Under Fire

The N.R.A. is more than just another special-interest group -- but like many empires it is neither as imposing nor as invincible as it looks

In Scottsdale, Ariz., National Rifle Association President Joe Foss knows exactly where he stands on the question of gun control. A highly decorated World War II fighter pilot, a former Governor of South Dakota, first commissioner of the American Football League, and a retired brigadier general, Foss speaks with the relish of a man with unyielding convictions. "I say all guns are good guns," he pronounces. "There are no bad guns. I say the whole nation should be an armed nation. Period."

At a time when firearms in the U.S. are involved in more than 30,000 deaths each year and drug...