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  • AQA Component Pressure groups

  • Edexcel Component 5.3: Interest groups in the USA

Background: what you need to know 

Gun control is a controversial political issue in the US, with attitudes closely aligned to party loyalties. Republicans tend to be more vocal in defence of citizens’ rights to carry arms, whilst Democrats favour more stringent controls.

The article suggests there is a growing disconnect between the entrenched positions of Washington politicians and the movement of public opinion. Shootings such as the ones in Colorado and Georgia, earlier in March, have helped to persuade a growing number of people of the need for stronger background checks as a condition of firearm ownership.

Supporters of reform also take heart from the declining influence of the once powerful National Rifle Association (NRA), although it remains popular with the Republican Party’s voter base.

Click to read the article below and then answer the questions:

US gun control activists hope this time will be different

The article provides evidence to help you answer questions on two important examination topics: the polarisation of US politics and the factors that influence the success of interest groups. Use the information here, and other resources, to research the NRA and assess the extent of its influence on the political process.

Depending on the examination board you are following, answer one of the following two questions:

Question in the style of AQA Politics Paper 2

  • Explain and analyse three factors that determine the success or failure of interest groups in the US. [9 marks]

Question in the style of Edexcel Politics Paper 3A

  • Examine the differences in the ways that interest groups influence the political process in the US and the UK. [12 marks]

Graham Goodlad, St John’s College

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