Conservatives are all but declaring victory on their defense of gun rights, exuding confidence as calls for aggressive controls in the wake of the Newtown elementary school massacre have given way to scaled-back expectations to firearm restrictions in Congress.

“They can call me crazy and whatever else they want, but NRA’s nearly 5 million members and America’s 100 million gun owners will not back down — not now, not ever,” an emboldened Wayne LaPierre, the CEO and executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, told conservatives gathered at an annual conference. He pointedly ignored President Barack Obama’s most restrictive proposals in his speech, using it instead to assail the one that has the potential of getting approved — a near-universal background check for gun owners.

It’s a sign that LaPierre — and others at the Conservative Political Action Conference — thinks the nation’s largest pro-gun lobby has successfully beaten back the most limiting proposals.

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