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Bass Pro Opens NRA Museum of Historic American Guns

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Bass Pro Shops and the National Rifle Association have teamed up for a new, permanent exhibit in Springfield. It opens today.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Bass Pro Shops and the National Rifle Association have teamed up for a new, permanent exhibit in Springfield.
It's called the NRA Sporting Arms Museum.  And you don't have to like guns to love the history.

"We traced these firearms from the very earliest ones," says Jim Supica, the Director of NRA Museums, "that came over with the conquistadors, the original explorers, the very earliest settlers."

The NRA National Sporting Arms Museum is a showcase. Nearly one thousand guns, dating back hundreds of years. "Here we see a matchlock from the 1600's."

Each item, historically significant. "The most recent thing that came in about a week ago, is Alexander Hamilton's powder horn," says Supica. "And for me that was a goosebump artifact. I still get goosebumps when something like that comes in that is a tangible piece of history. And this museum is so rich in that. We've got Napoleon's double barrel shotgun for crying out loud. "

The 7,500 square foot museum was nearly a decade in the making. Bass Pro Shops built the space. The NRA brought the guns. Lots and lots of guns. Big guns. Famous guns. Infamous guns. And presidential guns.

"These are presidential shoguns," says Supica.  "This is Eisenhower's shotgun, you can see the five stars on the bottom there. This is one of Theodore Roosevelt's double rifles. There is the presidential seal on both chambers, there is the bull moose engraved on the side plate. That was his nightstand gun while he was in the White House."
Reporter: "You think you need a nightstand gun in the White House?"   "Well," says Supica, "Roosevelt was that type of guy."

Turns out, this is a gun museum that really isn't about guns.  It's about us. Our story as Americans.
"And that's my favorite thing about these firearms," says Supica. "It's the history that's behind them."

The museum opens to the public this morning at 10:00 a.m.  It's free, and it's open every day of the week.

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