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Here's Why We Don't Have Gun Control

Maybe we need stricter gun control laws; maybe we don't. But the reason we do not have such laws is not because the corrupt gun lobby bribes legislators for their votes. The reason we do not have stricter gun control laws is a particular feature of democratic politics.

Economists and political scientists term this feature of the legislative process, "the special-interest effect." Gun control is a special-interest issue.

One side has an abiding interest in gun control. They believe that it would be good for the country in general, but their arguments are, to some extent, abstract.

Opponents, on the other hand, feel a passionate, personal attachment to guns. Their guns, their safety, their rights are threatened. They organize and express forcefully their concerns. And they vote. Think single-issue voter.

The pressures bearing on legislators are uneven.? Members of Congress feel so much pressure from one side that it appears that more voters don't want gun control than do.

Viewing gun control as a special-interest issue also sharpens our understanding of the money question. There is scant evidence that many legislators "sell" their votes for contributions.? There is abundant evidence that organizations contribute to legislators who favor their cause.

How could it be otherwise? As the liberal reform Congressman Barney Frank used to observe, votes don't follow money. Money follows votes.

I'm Bob Evans, and that is my perspective.

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