Even Friends Must Toe the Line or Face Wrath Debra Maggart was a member of the Tennessee House of Representative representative and leader of the Republican caucus in Tennessee. I can speak to the power of the National Rifle Association in state legislative races from my own experience this summer. The N.R.A. and their allies spent $155,000 to defeat me in my primary, beginning their assault the week early voting started. They ran 12 full-page newspaper ads featuring my picture with one of President Obama stating I was for gun control. They ran radio ads, robo calls, posted a âDefeat Maggartâ Web site, produced a YouTube video of their chief lobbyist explaining to their members why I should be defeated, and did nine mailings. They posted my photo with President Obamaâs on three of the five billboards in my Republican hometown. I was a lifetime N.R.A. member, co-sponsor of 10 gun rights bills. But when I pressed compromise on one issue, they attacked. All this, because the N.R.A. refused a compromise I supported on a bill that pitted property rights vs. gun rights. The bill would have allowed anyone keep a firearm in their car when its parked on any property.The N.R.A. did not want to let property owners opt out of it or give them immunity from a civil lawsuit in case someone got shot on their property. I am lifetime N.R.A. member. I had an A-plus rating from the group as a legislator, with a perfect voting record on gun issues. I am a handgun-permit holder, the host of skeet-shoot fundraisers, someone who had worked in a family business that sold firearms. Since 2008, I have co-sponsored and our legislature has passed 10 bills to extend the privileges of permit carry holders. But with all that, I became their No. 1 target in Tennessee. As Republican caucus chairwoman, I carried out the wishes of our caucus to defer the N.R.A.âs bill because the over-whelming majority of caucus members did not support it. I was the only House leadership member who had a primary so they targeted me. Because of N.R.A. bully tactics, legislators are not free to openly discuss the merits of gun-related legislation. This stifling of discussion does not serve the interest of the public nor of the gun owners. But the N.R.A. gets their way because they know how intimidating they are and they know that lawmakers are afraid to speak openly about what needs to be done. The N.R.A.âs agenda is more about raising money from their members by creating phantom issues instead of promoting safe, responsible gun ownership. N.R.A. members should ask about the million dollar salaries they pay their lobbyists and why they spend money to defeat proven Second Amendment defenders like me.