Why Is the NRA So Powerful?

Why is it that organized interest groups such as the National Rifle Association wield such powerful influence in policy discussions? According to Professor Mike Munger, the reason is simple. In politics, small but organized groups win.

Politics is sometimes more complicated than simply having the majority of voters on your side. Prof. Munger explains the three main factors that can allow a smaller interest group to succeed in implementing a policy that may be opposed by a larger (but unorganized) group. First, an interest group’s members receive individual benefits from the group’s success, which encourages them to act. Second, smaller groups will find it easier overcome the “Free-Rider Problem” since each member’s contribution is more visible. Finally, interest groups frequently offer selective incentives that reward people who help support their cause.

This economic concept applies to issues far beyond gun rights. Interest groups ranging from environmental activists to rent-seeking corporate lobbyists all understand that Prof. Munger is correct when he says, “Politics in Washington is about concentrating and focusing power.”

 

5 Comments

  1. Daniel Pealer

    Very good questions there Jeff, and in my personal experience the answer
    is no. though you need to understand where the regulation hawks are
    coming from, they’ve seen the partial deregulation of the Neocons which
    leaves certain protections (read government enforced cartels) in place
    while removing the restrictions placed to control the abuses of the
    cartelized industries. SO what they see is a comparison between
    government restrictions and government favors masquerading as
    deregulation. It is our responsibility to show that the problems that
    crop up are a result of government regulation enforced mercantilism
    rater than the result of the free market.

  2. Yotsuya

    I loved your comment. 

    I think that the difference is the perceived rather than the reality. In reality drug prohibition does not benefit the average voter but there is a perception that it does by many many people. The believe that there is benefits because they would prefer to see drugs off the streets and the perception is that this will accomplish that. Because of this perception the group size is encompasses most religious voters, and upper class voters.
  3. Autumn Reed

    Aw, it’s shirking responsibility. Makes sense.
    So, for the other groups, everyone has to see the individual benefits.

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