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A rifle in one hand, a laptop in the other. Behind the scene with pro-gun bloggers

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Experts say that ratio at a major national news event featuring a panoply of GOP stars -- including John McCain and Mitt Romney -- presents a stunning affirmation of the rise of a mix of both partisan and fiercely independent and sometimes downright cranky “New Media,” marking its growing power to not only cover breaking news, but set the tone for political policy -- and, in the case of Second Amendment rights, even the direction of the NRA itself.

“Mass media has an audience where news goes in one ear and out the other,” says Brian Anse Patrick, professor of communications at the University of Toledo in Ohio, and author of the upcoming book, “Rise of the Anti-Media.” For gun-bloggers, “this is an identity issue, a behavioral thing, instead of mere attitude and a piece of news,” he says. “You have these communities all over the places that’s essentially gun culture: autonomous, but coordinated, very powerful and very effective.”

No matter where you look on the Internet these days, bloggers are mucking it up, taking on the big bad “mainstream media” with a mad mix of polarization, cheerleading, and snark. But just as lefty bloggers got the word out about the promise of Barack Obama during last year's election, the rightosphere is pulling out its big guns, too. And in few places is the keyboard jockey scene as fast-growing or as influential as the world of firearms and Second Amendment rights.

While their standard battle stance is from an underdog position, the pro-gun forces are, for now at least, winning the battle for hearts and minds, even gun control advocates concede.

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