Want More Gun Control? Be Patient…
The well known demographic trends that allowed a Barack Obama to be elected still exist and aren’t going away. Which is bad news long term for groups like the NRA. There’s a huge gap between older white men and everybody else on guns.
“Support for gun control is rising modestly since last month’s shootings, but still largely divides the country close to 50-50,” CNN Senior Political Analyst and National Journal Group’s Editorial Director Ron Brownstein said.
And that split follows the same track demographically as the split in last November’s presidential election.
“There is strong support for action on guns inside the modern Democratic coalition of minorities, millenials and college educated white women and strong opposition among blue-collar and rural white voters,” Brownstein added.
The National Journal poll indicates that those ages 18-29 are most supportive of stricter gun control, and that minorities overwhelmingly favor prioritizing gun control over gun owners rights, with 52% of white respondents saying protecting gun ownership is most important.
The Pew survey indicates that men are divided on this question, while a solid majority of women say it’s more important to control gun ownership. There’s also a sizable gender gap over a ban on semi-automatic weapons, with two-thirds of women supporting such a move and men divided.
It’s not the short term polling changes, which regularly occur post-mass shootings like Newtown, that ultimately make the difference. It’s the fact that the country’s overall makeup is changing. Simple fact is that minorities, women, urbanites and the young are strongly in favor of gun control. A counterargument might be that the young, when they “grow up”, will become more pro-gun. But data suggests that would only apply to white males as they age, not to women or minorities. Since whites are a shrinking majority, and since nonwhites’ and women’s influence over policy continues to grow, the NRA’s near monopoly influencing gun control is likely to erode in the future.
Furthermore, the urban/rural divide is strong, but not helpful to the NRA in the long run either, as the rural population slowly declines relative to the cities.
One more thing: much of the extreme pro-gun rhetoric originates in a hyper-literal interpretation of the 2nd Amendment, namely that civilians need powerful weapons to prevent govt. tyranny. But this philosophy is and has been an overwhelmingly white male phenomenon; few others seem to be fantasizing about an armed uprising of civilian militias. It simply doesn’t resonate with nonwhites (or even white women) the same way it does with white men. I’d guess that’s partly due to a different conception of the Constitution among minorities and women. They believe in its ideals as much as white guys, but are less likely to elevate the founders to infallible demigod status, whose every word must be seen as holy. After all, women, blacks, Hispanics, Asians, etc. realize that at the time of the founding, they were either second class citizens or property. Thus trying to ascertain with certainty the precise original intent of each of the founders—during the late 1700’s—doesn’t resonate in the same way. It’s just not as emotionally or intellectually appealing to most groups as it may be to Bryan Fischer, Wayne LaPierre, the NRA, much of the Tea Party, et al.