You might not expect to see a robust gun lobby in a state like Massachusetts, which has some of the strictest gun laws in the country. But gun rights activists do have a powerful presence – even here in one of the bluest states. And some say their tactics are stifling the debate and preventing progress.
Cambridge State Rep. Marjorie Decker says she learned how the National Rifle Association operates on Nov. 16, when she testified at a State House hearing on her bill that she says would allow someone's guns to be temporarily taken away if the person poses a danger to himself or others.
She describes a "hostile and violent" pushback after speaking out on her bill, and she says much of it was coming from GOAL, the Gun Owners Action League, the official state affiliate of the NRA.
Within hours of the hearing, Decker says she was inundated with a barrage of expletive-laden social media harassment, from YouTube videos to fundraising emails - even death threats on Decker's Facebook page.
"People like yourself should be hung in the town square at sunrise," one person wrote to Decker.
"What I learned is that the NRA and GOAL want to make sure that I feel very afraid," she said.
By the end of that day, Cambridge Police were providing Decker with a 24-hour detail.
Jim Wallace, the executive director of GOAL, says the organization is not harassing anyone.
"We also live in a world of social media brutality," he added. "I don't care what issue you talk about, we face it, too."
Wallace says members are encouraged to talk to legislators, but only in a civil, professional manner. As for Rep. Decker, he says she made a "tragic mistake."
"I think why she's getting hammered is not because she filed a bill, it's because when she testified, she referred to the Second Amendment as a 'privilege,'" Wallace said.
"They just talk about how I'm trying to steal their Second Amendment rights," Decker said in response. "That has nothing to do with the conversation, and we need to stop letting them own the narrative."
Many feel all of this is a mirror of what is happening in Congress. But Decker says she will continue to hold firm on her bill, and she hopes other gun control activists have courage to do the same.