Such imagery has since become stock-in-trade. When Brian Kemp ran for governor of Georgia in 2018, one tongue-in-cheek ad showed him in a room full of firearms, leveling a shotgun near a young man interested in dating his daughter. It generated criticism, including from Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, who tweeted, “This recurring and uniquely American ‘joke’ is tiresome.”
Mr. Kemp responded dismissively with his own tweet: “I’m conservative, folks. Get over it!”
Groups like the Firearms Policy Coalition have filed dozens of court challenges to gun limits, and conservative judges, some appointed by former President Donald J. Trump, have delivered legal victories, including overturning a California law last month that placed an age minimum of 21 on purchases of semiautomatic rifles.
“The fight is really intense,” Mr. Suplina said. “But for the first time in any recent period, the gun safety movement is showing up, meeting them on the battlefield, as it were, and that includes state houses and also Congress.”
Still, gun supporters are feeling generally optimistic.
“We are just at the start of expanding gun rights,” said Mr. Csencsits of Gun Owners of America.
But lest its members become too complacent, Gun Owners of America has on its website a very different message about the state of things: Be afraid.