Lobbying has been done throughout history. Individuals and businesses have interests which they want to be safeguarded. To secure their interests, they utilize different tactics. One of these tactics is lobbying. Through lobbying, they intend to influence decisions made by the government and other policymakers. Lobbying is often taken in a negative context as it often substituted with bribing. However, lobbying does have a positive connotation. Intensive lobbying has resulted in many cases where the whole community benefited instead of a particular group.
For my research, I have chosen the National Rifle Association (NRA). The NRA is a non-profit organization which is a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment. In simple terms, it advocates for the right of people to own arms. It claims to be the oldest civil rights organization in the country. Under the NRA, there are various branches that are tasked with specific functions. One of these branches is the NRA Institute of Legislative Action. The NRA-ILA is responsible for lobbying on behalf of the NRA.
In the first six months of 2017, the NRA has spent $3.2 million trying to protect its interests. In 2016, it spent a total of $3.6 million. According to the data available, the NRA lobbied heavily on 82 pieces of legislation. Out of the 82, a major chunk of the money was spent on just three legislations. Moreover, during the elections, the NRA donates money to those candidates which it feels share similar vision as themselves. Recently, the NRA managed to close down Operation Choke Point, which it claimed was targeting NRA members. Intense lobbying by the NRA led to the probe being shut down.
The NRA also faces stiff competition from other organizations. Some of these organizations have similar agendas as the NRA does, while others are working against the interests of the NRA. The Second Amendment Foundation seeks to secure the rights of gun holders. Unlike the NRA, it does not spend heavily on lobbying. It focuses more on the litigation side and seeks to remove laws that restrict gun rights. Its members are growing in number and may give a tough time to the NRA in the future.
One of the organizations working against the NRA is the ‘Everytown for Gun Safety’. It spent $1.3 million on lobbying in 2016. It has been able to score a number of victories over the years. Recently it was able to strike down a law which could have let people carried concealed weapons anywhere. Similarly, it was able to get laws passed in eight states, under which domestic abusers could not own guns. It has joined with the Brady Campaign to lobby politicians at the federal level as well.
The NRA and the Republican Party go hand in hand. Much of the money is given to Republican lawmakers to vote against any law that they consider violates the Second Amendment. The NRA has managed to have the post of Director of ATF – agency responsible for regulating guns- vacant since 2006. By lobbying intensively, Senate has not been able to confirm any person. Former Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin and former President George W. Bush are members of the NRA. The NRA lobbies on any agency or parliamentary committee which deals with guns.
The NRA is a major force to be reckoned with. It has a yearly operating budget of $250 million which it spends on lobbying and advertisements as well as campaign donations. Many members of the Congress and Senate are also members of the NRA which shows how strong a grip it has. By extensive lobbying it has been able to secure major victories. Despite competition and opposition, the NRA is a major lobbyist in Washington DC and carries considerable weight.
“The other gun lobby.” CNN, Cable News Network, www.cnn.com/interactive/2015/10/us/other-gun-lobby/.
Mencimer, Stephanie. “Government Agency Charged With Enforcing Gun Laws Has No Permanent Director, Tiny Staff.” Mother Jones, 24 June 2017, www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/12/atf-ill-equipped-enforce-new-gun-laws/.
Palmer, Brian. “Why Does the Same Agency Regulate Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms?” Slate Magazine, 17 Jan. 2013, www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2013/01/atf_and_gun_control_why_does_one_agency_regulate_alcohol_tobacco_and_firearms.html.
Spies, Alex Yablon and Mike. “The NRA has already spent more money on lobbying in 2017 than it did all last year.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 12 Sept. 2017, www.businessinsider.com/nra-spending-budget-lobbying-in-2017-2017-9.
Goldberg, Jonah. “The true secret of the NRA’s success.” New York Post, New York Post, 6 Oct. 2017, nypost.com/2017/10/05/the-true-secret-of-the-nras-success/.