By Ronni Berke and Carol Costello, CNN
(CNN) – The National Rifle Association is expecting a record crowd of 70,000 at its annual meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina, this weekend. There, it will outline its goals for the future: up its membership to five million, launch a get out and vote campaign, and continue promoting Second Amendment Rights.
As the NRA celebrates a very good year, there are some who say the gun rights lobby has never been stronger. According to rocker and NRA board member Ted Nugent, the NRA has anti-gunners on the run – with President Obama leading the pack.
“He’s scared,” Nugent says. “We know that President Obama is against the NRA, but he's not going to speak about that, because it would be political suicide, like for those who have stood up in the past.”
Some gun control advocates feel betrayed that Mr. Obama isn’t fighting harder for gun control. He’s even signed bills that allow guns in national parks and on Amtrak trains – bills the NRA loves. Some agree with Nugent that politicians may be ducking the issue.
“If the NRA or gun rights isn't a signature issue for them, then in many ways they're better off going with the NRA, getting their support, or avoiding their opposition, as opposed to raising their ire,” says marketing strategist Michael Maslansky, of Maslansky, Luntz and Partners.
In Washington, D.C., officials are fighting a federal bill – backed by the NRA – which would nullify D.C.’s ban on semi-automatic weapons. Councilman Michael Brown says he knows “what the NRA is capable of” on Capitol Hill.
Although it’s a political year, he says, “the NRA shouldn't be able to run roughshod over members of Congress.” For Brown, the issue is not just political, but personal. This week, Brown's city hall intern, Alonte Sutton, was shot to death, allegedly by an acquaintance because he refused to give the man's girlfriend a ride. He was 18.