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Among the grass-roots organizations that lobby Congress, the National Rifle Association is generally considered one of the most effective. In fact, Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., has said the NRA “does the best job of any group in lobbying members.” The firearms group’s legislative Web site, www.nraila.org, helps show why the NRA has this exalted reputation. Although the site is not attractive (in fact it’s quite “busy” and somewhat jarring to the eye), it’s full of up-to-date information that’s immediately appealing and useful to anyone who supports the NRA’s cause. Thumbnail sketches of each state’s gun laws, nearly daily alerts about developments in Congress, fact sheets, newspaper articles — whatever will impel action by the group’s 3 million members — are all on the site. A headline dated Sept. 1, 2000, says that “Al Gore’s Justice Department Says Second Amendment Is Meaningless.” It’s not quite as dramatic as that. Behind the headline lies a rather routine letter by Solicitor General Seth Waxman explaining 60 years of federal cases, but it will help energize the NRA’s already committed supporters.

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