"It's like how a flower, in the last 15 minutes of its life, gets very fragrant," says Baum. "Part of the reason that gun culture is so angry, extreme and noisy is that it knows it's on its way out. It's one last panicked display."
Gun rights groups hate hearing this and Baum has taken heat every time he's said it. Among those who disagree is Gottlieb, who believes the demographics weren't good five years ago but that the pendulum has now swung back.
"There's a lot more young people getting involved in buying guns. We've seen a significant shift. They're showing up at our meetings," says Gottlieb, who credits the change to the return of young veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan familiar with firearms, and the interest sparked by guns in online video games. Gottlieb says he's also worked to diversify the movement by involving gay and lesbian groups like the Pink Pistols, whose mottos are "pick on someone your own caliber" and "armed gays don't get bashed."
He notes that the number of women buying guns has also increased in recent years, with the number of female buyers of guns for personal defense increasing 83.2 percent in 2009, according to the NSSF.
And there is no doubt the gun community saw a resounding win Wednesday, when the gun legislation failed in the Senate. While acknowledging his loss, President Obama called the decision just "round one." Gun control groups vowed to fight on. Meanwhile the NRA released a statement applauding the "hard work and leadership" of the Senate, and gun forums cheered the victory.
A Second Amendment Foundation life member wrote on the HighRoad.org that the gun community was coalescing better than it had in the past. "There are far more of us, we have access to better information, we're far better organized on our own," wrote the member. "And we'll be far more active in removing any politician from office that wants to restrict firearms, magazines or ammunition we might want to own."