Team 10 examines political influence of National Rifle Association

SAN DIEGO - For years, experts say politicians have been hesitant to challenge the powerful National Rifle Association over the issue of gun control.

Team 10's partners at the Scripps Howard News Service looked at the influence of the NRA in today's political landscape.

"A lot more is at play than one interest group," said 10News political analyst Carl Luna.

The report shows during the 2010 election, the success rate of NRA-backed candidates was 69.5 percent. This year, it was 19 percent.

For a complete look at the list compiled by OpenSecrets.org, click here

"The NRA has always used the threat that 'vote against us and you'll lose re-election' as its biggest club. That may be changing since the Democrats are doing better in the polls," said Luna.

Luna said the hands-off approach to avoid challenging the NRA stems back to 1994.

Congress passed a 10-year assault weapons ban and Democrats lost control of Congress two months later.

"They didn't just lose control because of the assault weapons ban, they lost control because they did some bad policies for years leading up to that," said Luna.

Luna believes the NRA may continue to lose clout because he said American politics, in general, tends to be more liberal progressive.

"That will work against the NRA in the next couple of election cycles," said Luna.

Still, local voters 10News spoke to believe the NRA is still highly influential.

"Even more so than ever, even with what's happening now. I don't know how much impact is on them, I'm sure there is a lot of pressure when they go back in session, but we are just going to have to wait and see," said San Diegan Anthony Rivera.

Some say politicians will continue to be hesitant to challenge the group with stricter laws.

"Because the NRA is so strong, but I also think they are afraid to confront because they don't know what to do themselves," said Linette Rivera.

In a statement after the election, the NRA said they spent money on long-shot races, not shoe-in candidates.

They said it doesn't make sense to say the NRA's influence is waning.

The NRA is holding a news conference Friday to address the tragedies in Newtown, Conn.

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