Arulanandam said the NRA expects it will play plenty of defense. Already it is against a bill introduced last week by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.). Known as the No Fly, No Buy Act, the legislation would prohibit anyone on the no-fly list from purchasing a firearm.
Arulanandam said the NRA opposes the measure because innocent Americans have found themselves on the no-fly list and because terrorists could figure out if theyre being watched by seeing if they could purchase a firearm.
In fact, there were a number of prominent lawmakers, including Sen. Ted Kennedy, who were on the no-fly list, Arulanandam said. We think its wrong to deny someone a basic civil liberty, especially if that person is innocent.
The NRA, like its foes in the gun-control lobby, also expects a ban on semiautomatic weapons to resurface.
Case in point, the attorney general came out in support of the semiauto ban, Arulanandam said. Gun owners know that a threat to their freedom can happen at any moment.
In addition to the NRAs in-house team of about a dozen registered lobbyists including Chris Cox, the group retains well-connected bipartisan firms Ogilvy Government Relations and Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal.
Earlier this year, the NRA brought on the C2 Groups Jeff Murray, known for his ties to the fiscally conservative Democratic Blue Dog Coalition. Murray was chief of staff to then-Rep. Bud Cramer (D-Ala.).
In the first quarter of this year, the NRA reported spending $435,000 on federal lobbying on a long list of issues ranging from the D.C. voting rights bill to the national parks matter.
But despite its busy agenda and the huge recent boost in its membership, that dollar figure is similar to NRAs spending in recent years.
In the 2008 election cycle, the National Rifle Associations political action committee fired off slightly more than $1 million to federal candidates, with 78 percent going to Republicans and 22 percent to Democrats.
The NRAs PAC gave $663,000 to House GOPers and $225,000 to the chambers Democratic candidates, according to election data compiled by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.
The NRAs overall 2008 giving and its portion to Democrats increased slightly over 2006, when the group donated just less than $900,000 with 16 percent to Democrats and 84 percent to Republicans.
Helmke said that so far, this year has been a little bit of a last gasp for the NRAs clout. I think theyre sensing that their period of calling the shots is declining, he said.
But Arulanandam couldnt disagree more.
I think the only way I can respond to that and not be a smartass is to say, its been proven that it is bad politics to be on the wrong side of the Second Amendment, he said.
We have seen an increasing number of Democrats and Republicans campaign as pro-gun, Arulanandam said. Well continue to hold their feet to the fire. We believe if you campaign as pro-gun, you should vote pro-gun.