GRE General Test: RC-174020 GRE Reading Comprehension

Formerly in an election year it took a high degree of courage for a politician to risk his or her career by introducing federal legislation requiring the registration and licensing of guns. While some advocacy organizations argued that the elimination of private ownership of firearms would cure America’s societal ills, a strong gun lobby in Washington, led by the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action, maintained that to deprive Americans of their guns would be an invasion of personal liberty and a transparent violation of the Second Amendment.
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The sentence Formerly…licensing of guns has which of the following functions in the passage?