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Why the NRA welcomes gun control fervor
(TIME.com) -- While this development may not represent the worst possible scenario for organizers of the recent Million Mom March, it probably comes pretty close: The National Rifle Association, reveling in the recent heated exchange over national gun legislation, has enjoyed an extraordinary surge in membership over the past six months, signing up more than 200,000 new faithful since last fall, according to organization spokespeople.
At this rate, analysts predict, Charlton Heston's flock could charge into the November elections 4 million strong -- a bloc made considerably more intimidating to Democrats (and Al Gore) by its fierce and single-minded dedication to one mission: Defeating the gun control lobby and ensuring victory for George W. Bush.
And the NRA's new energy could reach well beyond the political spectrum, right into the nation's gastrointestinal tract: The organization is reportedly bidding for a patch of prime real estate in New York's Times Square in which it plans to build a theme restaurant. The establishment, which has local Democratic politicos up in arms, would offer patrons the opportunity to hone their shooting skills while tucking into plates of quail and other game meats.
Gun control advocates, while they may cringe at the NRA's swelling ranks, can't be surprised by this turn of events. The highly publicized fervor of an opposition group has historically been among activists' most effective galvanizing tools.
In the early 1990s, for example, when the Supreme Court appeared poised to dismember Roe v. Wade, the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League was left staggering -- however briefly -- under the weight of donations from outraged, formerly apolitical pro-choice Americans. Ten years later, the Million Moms and other recent incarnations of gun control advocacy have performed a similar service for the NRA.
Copyright © 2000 Time Inc.
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