The National Rifle Association of America (NRA) is an American nonprofit organization which advocates for gun rights. Founded in 1871, the group has informed its members about firearm-related bills since 1934, and it has directly lobbied for and against legislation since 1975. It is also the oldest continuously operating civil rights organization in the United States. Founded to advance rifle marksmanship, the modern NRA continues to teach firearm competency and safety. It instructs civilians and law enforcement, youths and adults, in various programs. The organization also publishes several magazines and sponsors competitive marksmanship events. Membership surpassed 5 million in May 2013. Observers and lawmakers see the NRA as one of the top three most influential lobbying groups in Washington. Over its history the organization has influenced legislation, participated in or initiated lawsuits, and endorsed or opposed various candidates.