The Power of Interest Groups

Power on Interest Groups Assignment Instructions

Choose a real interest group and two to five resources regarding the interest group. You will need to choose resources with differing viewpoints. Then, in 500-750 words, do the following:

  • Describe the type of power the interest group has. Include where the power comes from. Is the power instilled in the organization or does it come from citizens.
  • Discuss if that power has changed over time. Has the interest group gained or lost power? Include your perceived catalyst of the gain or loss of power.
  • Discuss the difference between formal and informal interest groups. What type of power does each have?

The National Rifle Association of America – Power on Interest Groups Sample Paper

Certain interest groups endeavor to lobby for or against a specific agenda of interest. One such group is the National Rifle Association of America (NRA), which has been in existence for the past 147 years. It is involved in gun rights advocacy and is specifically interested in firearm-arm related legislations. Carolyn D, Meadows, the organization’s current president, has repeatedly underscored the group’s primary objective of advancing rifle marksmanship and safety even in the face of criticism. The United States has one of the highest global rates of civilian-owned rifles per 100 persons, with current statistics standing at 393 million guns (“Infographic: U.S. Civilians Own 393 Million Firearms,” 2018). It is this ready availability of firearms, lax legislation, and sympathetic interest groups that have cited as factors that influenced the recent spate of mass shootings in the country. Nevertheless, the NRA is one of the most influential interest groups in Washington, D. C, with legal pundits even making sensational claims about the power it wields over lawmakers.

Read also Facets of International Engagement – Groups Helping to Engage an International Audience

 Contrary to popular belief, the NRA’s power stems from American citizens and not from its revenue pool, as is commonly presumed. The United States has a long enduring relationship with guns. Individuals have a constitutional right to own and bear arms as enshrined in the Second Amendment and the reason why the love for guns is tightly woven into the nation’s fabric (Nownes, 2014, p. 42). The NRA is fully aware of this fact and has, since time immemorial, strived to safeguard this constitutional right. Its power lies in American patriots from all walks of life with current estimates of the organization’s .members standing at 5 million (National Rifle Association, 2018).  The group’s mass membership and focus as an expression of power have always been on display whenever grass-root support was required to oppose gun regulation. In a country where citizens barely bother to vote, the NRA’s ability to rally its army of supporters is nothing short of impressive. The presence of gun-rights supporters marching on Capitol Hill to express solidarity with the NRA is a robust expression of the citizen’s power and a cause of worry for many elected officials.

 It is also noteworthy to acknowledge that the NRA has been experienced an upward trajectory over the past century. Starting from its humble beginnings as a gun rights advocacy conglomerate, the group is now a major political force in the country (Winkler, 2013). It is ranked above major oil and pharmaceutical entities; recently unveiling the NRA Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) wing, tasked with pro-gun reform research thenceforward.  The catalyst for this gain in power is the group’s revenue base, which is sustained by a $13 billion firearm industry (MacBride, 2019).  A steady stream of revenue has allowed the NRA to devise an elaborate public relations campaign enabling it to control the discourse surrounding the ownership of firearms in the United States. In addition to this, it hires seasoned lobbyists who gain unprecedented access to legislators, policymakers, and government officials. By so doing, the NRA has an easy time pushing its pro-gun agenda forward while ensuring that liberals do not threaten tenets of the Second Amendment.             Formal and informal interest groups are distinct entities with disparate defining aspects. For instance, formal interest groups such as the NRA were formed deliberately by like-minded individuals to accomplish a specific goal.  On the other hand, informal groups are joined voluntarily by persons seeking to align themselves with a particular ideal and with shifting agendas. Formal groups are more substantial in comparison to their informal counterparts and with a longer lifeline. They also have a well-defined structure, while informal interest groups have often been known for being ill-defined. In formal groups, power is vested in elected top officials who wield unparalleled influence in the group. Conversely, peer groups hold power in the groups, which makes every participant an equal player with the same impact in the grand scheme of things.

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