Guns have long been a favorite prop of campaigning politicians: “No, really! Look how in touch with Middle America we are!” (Republicans) or “No, really! Look how tough and unelite we are!” (Democrats). In 2010, with a reawakened conservative movement bent on returning to constitutional first principles—and with one candidate even talking offhandedly about armed insurrection (see Sharron Angle)—the campaign trail featured more weapons than ever. Authentic or not, the formula has had mixed results for candidates. In a political season that ended with the triumphant House takeover by the GOP, here are some, such as Arizona Democrat Gabrielle Giffords—critically injured by a gunman in Tucson on Jan. 8—who succeeded at least in part by stressing their NRA bona fides, and some who failed.