The National Rifle Association ceased being mainstream years ago when its leadership backed extremist groups like the Freemen and deliberately misinterpreted the Second Amendment. The Second Amendment states:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Notice, the Second Amendment starts off with a clause about the necessity of maintaing "A well regulated Militia." The Second Amendment doesn't simply say "All people can have as many guns as they can get." With the right of gun ownership should come the responsibility of helping to keep the state free.
Further, the NRA blames the media's reporting on crime and violence for the fact that the public generally mistrusts the NRA. I believe in the right of gun ownership, but it's obvious that there are too many guns loose in the society. Reasonable gun regulation is a necessity, to help reduce crime and mayhem that irresonsible gun use has wrought.
When I was a teenager back in the '70s, kids fought, and, yes, even talked about killing teachers and other students. The big difference between the '70s and now is that guns are widely available. A hotheaded teenager with a bad temper could do nothing more dangerous than beat someone up. Now, a hotheaded teenager can be a killer.
PS from 2000: Yes, this was written well before Columbine. I wasn't at this spring's Million Mom March, but my sympathies were definitely with them!