The National Rifle Association has become, more than ever, part and parcel of the Republican Party, reports Politico. The nonpartisan group's no-compromise strategy helped defeat the background check bill in the Senate last month and grow its membership ranks to 5 million. It has repelled many old Democratic allies and raised the hackles of liberal activists, which will make it harder for moderates to work with the NRA and pave the way for new gun control laws in blue states.
Fueling the shift is a Democratic Party that has become more liberal on guns. President Obama, emboldened by his reelection, is less afraid to tackle the issue than a generation chastened by losing the House after the assault weapons ban in 1994. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is spending money against Democrats in primaries who oppose gun control. The result is on display at this weekend's NRA annual meeting, where Democrats are glaringly absent from the roster of speakers. It wasn't always this way. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) got a standing ovation two years ago at the NRA convention in Pittsburgh. Former Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC) attended in 2010. Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) spoke in 2009.