed Casiano before falsely claiming that the shooting took place on his property.

    Sources [1] [2] [3]

  • Other Statements

    In 1975, Carter was asked if he would “rather allow those convicted violent felons, mentally deranged people, violently addicted to narcotics people to have guns, rather than to have the screening process?” An opponent of the 1968 Gun Control Act—which created categories of prohibited firearms purchasers—Carter responded that arming dangerous individuals was “a price we pay for freedom.”

    Sources [1] [2]

  • Political Corruption

    In 1973, federal agents investigated Carter concerning his former employment with the Immigration and Naturalization Service after 40,000 to 50,000 rounds of government ammunition were reported missing. He was called before a grand jury to testify about the matter, but charges were never filed.

    Sources [1]

  • Lobbying Activity

    Sources [1] [2]