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The NRA Has a Secret Weapon to Fight Gun Control: A Powerful App

The app is so effective at connecting the NRA’s members with lawmakers, even Democrats are jealous.
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Trump Says It's Time for a President to 'Step Up' on Guns

The push for new gun-control measures following the Parkland, Fla., shooting that killed 17 people is high-profile and public: Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have blanketed the airwaves, spurred nationwide student walkouts, and featured prominently in a CNN town hall meeting grilling Florida’s pro-gun Senator Marco Rubio. The grass-roots effort to blunt this momentum by the National Rifle Association’s lobbying arm has been much quieter—and conducted largely out of sight, through a mobile app.

As lawmakers return to Washington this week under pressure to act on guns, the NRA is directing members’ activism at the audience that matters most: Congress. Republican congressional leaders have had little to say; the NRA hasn’t sponsored marches or rallies. But in mid-February the mobile app of the NRA’s Institute of Legislative Action urged users to send pre-written tweets that automatically route to their individual members of Congress, telling them to “Protect our constitutional right to self-defense; Defend the #2A! #DefendTheSecond.”