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Anti-Government Sentiment Fuels NRA Push

Anti-Washington anger is in the air, and the National Rifle Association hopes to tap into it.

At the NRA's annual meeting in Charlotte, N.C., over the weekend, NRA members made clear that it is President Obama who is driving a recent demand for guns.

"He's been a very good gun salesman. People have been going out and buying guns and ammunition -- people who've never even owned one before -- because they figure under his administration, there's going to be the confiscation problem or problem buying guns," says NRA member Budd Schroeder.


In the months following the 2008 election, the number of people getting background checks in order to buy a gun hit an all-time high. Ammunition for a popular semi-automatic pistol has been all but impossible to find in stores for more than a year. And yet the gun bans and ammunition taxes have not materialized. All the while, the president has continued to say he is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, and even signed a law allowing people to carry guns in national parks.

But NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre believes there's trouble ahead.

"I tell firearms owners and Second Amendment supporters to stay ready. The fact is his administration is stacked full of people that have spent a lifetime attacking the Second Amendment, and I believe there are storm clouds on the horizon, and 'stay ready' is the word," LaPierre says.

In a hotel ballroom away from the bustle of the gun and gear exhibits, about a hundred NRA members have gathered for a workshop on political organizing.

A lot of NRA members say this election will be their first foray into political activism. John Nahas says he's never done more than vote. Then the health care overhaul bill passed. Though it had nothing to do with gun rights, he saw it as proof that Congress was willing to trample on his individual rights.


"I was even more enraged by the way it was done, and knowing that the will of the people was not -- as far as I'm concerned -- was not taken into consideration," Nahas says.

He says he's inspired by the Tea Party movement, too, which strikes a chord with many NRA members because of its emphasis on personal freedoms and protecting the Constitution. And gun owner Eric Schroeder says it doesn't matter that Congress and the Obama administration haven't directly attacked the Second Amendment recently: Their handling of health care and the economy is enough.

"Absolutely, I like to think of it as what they've done is they've opened up a big can of worms. And there's gonna be no way they can close it because they've already gone over the 51 percent tipping point with most people's opinion," Schroeder says. "They don't like what's happening, and now they're getting active to say, 'We'd like to see this stop.' "

The NRA does have a powerful voice. It's got more than 4 million members it hopes to mobilize at primaries Tuesday and in November.

Julie Rose reports for member station WFAE

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