As the debate over gun violence has raged (if you saw Alex Jones ranting on the Piers Morgan show over the gun issue, you know "rage" is not too strong a word) since the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, much attention has been paid to the National Rifle Association and its determined, and at times ridiculous effort to hold guns blameless.
It raises the question of why the NRA has such clout.
Two things make Washington politicians sit up and take notice - money and votes. The NRA spends money, and lots of it, on lobbying, but not that much. It has spent $28.2 million on lobbying since 1998, according to the Huffington Post. It has spent $3.3 million in campaign contributions, and $44 million in independent spending. That's peanuts compared to the amount spent in the last election by the Super PACS.
But the NRA has votes, and can deliver them. It has 4 million dues-paying members, and a lot more gun owners who are sympathetic to the cause. NRA endorsements carry weight, and it hands them out to members of either party. It lets its membership know which candidates are sympathetic, and its members use their votes to support their issues.
And that's democracy. The NRA?will have a lot of influence on the portion of President Obama's gun violence proposal that will be going through Congress.