| KANSAS CITY, Mo.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. Aug 3 The National Rifle
Association has opened an elaborate museum in the American
Midwest, displaying nearly 1,000 firearms, including those used
by French Emperor Napoleon and Hollywood cowboy star John Wayne,
along with subtle reminders of the campaign for the right to gun
The NRA National Sporting Arms Museum opened on Friday at a
sprawling Bass Pro Shops outdoor retail store in Springfield,
Missouri, a politically conservative central U.S. city that is a
gateway to the mountainous Ozarks region popular with tourist
Admission is free to the 7,500-square-foot
(697-square-metres) museum, which has detailed dioramas and
displays that were a decade in the planning stages, said NRA
"If you are a gun person, you are going to love this place,"
museum director Jim Supica says in an online video promoting the
museum as "one of the premier firearms museums in the world."
"These guns came from the NRA collection built over 80
years, but a lot came from special collections that haven't had
a place for display," Supica told Reuters in a telephone
The museum is opening as divisions over gun control have
widened after the massacre of elementary school children in
Newtown, Connecticut in December. President Barack Obama has
been rebuffed by Congress in his efforts to tighten gun laws,
and the NRA has staunchly opposed gun control.
Prominently featured in the museum are firearms used by
historical figures - an engraved shotgun presented by Napoleon
Bonaparte to a general in his army, guns from Missouri-born Old
West outlaw Jesse James and weapons used in Western movies by
tough-guy actors John Wayne and Clint Eastwood.
One of the dioramas shows President Theodore Roosevelt, an
outdoor enthusiast and avid hunter, on safari. Another depicts
explorers Lewis and Clark, who mapped the vast Louisiana
purchase, from St. Louis to the Pacific Coast, in the early
The museum incorporates reminders of the NRA mission - to
defend the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution setting out
the right to bear arms. One of the galleries, named "Second
Amendment" includes a copy of the wording in the amendment,
Marketing materials touting the museum say it "illustrates
themes of hunting, conservation and freedom."
But the museum is "not political," Supica said. It traces
the history of guns in America, from the Revolution against
British rule in the 18th century.
The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, whose aim is to
"enact and enforce sensible gun laws," did not respond to a call
and email for comment about the museum.
Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris, who started the
hunting and fishing gear business in the early 1970s by making
fishing lures, proposed the Missouri location after visiting the
NRA's National Firearms Museum in Fairfax, Virginia.
The Bass Pro store in Springfield has about four million
visitors annually and is one of the state's top tourist
destinations, said Tammy Sapp, Bass Pro spokeswoman.
Like other Bass Pro Shops around the country, the
Springfield store has fish and wildlife displays that recreate
natural habitats, as well as stuffed and mounted wildlife.
Springfield is the privately held retail chain's flagship store.
(Reporting by Kevin Murphy; Editing by Greg McCune and Gunna