Although the first votes on gun -control legislation have yet to be cast, by some measures the National Rifle Association has already won.
Obama’s ambitious plans to ban assault weapons and limit magazine capacities are off the table, while the NRA suggested it could support the most likely outcome — expanded background checks — as recently as 1999. The NRA claims that the president’s efforts have triggered a fundraising surge and boosted its membership from 4 million to nearly 5 million. Members of Congress who seemed open to legislation after the shooting deaths of 20 Connecticut schoolchildren are still on the fence, while Republicans are threatening a filibuster.
Perhaps a battle pitting one of the oldest and most aggressive lobbying organizations against President Obama’s fledgling advocacy shop wasn’t a fair fight.
Yet by other measures, the newly created Organizing for Action is persevering in the first major battle over gun control in two decades. By partnering with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s well-financed group, Organizing for Action is building the strongest gun-control coalition ever seen in this country. The group also has public opinion on its side, with one Quinnipiac University survey finding 91 percent of voters support background checks.
“It’s a fascinating battle in which both sides have different goals,” said former Democratic presidential candidate and Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who boasts of several NRA endorsements during his political career. “The NRA is clearly succeeding in cranking up their base and expanding it. Their game is as much about keeping themselves in business as it is…