The NRA Civil Rights Defense Fund is sponsoring an essay contest for students in the United States celebrating the Second Amendment as an integral part of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

The theme for the essay is: "The Second Amendment to the Constitution: Why it is important to our nation." The contest is open to all students enrolled in an elementary, junior high, or high school during the 2007-08 academic year who have not previously received a prize.

Essays will be judged in two categories: senior (grades 10-12) and junior (grades nine and below), with separate prizes awarded to the winners in each category. First prizes are $1,000 in U.S. savings bonds; second prizes, $600 in savings bonds; third prizes, $200 in savings bonds; and honorable mentions, $100 in savings bonds.

The entry deadline is Dec. 1. Essay contest winners will be selected by the NRA fund and notified in early 2008. Winners will have their names published in "InSights," NRA's magazine for junior members.

All essays should be about 1,000 words in length and should be neat and legible (double-spaced, typed preferred), and include the student's name, age, address, telephone number, school and grade, and a statement from a teacher or parent saying that the paper is an original work. To request further information or a list of scholarly references to aid in research, contact Ryan Curley at 703-267-1269.

Mail entries to The NRA Civil Rights Defense Fund, c/o NRA Office of General Counsel, 11250 Waples Mill Road, Fairfax, VA 22030. For more information on the contest, call 703-267-1250.