Bill Clinton famously attributed the Democrats losing the House of Representatives in 1994 to the passage of the Assault Weapons Ban. Equally famously, numerous pundits and organizations have "debunked" that assertion:
Indeed, as American Prospect contributing editor (and former Media Matters staffer) Paul Waldman has noted, an analysis of the impact of NRA endorsements during the 1994 election found that Republican challengers to Democratic incumbents received a 2-point boost from the endorsement; no other NRA endorsees received a benefit. Waldman points out that since only 9 NRA-endorsed challengers won by four points or fewer, "even if we were to attribute every last one of those nine victories to the NRA and assume that without the organization each race would have gone Democratic - an extremely generous assumption - the Republicans would still have gained 45 seats and won control of the House."Link
Now let me tell you why Clinton was probably right.
Much as the NRA would like you to believe otherwise (and to judge by the rhetoric here at DailyKos they have largely succeeded), that organization represents only a relatively small percentage of American gun owners. NRA membership, which has been growing recently (partially because of fears of gun control legislation and partly due to a membership drive) stands at around 4.25 million. According to Gallup about 30% of American adults report owning at least one gun, which would be about 90 million owners.
The NRA membership therefore represents about 5% of those owners, so drawing conclusions about the political effects of anything relating to guns by using the NRA as the measuring stick is bound to be misleading, at best. The NRA should be viewed NOT as representing American gun owners but merely one fringe of that population.
Getting back to where we started, trying to judge the political effects of the late AWB by analyzing a handful of races where the NRA endorsed a candidate inevitably vastly underrates those effects, because 95% of gun owners don't belong to the NRA to start with, but MANY of that 95% did in fact vote, and not just in races with NRA interest.
What I said 4 years ago still applies: Republicans in Charge are More Dangerous Than Guns