Monday, March 21, 2016


There has been a long-standing campaign in the media and among some political groups against gun ownership. One of the elements encouraging them is the demographics: They have long believed that rural whites were responsible for gun ownership and its political strength and that group was declining. According to one study (Smith), the percentage of homes with a gun has fallen fairly continuously since the 1970s — from approximately 50 percent to 32 percent earlier this year.
But some statistics are beginning to emerge that cast some doubt on the thesis.
A new Gallup poll shows that non-gun owners have a favorable opinion of the NRA (by 7 percentage points). Moderates are even 17 percentage points more likely to have a favorable opinion. Overall, the NRA has a significantly more favorable image than either President Obama or Hillary Clinton.
And ownership is hard to measure. Other surveys by Gallup and ABC News/Washington Post show that gun ownership rates have been flat since the 1970s. The number is uncertain for various reasons, including people's willingness to tell the truth to pollsters about whether they own guns. The “hard” data is that concealed handgun permits and gun sales have soared. Concealed handgun permits tripled from 2007 to 2015. The National Instant Criminal Background Check System shows that the number of gun purchases doubled from 2006 to 2014.
And, according to Gallup, 78 percent of voters supported stricter gun control in 1990. By last fall, that number had fallen to 47 percent. 
Look at Pew polls and you'll see that support for stricter gun control has fallen dramatically since the late 1990s. CNN's polls show a similar pattern since 1993. Last December, the Pew Research Center survey found that 57 percent of Americans believe gun ownership “protects people from becoming victims of crime.” That was up from 48 percent two years earlier. Support for gun ownership especially grew among blacks, rising by 25 percent in just two years.
More, between 2007 and 2014, the percentage of concealed handgun permits held by blacks and other minorities increased more than twice as fast as it did for whites. The growth rate was almost twice as fast for women as for men.
In 2013, gun owners' groups — including the NRA — spent less than one-seventh as much on television advertisements as did the advocates of gun control. Something is not working.

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