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Even After Newtown, the NRA's Power Is Undiminished

Even after Newtown, the lobbying group’s power is undiminished
A man carries a semiautomatic assault rifle he is trying to sell at the Rocky Mountain Gun Show in Sandy, Utah, on Jan. 5
A man carries a semiautomatic assault rifle he is trying to sell at the Rocky Mountain Gun Show in Sandy, Utah, on Jan. 5Photograph by George Frey/Bloomberg

What explains the National Rifle Association’s effectiveness in blocking gun-control legislation? That question has long plagued Democratic politicians and anti-gun activists. It reemerged after the Newtown massacre and will become more salient in late January, when President Obama unveils proposals he’s ordered up from Vice President Biden’s gun-control task force.

The answers are shockingly prosaic: The NRA wins because it’s popular with a broad swath of Americans, especially Republicans. It knows how to muscle politicians with perfectly legal, out-in-the-open, grass-roots campaigns.