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This article presents an overview of interests groups supporting both sides of the gun policy debate and a review of current political climate in state and federal government. It focuses on the influential capability of gun rights and gun-control groups, how this has changed over time, and what kind of impact this may have on society. Based upon research data from public, private, and non-profit sources it can be reasoned that gun-rights groups have significantly more power to influence legislation through lobbying and other means at the federal level than gun-control groups. Their power has grown with the Republican-controlled House and Senate in 2015, but President Obama will likely veto any new pro-gun legislation.

Gun rights groups also have more influence on legislation in states that have “shall issue” or “unrestricted” concealed carry laws, as these states generally have Republican voting majorities and strong gun cultures. Gun-control groups lost influence in the federal government as a result of the Republican control of the House with the 112th Congress in 2011. However, gun-control groups have developed a monopoly on the “may issue” states. All “may issue” states have Democrat majority voting populations. These states are also rated as having the most restrictive gun laws in the nation, concealed carry notwithstanding. After a disastrous campaign to restrict gun ownership post-Sandy Hook, the gun-control groups have adapted their strategy to dig in within the states that are already most restrictive in order to hold the ground they have gained in recent decades.

Keywords: guns, firearms, gun-control, 2nd Amendment

Guns in America






Guns in America (The Role of Interest Groups in Firearms Policymaking).pdf

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Chris Fox is a Project Coordinator at USC’s Sol Price School of Public Policy, where he recently graduated with an MPA. Prior to that, he was a research fellow at the DHS Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE), where his focus was on homegrown violent extremism. He also holds a BA in Psychology and an AAS in Information Systems Management. Chris served for seven years as a TACP, is a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and continues to serve as a JTAC Instructor in the Texas Air National Guard.