Interest Groups And Party
The quest for political power. Rarely does a day pass where some form of power struggle does not occur within our government. The importance of the role of American government in the lives of its constituents has continuously grown in conjunction with a corresponding increase in governmental economic and social obligations. As the American state assumes greater power and responsibility in its actions, so must the citizens of the United States. With this increase in modern government participation, private interest groups have emerged as powerful influences in the American political scheme, particularly in the decision-making process. These highly effective organizations exist for several reasons, but especially for one in particular. The principal duty of such an interest group is the preservation of favorable circumstances that allow for that specific group to ideally exist. These interest groups effectively mobilize their efforts through lobbying, political clout, litigation and through sheer nepotism to gain favorable public opinion. Two such groups, the National Rifle Association and the tobacco industry interest parties, have been strong in voicing their beliefs. By a thorough study in their respective actions and political convictions, we can begin to see clearly the influence and role that these groups possess in our government.
The National Rifle Association has actively represented a strong political opinion concerning gun control and the implementation of related laws. Representing virtually every gun owner and gun manufacturer in America, the NRA carries with it the burden of preserving basically the second amendment right to bear arms. Although the Second Amendment to the Constitution 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,” to what extent can these gun lobbyists argue for reductions in gun laws. Using the well known Brady Bill as an example, we are able to see what a formidable task these interest groups become with respect to the passage of legislature.
A seven-year battle. After a long and arduous seven-year struggle, Congress finally was able to implement the Brady Bill as law. Approved as the “first major gun control legislation…since 1968,” it permitted limitations to gun purchasing in answer “urban violence and the assassinations of Robert F. Kennedy and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” The passed bill called for a five-day waiting period upon the purchase of a hand gun. During this five-day span, information would be sent to the police who would, in turn, run background checks. This was all in hopes that convicted felons, fugitives, drug addicts or the mentally ill, would be prevented from purchasing guns.
Despite this historic passage of legislation concerning gun control, the Brady Bill is often described as a “modest measure that at best will only make a small dent in crime.” The National Rifle Association and other powerful gun interest groups were able to apply great political pressure in order to cause serious alterations from the original bill proposed back in the late 1980’s. The NRA argued two points in their rebuttal to the bill. Firstly, they emphasized the Second Amendment right to arms. Secondly, the National Rifle Association stressed that this particular bill would not be effective in the limiting the access criminals would have to guns. Through their efforts, particularly in influencing members of Congress, the gun interest groups were able to get something “acceptable” passed. Whether it was through campaign contributions or by pressure exerted in the congressperson’s constituency, the NRA and its fellow counterparts were able to sway legislators to filibuster during a time immediately preceding a period of Congressional adjournment. By influencing congressional members in such a way, the NRA pressured supporters of the bill to drastically compromise, resulting in passing a bill which was greatly different from the one originally proposed.
In analyzing a second interest group, the tobacco industry’s lobby organizations, a trend similar to that found in regards to gun control is noticeable. Historically, the government has called for the regulation of various facets in the tobacco industry for three distinct reasons: “risk to the public health or safety, risk assumed by consenting adults, and risk assumed by children and adolescents.” Basically, the government’s stance is founded