This is what many of the N.R.A.’s critics have been slow to grasp: The N.R.A. has successfully taken the issue of rational gun regulation out of the policy realm and made it a central feature of the culture wars. The issue is no longer simply about bump stock, or assault weapons, or specific regulations, or public safety; the debate over guns has become a subset of the larger cultural clash that pits us against them — liberals versus “normal” Americans. As Kurt Schlichter, a conservative columnist, insisted last week, “Leftists hate our rights because they hate us.”

The N.R.A. has pursued that strategy relentlessly and with great effect. It was hardly a coincidence that it decided to wade into the controversy over N.F.L. players’ kneeling during the playing of the national anthem. The group put out a video called “We Stand,” which linked the themes of freedom, patriotism and guns. “I stand for the children, the spouses and parents whose family made the ultimate sacrifice for us,” the narrator says. “We are all standing. We are the National Rifle Association of America and we are freedom’s safest place.”