One Democrat gave the group a 10, but only "because -- unlike the amp in 'Spinal Tap,' this one doesn't go to 11," the lawmaker said.
"It is Darth Vader and Jack-the-Ripper rolled into one," said another Democrat.
Two Democrats said the NRA "owns" Congress. One said the group only "owns" the Republican Party.
Republicans agreed on the strength of the gun-lobby group, but in generally more glowing terms. "The NRA has influence because the majority of Americans agree with their principles," said one Republican.
"The NRA is the best single-issue lobby in politics, bar none," said another.
"Few if any advocacy groups are in the same league as the NRA," said a third Republican. "They are well funded, they have a committed and active grass roots network, and members both fear and respect them as a political force."