FirepowerHow the NRA Turned Gun Owners into a Political Force

FirepowerHow the NRA Turned Gun Owners into a Political Force

Matthew J. Lacombe

Print publication date: 2021

ISBN: 9780691207445

Publisher: Princeton University Press


The National Rifle Association (NRA) is one of the most powerful interest groups in America, and has consistently managed to defeat or weaken proposed gun regulations — even despite widespread public support for stricter laws and the prevalence of mass shootings and gun-related deaths. This book provides an unprecedented look at how this controversial organization built its political power and deploys it on behalf of its pro-gun agenda. Taking readers from the 1930s to the age of Donald Trump, the book traces how the NRA's immense influence on national politics arises from its ability to shape the political outlooks and actions of its followers. The book draws on nearly a century of archival records and surveys to show how the organization has fashioned a distinct worldview around gun ownership and has used it to mobilize its supporters. It reveals how the NRA's cultivation of a large, unified, and active base has enabled it to build a resilient alliance with the Republican Party, and examines why the NRA and its members formed an important constituency that helped fuel Trump's unlikely political rise. The book sheds vital new light on how the NRA has grown powerful by mobilizing average Americans, and how it uses its GOP alliance to advance its objectives and shape the national agenda.