Your Civil+ free trial is ending soon
Click Free Trial in the task bar for more info.
Your Civil+ free trial is active
The subscription will auto-renew on {{insert end date}}. To manage your subscription, visit the Customer Portal.

Working on it...

Gun Lobbying

Lobbying groups attempt to influence lawmakers on specific issues and play a significant role in American politics. How they influence legislators and what forms that influence takes is the subject of much debate.

August 19, 2022
| Published:
January 14, 2022


Gun Control

District of Columbia v. Heller

In 2008, the Supreme Court significantly expanded its understanding of the Second Amendment in District of Columbia v. Heller.

Read More
Gun Control

National Rifle Association

The National Rifle Association (NRA) is one of the most well-known lobbying groups in politics, contributing millions each year to influence gun policy.

Read More


Lobbying is when an individual or organization reaches out to a legislator to influence their decision over a specific bill. Gun lobbying organizations like the National Rifle Association, Everytown for Gun Safety, the Brady Center, and the Giffords Law Center spend millions every year to influence politicians at all levels of government. While they attempt to advance their specific viewpoint, lobbyists help legislators write bills, as they are often experts in a particular subject area. One of the primary concerns about lobbying is whether politicians receive money to enact specific policies or because they already hold those stances.

Ban Lobbying | RootsAction
DIY Roots Action

Often, elected officials’ staff must develop legislation in unfamiliar fields. A staffer knowledgeable on veterans affairs and economics may not be an expert on gun laws. Many lobbyists in D.C. are subject experts and help craft laws for elected officials through their staff. Some view this as an integral aspect of Congress, while others see it as lawmakers selling out to the highest bidder. 

Harvey Weinstein and Meryl Streep to Target NRA With 'The Senator's ...
Slash Film

The National Rifle Association (NRA) is Washington’s most prominent gun-rights organization. The NRA spent $54 million on congressional and presidential campaigns in 2016 and $132 million over the past 15 before. On the other side, some of the most significant gun control organizations include Everytown for Gun Safety, the Brady Center, and the Giffords Law Center. These lobbying groups also help individuals donate towards gun issues and help politicians write gun laws.

Anti-Gun Groups Took Hundreds of Thousands in COVID-19 Aid ...
Guns America

In 2018, the tide of funding shifted in favor of gun control organizations. Gun control organizations reportedly outspent gun-rights organizations by 40% in the weeks leading up to the 2018 midterm elections, a significant shift after decades of almost unilateral influence from pro-gun lobbyists. However, in 2020, gun-rights organizations retook the spending lead, though by a smaller margin than in past years. Much of the lobbying debate centers around how much influence these organizations have over politicians. One of the big questions is whether politicians receive money to enact specific policies or receive money because they support these policies in the first place. Many people on both sides of the aisle have said lobbying efforts amount to legalized bribery, as organizations use campaign contributions and independent political expenditures to get legislators to back or block certain bills. Two central, bipartisan, questions emerge from this debate: 

  1. Are lawmakers beholden to these big donors instead of their constituencies?
  2. Which came first; the support or the donation?

In 2017, gun control movements like March for Our Lives began publicizing the NRA’s contributions to lawmakers, hoping to shame them among the public. The organization started its Print a Price Tag campaign to show how much money the NRA gave senators per student in their state. Critics of this campaign were swift to point out that these donations are often small compared to the overall campaign finances. Additionally, they argue that these contributions did not change the senators’ positions on guns; the NRA merely donated to those candidates that already held pro-gun positions. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), when asked by CNN to reject contributions by the NRA, stated, “There’s money on both sides of every issue in America. I will always accept the help of anyone who agrees with my agenda.”

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? - YouTube
Brett Farkas

For more information on campaign finance and lobbying, check out the following sources:

Discussion Questions

  1. Do lobbyists’ involvement in the lawmaking process helps or hurts democracy?
  2. Do lobbying organizations have too much influence in Washington D.C.?
  3. How do lobbying groups decide which politicians to contribute to? Is it for stances they already hold or trying to convince them to switch to a new one?


Learn More


Left Narrative

Right Narrative

Bipartisan Narrative


No items found.

Classroom Content

Browse videos, podcasts, news and articles from around the web about this topic. All content is tagged by bias so you can find out how people are reacting across party lines.