First thing you have to know is that in 1968, the NRA wasn't a "political" organization (and hadn't been one since it started in 1871). The majority of "RKBA" activism started after 1968 (the 1977 NRA Convention was the start). The gun magazines (especially GUNS) had articles on gun rights and RKBA issues, but there was not national RKBA movement.
So let's look at a history of NRA "compromise".
This was the first real attack on general gun ownership at the national level. There had been Federal pistol registration schemes, etc. floated in the 1930s, 40s and 50s, but they went nowhere.
Then came three high profile assassinations.
Oswald killed JFK with a mail-order surplus Mannlicher-Carcano.
James Earl Ray, a convicted felon, killed MLK with a Remington 760 he bought over the counter in Alabama (no restrictions then)
Then Sirhan-Sirhan, a non-citizen, killed RFK with a .22 Iver-Johnson Cadet revolver he bought over-the-counter (no restrictions then).
Who compromised? The gun manufacturers wanted GCA '68 to control the market place and threw all their weight behind it. The manufacturers wanted mail-order sales of guns and ammunition stopped. They wanted "sporting purposes" to keep out cheap imported surplus arms and ammo.
And Congress passed it. At the time, the NRA was not political because it's overall membership wasn't politically active (1977 NRA Convention changed that - Cincinnati Revolution - ever hear of it?).
A Democratically-controlled Congress elected by majority of Americans with a Democratic President elected by a majority of Americans- and on the heels of 3 high-profile assassinations. There wasn't any "compromise'. It got jammed down our throats by the MAJORITY.
The NRA had been fighting for almost 10 years to reform the GCA '68 (see David T. Hardy's excellent article here) . No one on the RKBA-side ever mentioned machine-guns or throwing machine-gun ownership under the bus to get the rest of FOPA.
The reason it took so long is that there was no compromise on reforming GCA '68. We understood getting it repealed was the optimum but there just weren't the votes to do it.
To get FOPA passed it took a number of RKBA Democrats working with RKBA Republicans in an overall indifferent / anti-RKBA House and Senate.
Hughes (the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Crime) and Rangel (who was holding the gavel that night as presiding officer of the House) shafted machine gun owners in the middle of the night. Rangel "deemed it passed" despite a very clear voice vote where the Hughes Amendment was out voted and he refused to allow a recorded vote.
That amendment was one of a flurry of "poison pill" amendments Hughes threw at the bill in the last moments in order to try and defeat it.
The NRA didn't endorse the Hughes Amendment, didn't support it, didn't "compromise" for it. Hughes, a very powerful Chairman, and Rangel, holding the gavel, did it.
Democratic majority in the House and Senate elected by a majority of Americans. No Democratic Congressman or Senator gave a *censored* about 0.015% of gun owners to take it out in a Democratically-controlled conference committee (cold truth).
Rammed down our throats by a MAJORITY.
It took the DEMOCRATS seven years to pass it (1987-1994). The NRA fought it tooth and nail for SEVEN years. Then it got passed by a Democratically-controlled House and Senate elected by a MAJORITY of Americans in February 1994.
They rammed it down our throats and gave us a bone. We didn't give up. We didn't compromise. THE MAJORITY RAMMED DOWN OUR THROAT.
After the Brady Act was originally proposed in 1987, the National Rifle Association (NRA) mobilized to defeat the legislation, spending millions of dollars in the process. While the bill eventually did pass in both chambers of the United States Congress, the NRA was able to win an important concession: the final version of the legislation provided that, in 1998, the five-day waiting period for handgun sales would be replaced by an instant computerized background check that involved no waiting periods.
The NRA then funded lawsuits in Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Texas, Vermont and Wyoming that sought to strike down the Brady Act as unconstitutional. These cases wound their way through the courts, eventually leading the U.S. Supreme Court to review the Brady Act in the case of Printz v. United States.
In Printz, the NRA argued that the Brady Act was unconstitutional because its provisions requiring local law enforcement officers to conduct background checks was a violation of the 10th Amendment to the Constitution (Brief Amicus Curiae of the National Rifle Association of America in Support of Petitioners, Printz v. United States, 521 U.S. 898, 1997). Based on these grounds, the NRA told the Court "the whole Statute must be voided."
In its 1997 decision in the case, the Supreme Court ruled that the provision of the Brady Act that compelled state and local law enforcement officials to perform the background checks was unconstitutional on 10th amendment grounds. The Court determined that this provision violated both the concept of federalism and that of the unitary executive. However, the overall Brady statute was upheld and state and local law enforcement officials remained free to conduct background checks if they so chose. The vast majority continued to do so. In 1998, background checks for firearm purchases became mostly a federally run activity when NICS came online, although many states continue to mandate state run background checks before a gun dealer may transfer a firearm to a buyer.
Oh yes, the NRA tried to overturn the whole damn thing through the courts and narrowly LOST in the SCOTUS.
No, the NRA didn't fight or ask or compromise for more big government (NICS), that's what the SCOTUS did.
1994-2004 Assault Weapons Ban
No damn compromise there either. We LOST. The NRA fought it from the minute it was proposed. There was the Stockon Schoolyard Massacre that galvanized the anti-RKBA movement and they were emboldened by what they saw as an NRA defeat in February 1994 with the Brady Bill. The liberal media showed machine guns firing and told people they were AR-15s. The NRA was portrayed as hard-line gun-nut extremists more interested in their 'assault weapons' than the lives of children.
And there was Waco. 'Assault weapons' were tied to 'anti-government' and 'religious cult' kooks. More people believed "Shaky" Reno than questioned the raid.
A full-court press was made by the anti-RKBA movement to separate "sporting guns" from 'assault weapons'. While people owned modern sporting rifles, it was associated with survivalists and gun kooks.
The NRA did fight. There was no compromise. NRA members were exhausted from the seven year Brady fight and many people listened to the spew from the media and the liberals that the "NRA is dead".
A Democratically-controlled House and a Democratically-controlled Senate and a Democratic President elected by a MAJORITY of Americans rammed that down our throatThey threw us a bone with the sunset clause because they figured the NRA was toothless and beaten and they'd ram it down our throats AGAIN in 2004.
But the NRA and the American people voted out the Democratic majority in the Fall 1994 mid-term elections.
So where is this compromise?