Harlon B. Carter, 78, who helped turn the National Rifle Assn. into one of the nation’s most influential lobbying groups. He served as the NRA’s chief executive officer and executive vice president from 1977 to 1985. During that period, the organization’s membership grew from about 1 million to more than 3 million. Wayne R. LaPierre, NRA executive vice president, said Carter “was our champion and fiercest warrior.” Carter established 44 national shooting records for pistol, small bore and military rifle and was honored in 1977 as Outstanding American Handgunner of the Year. In Tucson, Ariz., on Tuesday of lung cancer.