Unless you were active in the gun rights thing sixteen or seventeen years ago, you really can't grasp how big yesterday was.
Picture: It's late '94 or maybe even early '95. You're standing in a gun store, fingering a used Glock magazine, wondering if you should shell out the fifty bucks. Maybe...
In 1989, George Bush had signed an executive order that banned the importation of scary-looking "assault weapons", introducing the term 'pre-ban' to the mainstream gun-owner lexicon.
Then in '93 a law called the "Brady Bill" had passed. Prior to this, you could walk into a store, fill out a form, and walk out with a gun. Now there was all kinds of fuzzy stuff that nobody really understood; forms that needed filling out and carrying to the cop shop, ill-defined waiting periods... (If you never tried to buy a gun in the bizarre interregnum between the passage of the Brady Bill and the institution of NICS, count yourself lucky. It was a goat rope. And selling them was worse.)
And then in '94 came the Assault Weapons Ban, which spread George Bush's imported AWB to cover domestically-produced arms as well.
So in early '95, there was no doubt in most any gun-owner's mind, based on the events of the last couple decades, that we had seen our last legal magazine that held more than ten rounds, that folding stocks were destined to become features on collector's safe queens, rather than something that let Miata owners take their carbine to the range, that it was only a matter of time before they came after all semiautos or banned carrying guns or something.
Usenet and the early 'Web were crawling with rumors about "Brady II" or "AWB II" that would impose "arsenal licenses" or ban everything but pump shotguns and revolvers. (Some of these things, like digital Mary Celestes, still wash ashore in my inbox, encrusted with the binary barnacles of a decade's worth of 'Fw:fw:fw:fw:fw:...) There were essays on the 'net about the grim dystopian future of '05 or '06, where President-for-Life Bill Clinton had invited in the UN and little kids were finking out grandpa to the gun gestapo, fingering where the family had cached its precious ancestral trove of .30-30s.
If you had showed up in that gun store of 1995 and told everybody that you were a time traveler from a 2011 where the AWB had sunset; 'Vermont-style' carry was now 'Vermont/Alaska/Arizona/Wyoming-style'; the House of Representatives had just passed, by a hefty margin, a national CCW reciprocity bill; there was a shooting-based game show on prime-time national TV; and you could buy a collapsible-stock AR carbine with a bayonet lug in Wal-Mart, the people in the gun shop would have laughed in your face and told you to stop telling tall tales. And not about the 'time travel' part, either, because that was plausible by comparison.
EDITED TO ADD: For a good view of where the gun rights mood stood back in the day, here's a thread from May of 2000 at TheFiringLine.com. The gimmick of the opening post is that it was from the horrible future of 2010...