Political Contributions and Lobbying in the Firearms Industry
The Firearms Owners Protection Act (FOPA) of 1986, or the McClure-Volkmer Bill, was signed in to law after a long debate that pitted several interest groups against one another. This regulation was heavily favored by the firearms industry and groups like the National Rifle Association (NRA) because it sought to allow over-the-counter interstate sales of all firearms, allow interstate transport of firearms, reduce record-keeping requirements for ammunition sales, raise the burden of proof for federal gun law violations, and ease gun control provisions put in place previously.1
A study was conducted by Langbein and Lotwis on the effect of lobbying, political contributions, and other extraneous variables on legislators’ policy stances on the McClure-Volkmer Bill. They found that lobbying and political contributions were both successful in moving regulation because: 1) The NRA outspent its pro-gun control opponent by more than six to one 2) The NRA’s consistent contributions which affected previous positions of legislators resulted in highly significant effects on their policy positions 3) A substantial 38.4% of legislators switched their votes on their policy position, and 4) Pro-gun control lobbying had a significant impact on winning the battle over interstate sales of handguns.2
In my examination of this particular situation, simultaneity and selection are not the likely reasons behind persuasion. First, with regards to simultaneity, the contribution variable tested in the study only includes money received before the April 1986 vote, which means the independent variable precedes the dependent variable. There also had not been previous votes on the same gun issue for 20 years prior to the McClure-Volkmer Bill, which reduces the likelihood of interpreting the effects of the contributions and lobbying as a reward for previous legislator votes on the gun issue.3 Second, this study also tested...
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