Matthew J. LacombeNov 3, 2021
How the NRA Turned Gun Owners Into a Political Force
Princeton University Press 2021
Firepower: How the NRA Turned Gun Owners into a Political Force
(Princeton, 2021) explores the scope and power of one of America’s most influential interest groups. Despite widespread public support for stricter gun control laws, the National Rifle Association has consistently managed to defeat or weaken proposed regulations. Firepower provides an unprecedented look at how this controversial organization built its political power and how it has deployed it on behalf of its pro-gun agenda.
Taking readers from the 1930s to the age of Donald Trump, Matthew Lacombe traces how the NRA’s immense influence on national politics arises from its ability to shape the political outlooks and actions of its followers. He draws on nearly a century of archival records and surveys to show how the organization has fashioned a distinct worldview around gun ownership and used it to mobilize its supporters. Lacombe 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 he examines why the NRA and its members formed an important constituency that helped fuel Trump’s unlikely political rise. Firepower 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.
Matthew Lacombe is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Barnard College, Columbia University. He studies American politics, with a broad focus on understanding and explaining political power in the U.S. His research and teaching interests engage with interest groups and political parties, social identity and political ideology, inequality and representation, and American political development. In addition to Firepower, he is the co-author of Billionaires and Stealth Politics, a book that details the political preferences and behavior of U.S. billionaires.
Joe Renouard is Resident Professor of American Studies and Fei Yi-Ming Journalism Foundation Chair of American Government and Comparative Politics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in Nanjing, China.