Two major polls came out this past week that show decreasing support for gun control among the American public. Quinnipiac reports that 49 percent of Americans oppose more restrictive gun laws, with only 45 percent supporting them. This is the first time Quinnipiac has found support for more gun control falling below 50 percent in six years.
Gallup found somewhat more enthusiasm for gun restrictions (52 percent). Still, that’s the lowest it’s been since 2014. Also according to Gallup, among political independents, anti-gun attitudes have declined by 15 percent since 2020.
These results really shouldn’t come as a surprise, given the historic homicide spike of 2020, the continuation of this violent trend in 2021, and the record numbers of Americans who are buying guns (many of them for the first time).
For many Americans, the heart of this debate—your right to defend yourself and others, in life-or-death situations—is becoming clearer. While they may have reflexively taken the anti-gun side in the past, either as a nice-sounding abstraction or as part of their societally mandated political identity, they now they have skin in the game and things look a little different.
The news isn’t all good for gun rights advocates, however. Among Democrats, both polls found 91 percent endorsing more gun control—a rising number, by Gallup’s reckoning. In fact, the figure appears to be the highest level of gun control support ever found by Gallup among Democrats, just above the 90 percent reported in 2017.
There are two possible explanations for this 91 percent peak figure. The most straightforward explanation is simply that more Democrats are supporting gun control. But another possibility is that some who previously identified as Democrats are now leaving the party over issues such as gun rights—thereby resulting in a higher proportion of remaining self-identified Democrats who favor more restrictions.
Either way, it seems extremely unlikely that Democrats will “ditch the anti-gun rhetoric” ahead of next year’s mid-term elections, as the political consultant Richard Feldman advised them to do in a recent Politico editorial. They may even cite these new statistics—showing the overwhelming popularity of gun control within the Democrat base—as reason for doubling down against Americans’ self-defense rights.
Feldman is right to highlight gun rights as an emerging wedge issue between Democrats and various constituencies, specifically “rural and working-class voters . . . Latino voters and independents and non-college-educated women.” As he further notes, groups eagerly courted by Democrats—“women and people of color”—are the ones driving the surge in first-time gun sales.
Feldman is also exactly right to highlight the recent political upset in New Jersey where truck driver Ed Durr, spurred by his inability to get a concealed carry permit, shocked the system by defeating state Senate President Steve Sweeney.
Even so, can the committed core of gun control activists really be expected to back off and become more reasonable just because their position is becoming less popular? I don’t see it happening.
Democrats, Feldman says . . .
…need to learn how to talk about firearm rights and crime issues without demonizing millions of voters who own guns. What Democrats don’t realize is that the very voters they are losing by the tens of thousands each cycle are also the people who account for the largest surge of new firearm sales.
That’s good advice, but it’s hard to imagine a party so overwhelmingly committed to gun control ever taking Feldman’s advice, even if that’s necessary to win elections.
The reasons for this stubbornness—cultural, psychological, ideological—are complex. But the bottom line is simple: the record 91 percent of Democrats who support gun control, as it is losing ground nationwide, are not suddenly going to change course. They are locked in, even if many members of their perceived base are not. Many of these are so-called “true believers.”
Richard Feldman thinks Democrats “can start by supporting a sensible ‘national carry’ program. They can fund firearm safety education . . . They can support the import of long guns for self-defense.”
A few outlying or uniquely-situated Democrats might get away with such things. The rest of them, though, have that 91 percent figure to contend with—along with their own ideological blinders.
Those blinders can make it tough to read the room. During the same week that Gallup and Quinnipiac released their poll numbers, Beto O’Rourke—most famous for saying “Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15” on live national television—announced his campaign for Governor of Texas in 2022.
Beto says he is “going to every single part of this state . . . You can’t be too rural. You can’t be too red.” But I bet that the Democrat Party abandoning its gun control platform is about as likely as Beto actually trying to take anyone’s AR-15 during his travels.
Cody J. Wisniewski (@TheWizardofLawz) is the director of Mountain States Legal Foundation’s Center to Keep and Bear Arms. He primarily focuses on Second Amendment issues but is happy so long as he is reminding the government of its enumerated powers and constitutional restrictions.
To learn more about the Center to Keep and Bear Arms’ work and support their fight for your natural right to self-defense—from both man and tyranny—visit www.mslegal.org/2A and donate today!