Whether you're a National Rifle Association supporter or are fundamentally opposed to the group, it's hard to deny its role in reshaping the national debate on guns, says PBS’s Frontline. as recently as 2008, fewer than 4 in 10 Americans prioritized gun rights over gun control in polling by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. Today, Pew data shows that a majority favors gun rights, the first time that's happened in more than 20 years. Driving that shift has been a wildly effective NRA political operation in Washington, D.C. and state capitals, backed by a passionate member base that numbers into the millions.
Frontline spoke to three former insiders: former NRA spokesman John Aquilino, former executive Warren Cassidy, and former lobbyist Richard Feldman. Aquilino says the Second Amendment “really has nothing to do with guns; it has to do with freedom. It has to do with, again, do you give your freedom to the government or do you keep it within yourself, within your community, within your family? And that's the broad appeal.” After mass shootings, says Feldman, “Instead of talking about the gun, why aren't we talking about how the individual obtained the gun, what can we do about their not getting the gun, and changing that discussion, and zeroing in on the problem…”