The 47,000 gun-loving Americans who attended the 138th National Rifle Association in Phoenix last weekend bore the hopes of many disgruntled, mostly white Americans who seek to check what they see as Washington’s liberal trajectory, says the Christian Science Monitor. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), potential Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, and GOP chairman Michael Steele all spoke at the NRA. Membership is booming, gun registrations are skyrocketing, and ammunition stores are back-ordered by the millions.
This success is giving the NRA significant clout in an electorate polarized by issues ranging from gun control to government bailouts. “This is armed conservatism, backing political beliefs with guns, and I think that’s the key of its emotional appeal,” says Joan Burbick, author of “Gun Show Nation: Gun Culture and American Democracy.” “The gun has become the symbol of the conservative vision of freedom.” NRA leaders were keen to lay out in stark terms the threat they see in the Obama administration. Gun owners face “the slickest, most aggressive anti-gun White House in history,” said CEO Wayne LaPierre. Other NRA brass predict that the Second Amendment could be repealed within the next five years.