The other thing to remember about the NRA and its president, Wayne LaPierre, is that (as David S. Bernstein has pointed out) they’re not only advocates for the gun industry but also competitors in the conservative marketplace. In that respect, saying outrageous things and getting a reaction from liberals helps them generate revenue, whether or not it helps their legislative strategy. It’s not exactly the case that liberals could make the NRA a fringe group by treating it as one, but it’s probably true that treating it as a major factor helps make it more so.
Besides that: If any bill is going to pass, it’s going to need House Republicans. It’s possible, if unlikely, that enough constituent pressure could push them to choose modest new measures over not passing that legislation.But if the Republicans are forced to choose between liberal Democrats and the NRA, they’re going to choose the NRA, no matter what the public opinion polls say.
Of course, those who favor new measures against guns and gun violence will have to engage other arguments at times. But Greg’s right — it’s one thing to engage serious arguments and another to fall for bait just meant to distract everyone. The best strategy for liberals — and anyone else who wants to get something signed into law — is to just ignore the NRA for now.