The previous best month in NRA’s PAC fundraising took place in the context of a national election.  This new haul took place in the context of a national debate.  As gun-control advocates tried to paint the NRA as an extremist group — or worse — their political action committee raised more than $1.1 million, almost double their average:

The National Rifle Association’s political action committee raised $1.1 million in January, according to the committee’s latest filing with the Federal Election Commission.

It’s the NRA’s best fundraising month since August 2012 — and reflects growing concern on the part of gun supporters that Congress and President Barack Obama are prepared to take steps to curb or limit access to firearms.

During 2011 and 2012, the committee raised, on average about $600,000 a month — for a two-year total of $14.3 million. The committee has nearly doubled their 2011-12 fundraising pace in a month full of vows from Obama and congressional Democrats to pass new gun control measures.

Suffice it to say that the two are not unrelated.  The NRA ended up with more than $2.4 million on hand by the end of January, helped by the fact that it isn’t spending too much money at the moment, at least not on political donations.  While its opponents accuse the NRA of buying politicians, only two donations went out in January, both to longtime gun-rights supporters: Reps. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA) and Bob Goodlatte (R-VA).

On the public-relations side, though, the NRA is ready to put its cash to work.  CNN reports that Joe Biden’s trip to Connecticut won’t go unanswered:

The NRA has seen its membership rise to record levels as the gun control debate has raged since the Newtown school massacre in December. Group officials man booths at gun shows to not only build membership but to urge attendees to lobby against the proposals.

Besides new print ads, NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam told CNN the organization is tripling the buy of a web video run on various news sites. Last week CNN was the first to report the group bought $100,000 worth of ad time to air the video on various news web sites in Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Colorado, South Dakota, and the District of Columbia, Arulanandam said. Each of the five states has a Democratic senator seeking re-election in 2014.

Both the print and web ads highlight an internal January 2013 Justice Department report entitled “Summary of Select Firearm Violence Prevention Strategies,” obtained by the NRA.

The report questioned generally the effectiveness of some of the proposed gun control measures, such as an assault weapons ban, universal background checks and magazine restrictions.

Expect the NRA PAC to have an impact in these states, and perhaps prompt a reporter or two to ask Biden why we’re not following up on failed background checks now.