N.R.A. to N.R.Z

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Over the past decade, what has happened to the number of As (best score) and Fs (worst) the National Rifle Association has assigned Democrats in Congress?


N.R.A. Letter Grade Assigned to Congressional Democrats

  1. Describe one trend you see in the data.

  2. What policy positions do you think earns an A grade from the N.R.A.?

  3. Explain why the trend illustrated in the chart has occurred.

  4. What is a consequence of the change illustrated in the chart?

  5. Explain whether the information from the chart is good news, bad news, or something else?

  6. What most surprised you about this data?

  7. Predict what this chart will look like in 2028.

  8. What questions do you have about this data?

  9. Would you personally prefer to get an A grade or an F grade from the N.R.A.?

  10. What grade did your U.S. House Representative and U.S. Senators get from the NRA?

  11. NRA grades dating back to 2009 are available for download here. List the scores the NRA gave your representatives.

  12. Explain whether the changes displayed in this chart is a sign of growing strength or growing weakness of the N.R.A.

  13. The N.R.A. has lost most of its Democratic allies in Congress but it has a stronger White House ally than ever before. If you were an interest group, explain whether you would rather have strong ties to the White House or to Congress.

  14. During this same time period as shown in the chart above, what has happened to the N.R.A. ratings of Republican Congresspeople?*

  15. Why do you think this has happened?

  16. American politics are generally becoming increasingly polarized (moving away from the center towards the extremes). Explain a connection between this wider trend of political polarization and the data in the chart?

  17. For a number of reasons, including the power of the N.R.A., gun control legislation has been remarkably difficult to pass, especially at the national level. Explain whether the data in this chart makes gun control more likely.

  18. The N.R.A. is an interest group. What are some of the tactics interest groups typically use to achieve their goals?

  19. What specific methods has the N.R.A. used to successfully stop or delay gun control legislation?

  20. How much do the N.R.A. rankings impact American elections?*

  21. Explain whether a positive N.R.A. rating (A) is a negative or a positive for Democrats running for election.

  22. The N.R.A. is now mostly concentrating its campaign funding on candidates in safe seat districts. What does that tell us about the strength of the N.R.A.?

  23. In 2010 the US Supreme Court ruled in McDonald v. Chicago that not only federal gun control laws, but also state gun control laws (incorporation doctrine!!!!) were unconstitutional and violate the Second Amendment’s guarantee of the individuals the right to own guns. Make a claim about whether the reduction of N.R.A. power in Congress will ultimately make a difference in American gun regulation.

  24. Assault weapons are a relatively new class of semi-automatic firearm based on high-powered military designs, specifically designed to kill humans quickly and efficiently. The Second Amendment passed Congress on September 25, 1789 and was ratified by the states on December 15, 1791 becoming the second of the first 10 amendments to form the Bill of Rights. Do you think the authors of this amendment meant to protect the right of individuals to personally own military-grade weapons?

Learning Extension

Read these two very interesting and different interpretations of the Second Amendment by legal scholars. Read The Reasonable Right to Bear Arms and Not a Second Class Right: The Second Amendment Today and be prepared to claim which interpretation your find most persuasive.

Action Extension

Take a look at these sites representing both sides of the gun issue.

Tell your classmates what you learned, which side you support and why. Then check out this easy-to-use guide to contact your representative and tell them what you think about guns.

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