The NRA is not only a constituent part of the Republican Party. It is in some ways a microcosm of it. Its demographics: an aging, male, non-urban, racially anxious, white base. Its policy prescriptions: outlier positions unsupported by science. Its politics: defensive and bitterly opposed to compromise.
Like the GOP, which dominates state governments and has reached peak numbers in Congress, the National Rifle Association appears to be at the height of its considerable powers. It is well funded, professionally staffed and deeply entrenched in U.S. politics, having fully hitched a major political party to its single cause.
NRA ideology is popular, often intuitive and packaged in easily digested talking points and aphorisms -- "good guy with a gun," "if guns are outlawed ..." -- that are widely repeated by millions of gun enthusiasts.
The group has been racking up victories in conservative states that have adopted wholesale the movement creed that guns on campus, in bars, at church, in cars -- guns everywhere -- constitutes both a rational public policy and an extension of liberty.