Congress Can't Do Anything, But the NRA Says It Will Be Successful Under Trump

President Donald Trump delivers remarks at the National Rifle Association Leadership Forum at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta on April 28. He was the first sitting president to address the group’s supporters since Ronald Reagan in 1983. Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Senate Democrats and three Republicans appear to have hindered the GOP's years-long push to destroy Obamacare in the early morning hours Friday. Forty-eight Democrats and three Republicans voted to reject the repeal of former President Barack Obama's signature health care law. Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), who recently discovered he has brain cancer and returned to D.C. this week for the dramatic showdown, was the tie-breaking vote that killed the so-called skinny repeal bill that would have taken away the individual and employee mandates, among other things.

Related: Gun owners are voting Republican now more than ever

The plan seemed like Republicans' last-ditch effort to dismantle Obamacare—at least for now. Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called the outcome "a disappointment," and President Donald Trump tweeted that 51 senators "let the American people down" and encouraged the country to watch Obamacare "implode."

Aside from Congress, the White House is dealing with its own issues, as Trump continues to publicly bully Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself earlier this year from the Russia probe. And the new communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, this week unloaded details about specific staff members to a reporter with The New Yorker, which published that account.

Still, despite the chaos happening in Congress and at the White House, the National Rifle Association's top lobbyist has reaffirmed the gun group's vision of success under the Trump administration and in a Republican-led Congress. At the top of Chris Cox's list are passing national concealed carry reciprocity, something the NRA has been trying to do for years, and deregulating silencers.

"I go to work every day believing in our chances for success," Cox writes in a feature, published online Thursday and set to appear in the August issue of the group's magazine. "When it comes to the 'conversation' about guns in America, I believe now more than ever the pro-freedom viewpoint will have the last word."

The NRA has long been a political force that advocates for or against lawmakers, depending on whether they support loosening gun restrictions. It threw its support behind candidate Trump last May, several months earlier in the campaign season than it did for both the 2012 and 2008 GOP presidential candidates. The group also spent tens of millions of dollars leading up to the November election to support Trump and Republican Senate candidates. And in April, Trump was the first sitting president to address the NRA's annual convention since Ronald Reagan in 1983.

Cox dismissed the notion that Americans who want a "conversation" on gun control are interested in "finding middle ground." He wrote: "The only thing they want to talk about is where to start with further restrictions on the Second Amendment–protected rights of law-abiding Americans."

Cox says that responsible gun ownership in the United States should be as straightforward and accessible as possible. This thinking is in line with national reciprocity, the NRA's top legislative priority that would require states that issue permits allowing gun owners to carry concealed weapons to recognize such permits from other states. Federal lawmakers have reintroduced bills under President Trump that would do just that. The NRA says the current system is confusing to law-abiding gun owners who travel with their guns into states that don't recognize their concealed carry permits.

Lawmakers in previous congresses have introduced similar measures, but those failed to get out of committee. Now, the measures stand a better chance of becoming law under Trump—who has publicly supported national reciprocity—and with the GOP controlling both the House and Senate.

All states and D.C. allow concealed carry in some form; a dozen states currently don't require a state government permit. Opponents argue that national reciprocity would enable the least restrictive requirements to apply to the entire country, thus undercutting more stringent laws in some states.

The NRA also supports another bill dealing with silencers, which are legal but currently regulated by an 83-year-old federal law, as well as on a state-by-state basis. The NRA and other gun-rights advocates are hoping to eliminate regulations that would make it easier to buy silencers, also called suppressors. Lawmakers in both the House and Senate this year have introduced measures that would do away with the current federal policy on silencers.

Meanwhile, as gun-safety advocates work to adjust to a Republican-controlled White House and Congress, Everytown for Gun Safety, one of the leading groups advocating for stronger firearms laws, earlier this year pledged to fight against the national reciprocity effort and against pro-gun candidates in the 2018 midterm elections.