America’s gun debate doesn’t break cleanly along red and blue political lines, though the media often makes it sound that way.
The truth about how Americans view their Second Amendment freedom is actually much more interesting than mere political affiliation. This is a reality check worth having just now, as New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, and many other politicians are now openly taking an extreme stance on this issue.
A Gallup poll shows that 27 percent of Democrats, 43 percent of Independents and 55 percent of Republicans say there is at least one gun in their home. Overall, Gallup reports that 42 percent of Americans say they have at least one gun in their home.
Now, any home or even marriage can have both Republicans and Democrats in it, so this doesn’t mean that 27 percent of Democrats own firearms. It does, however, mean that a lot of Democrats and Independents are influenced by the legal gun culture in America.
Still, Gallup also found that 24 percent of Democrats (88 percent of Republicans) have a favorable view of the NRA.
Now the math gets interesting. As of July 2018, Gallup polling found that 30 percent of Americans identified as Democratic, 26 percent identified as Republican and 41 percent as Independent. There are about 200 million registered voters in the United States. So okay, 30 percent of 200 million is 60 million Democrats. This means that, according to these numbers, 14.4 million Democrats in the United States say they like the NRA — that’s more than twice as many people as there are actual members of the NRA.
Many studies have found that more than 100 million Americans own at least one gun. Clearly, however you analyze the numbers, a lot of Americans who don’t self-identify as Republicans have decided to own guns. After all, even if every registered Republican owned a firearm, that would only account for about half (52 million) of the people who own a legal gun in America.
These 100-plus-million people, it is safe to assume, shoot their guns at least once in a while. When they do they likely go to a range and thereby run into other gun owners. At any range they will also experience the strong safety guidelines gun ranges post and enforce. These people are thereby exposed to the four cardinal rules of gun safety, as preached by the NRA. If they break any one of these basic rules a safety officer will toss them off the range.
This shows them what the term “gun safety” actually means. This is in sharp contrast to the politicians and media members who now pretend “gun safety” is a synonym for “gun control.”
These many American gun owners of all political affiliations, then come to understand why it’s a positive thing that the National Shooting Sports Foundations (NSSF), the trade association for firearms manufacturers (full disclosure, I’ve done some contract work for the NSSF), is proudly promoting August as “National Shooting Sports Month.”
Shooting a firearm, when done responsibly, is a positive and empowering experience. How this affects people is hard to quantify. I can’t find a single social scientist who was interested in discovering how this practical right, a constitutional right you can literally take it in your own hands, influences how people vote after they become a gun owner.
Anecdotally, I can tell you — as I have personally introduced a lot of people to the shooting sports (even journalists) — that shooting a gun for the first time has a profound influence on how people view guns. They are soon smiling and saying they can see why this is such a fundamental part of American freedom.
So now let’s circle back to the political. The groupthink at CNN, The New York Times and of politicians like New York Gov. Cuomo are out of touch with a huge segment of voters in America.
Sure, many of the loudest voices on the left do push anti-gun rhetoric. And Mr. Cuomo, who recently said, “We’re not going to make America great again. It was never that great,” is now running ads in New York attacking the NRA and our Second Amendment rights, as if taking away a basic American freedom is a campaign issue to win on.
Al Gore once lost the presidency on this issue (making gun control a big part of his platform even arguably cost him his home state).
After Mr. Gore lost, many Democrats stayed clear of the issues related to guns. Hillary Clinton broke away from this logic. She went loud with her anti-gun views, and I’d argue it cost her a lot of votes from blue-collar union households in Pennsylvania and the Upper Midwest, which also cost her the White House.
Instead of hiding their views on the issue until they managed to forget how much Americans love this part of their freedom, these anti-freedom Democrats should have spent the time educating themselves about guns and the nature of American independence.
• Frank Miniter is the author of “Spies in Congress: Inside the Democrats’ Covered-Up Cyber Scandal” (Post Hill Press, 2018).
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