Spurred on by President Obama's debate pledge to push for an assault weapons ban and possibly limits on handgun ownership, the National Rifle Association is ending the presidential campaign season with its most "targeted" election effort in its 141 years.
NRA officials told Secrets that they've expanded their campaign against Obama in some cases by over 500-times what the Second Amendment lobby did in the 2010 elections that brought the conservative Tea Party to Washington. An official said the effort was on par with what the NRA did in 2000 when George W. Bush edged Al Gore in the Electoral College in part because of an unexpected GOP swing in gun states.
While early into his administration Obama didn't seem a threat to gun-owners, thus making it difficult to assail the president on gun issues, the president over the past year has hinted support for restrictions and during a debate with GOP challenger Mitt Romney for the first time fully endorsed a renewed assault weapons ban and even raised the spectre of handgun controls.
That spurred a new round of online advertising by the NRA and increased efforts on the ground to warn gun owners that a second Obama term would see limits on weapons ownership and a potentially more liberal Supreme Court should Obama get another chance to appoint a justice.
NRA officials told Secrets that the group's lobbying arm, the powerful Institute for Legislative Action, has parked campaign field representatives in 13 battleground states since May where they are organizing the effort to defeat the president and anti-gun candidates.
So far, they have recruited 5,000 volunteers to make calls, walk precincts and make the NRAs case at gun shows, a key venue at the beginning of deer and goose season.
Among the key statistics from the NRA:
-- By Election Day, the NRA will have issued more than 50 million mailers, phone calls, and personal door-to-door visits, a 60 percent increase over 2010.
-- Online advertising will have totaled 320 million impressions on web pages opened by those surfing the internet, a 531 percent increase over 2010.
"This is our most focused, targeted and sophisticated effort to date," said a spokesman.