When it comes to gun control, conservatives have been fortunate in their enemies. Every time there is a mass shooting, the left renews its calls for gun control, but it spends a great deal of energy on futile and ahistorical arguments about the wording of the Second Amendment, or making hackle-raising, invidious comparisons with Europe. And when it comes time to actually suggest what should be done, Democrats generally suggest policies recycled from the 1994 crime bill, such as background checks and a ban on assault weapons. There’s little evidence that these policies did anything to curb gun violence the first time they were tried, which undercuts the calls for redoubling those efforts.

Yes, conservatives have been fortunate in their opponents. But when it comes to gun control, the right has been equally unfortunate in its allies, and in the end, that may matter much more.

Forget the arguments about whether President Trump’s rhetoric about immigrants did or didn’t cause the alleged El Paso shooter to go on a murderous rampage. I’m talking about a much more treacherous conservative ally: the National Rifle Association.