Gun Owners of America and the origins of No Compromise In Episode 5: We're reminded that this country's relationship with guns has always been about race. So we trace the history of the No Compromise movement back to a meeting of white nationalists in Colorado in the early 1990s.

The Original No Compromisers

The Original No Compromisers

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A 1992 meeting in Estes Park, Colorado, organized by Christian Identity Pastor Pete Peters, was recorded on cassette tapes. Chris Haxel for NPR hide caption

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Chris Haxel for NPR

A 1992 meeting in Estes Park, Colorado, organized by Christian Identity Pastor Pete Peters, was recorded on cassette tapes.

Chris Haxel for NPR

If you search for the beginnings of the no-compromise gun rights movement, you won't find it with the Dorr brothers. It predates the groups they've created in Iowa, Missouri, Georgia or anywhere else. It predates Facebook, in fact, and is even older than some of the Dorr brothers themselves.

You'd want to start your search in the late 1960s, with a group of armed Black Panther members who gathered at the California state Capitol for a protest.

This protest led then-Gov. Ronald Reagan to declare: "There is absolutely no reason why, out on the street today, a civilian should be carrying a loaded weapon." The Panthers' armed demonstrations, along with the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, spurred a wave of new gun regulations that culminated in the Gun Control Act of 1968.

Many of the Christian Reconstructionist men featured in previous episodes of this podcast opposed these new restrictions on guns. And in 1975, when California lawmakers tried to ban handguns, one of these Christian Reconstructionists started what became the original no-compromise gun rights organization: Gun Owners of America.

Podcast hosts Lisa Hagen of WABE in Atlanta, Ga. and Chris Haxel of KCUR in Kansas City, Mo. trace this history of the movement, and it leads them to a gathering of men in 1992. This meeting, at a YMCA in Estes Park, Colo., was called in response to the deadly standoff between right-wing fundamentalists and the federal government at Ruby Ridge, Idaho. Some scholars of extremism argue the Colorado gathering marked the birth of the modern militia movement.

The meeting was attended by some of the soon-to-be founders of those militia groups, along with old line klansmen, leaders of the neo-Nazi Aryan Nations, and Larry Pratt, the executive director of Gun Owners of America.

Decades later, Pratt advocates and appears alongside the Dorr brothers in live videos and photos. Their closeness begged one of the central questions that Hagen and Haxel have been trying to answer all along: What drives the No Compromise movement? Is it just guns? Is it religion? Money?

Or is it something else?

We've seen that the Dorrs are comfortable playing with racist stereotypes, calling Black Lives Matter activists "vile criminals" and "thugs." Many of their Facebook commenters are comfortable going even further. And we know the Dorrs were heavily influenced by Christian Reconstructionists who were also slavery apologists and condemned interracial marriage – men who opposed the civil rights movement and resisted the idea that black people and women are the equals of white men.

This week, we look at the intersection of racism and the no-compromise gun rights movement.