Earlier in the week, I highlighted some polling data indicating that support for various gun control measures is on the rise -- and that public attitudes are shifting toward the general notion that guns, not mental health or beefed up security, should be the focus on public policy to prevent mass shootings. Well, let's look at another fresh data point in this larger national debate, via NBC News and the Wall Street Journal's pollster. Are Americans becoming more hostile to the idea that gun ownership makes people safer? They are not:
New NBC/WSJ poll: 58% agree w/ statement that gun ownership does more to increase safety by allowing law-abiding citizens to protect themselves. Only 38% say that gun ownership reduces safety by giving too many people access to firearms, increasing chances for accidental misuse.— David M. Drucker (@DavidMDrucker) March 23, 2018
Unlike the numbers I showcased a few days ago, this trend has been heading in the opposite direction. In other words, while gun control advocates have made strides in favor of certain reforms at the relative margins, they're losing the fundamental debate about guns (especially regarding the most common category of firearm owned by Americans). Also note the partisan split:
These findings represent a reversal from 1999, when a majority — 52 percent — said gun ownership reduces safety. And they come at a time when 47 percent of American adults say they have a firearm in the household, which is up from 44 percent in 1999. The numbers also highlight a stark divide by party, with 89 percent of Republicans and 65 percent of independents saying gun ownership increases safety, versus just 28 percent of Democrats who agree.
Nearly six-in-ten Americans currently say that owning a gun for self-defense increases one's safety. Heading into the 21st century, a majority of Americans believed the opposite. That's a big swing. And tens of millions of people have put this believe into practice, with nearly half of all US adults reporting that "they have a firearm in [their] household." By the way, this is not a GOP-friendly polling series or individual survey either. Less than one-third of Democrats agree with the new American consensus on this issue, placing the country's left political flank far out of step with everyone else. Close to 90 percent of Republicans take the opposite view, as do roughly two-thirds of independents. Meanwhile, it's also important to maintain data-based perspective on patterns and potential "solutions" as we engage in emotionally-fraught discussions over controversial policy changes. No one can blame the thousands of students who will attend a gun control march in Washington this weekend for harboring an appalled sense of urgency to disrupt what feels like a frightening and unacceptable status quo. Their feelings are valid and their voices are important (especially when they're not slandering others). But so are the rights of law-abiding gun owners -- and so are facts like these:
Over the last 25 years, the U.S. gun homicide rate has fallen by over half while the gun violence victimization rate has fallen by about 70%. So, why does it seem like gun violence is a growing problem? https://t.co/rBUjY4b6ln pic.twitter.com/UOCjZbAZC3— Cato Institute (@CatoInstitute) March 21, 2018
This academic research into school shooting frequency matters, too. On the subject of meaningful progress toward reducing the likelihood and lethality of shooting incidents at schools, I'll leave you with news of the passage of two measures -- supported by the large majority of the families of those students killed in Parkland -- within the (deeply flawed) 'omnibus' spending bill:
And there's still a bipartisan effort afoot to explore and implement this sort of law to help keep guns out of the hands of violently unstable people:
#ExtremeRiskProtectionOrders are an effective way to prevent mass shootings & suicides. I am working on a new bipartisan law with @SenBillNelson & @SenJackReed to get more states to adopt these laws: https://t.co/1C5jOrfG7f— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) March 22, 2018
One last thing: Remember this report about large corporations that took public stands against the NRA and guns in order to appease the Left losing popularity and alienating many potential customers? Yeah:
This was so predictable https://t.co/13wtSL2R4d— Bethany S. Mandel (@bethanyshondark) March 23, 2018
The story stipulates that reduced gun sales aren't driving Dick's struggles, but perhaps a company's entire bottom line is affected when many of their core customers believe said company is taking sides in the culture wars against them, and therefore decide to take their business elsewhere.