The risk of daring to disagree with the NRA

By Samuel Burke, CNN

Tennessee lawmaker Debra Maggart was a lifetime member of America’s most powerful gun lobby, the National Riffle Association.

She had an A+ rating with the group and even supported allowing guns in bars.

But when Maggart decided not to back a bill allowing guns in cars – even on properties where the owners did not want guns- the NRA turned against her.

The group did everything in its power to ensure her election defeat.

They succeeded.

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“We tried to work out a compromise,” she told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour Wednesday, “after that they came after me because I was the caucus leader and I was the only person in leadership who had a primary.”

Maggart said the NRA poured money into her small district, attacking her from every angle. She says they created a “Defeat Maggart” website, and used billboards, robocalls, radio ads, YouTube videos and 12 full-page newspaper ads to drive her from office.

“They convinced the people where I am from that I was for all these things and that I was actually going to put your family in danger because of this bill.”

They changed her rating on gun legislation from an A+ to a D.

Maggart believes the NRA’s aggression actually boils down to money.

“They create phantom issues in order for people to write them a duty check. I am convinced of that. They frighten people and they have to have a bad guy.”

Maggart never thought she would become the bad guy.

“I was surprised because I had always been supportive of gun legislation. I am a pro-Second Amendment person,” she told Amanpour. “I had a great record on promoting the Second Amendment, but that didn’t matter to them”

The NRA on Tuesday made its first statement since the Sandy Hook massacre, saying it is prepared to “offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again.”

Maggart is doubtful and had some words of advice for policy makers: “If you are a lawmaker you have to be able to sit down and have a grown up conversation about these things and not be afraid of them using bullying tactics, like they did on me – Using fear and intimidation to stifle the discussion. And that’s what they have done.”

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