Poor Adam Winkler. The UCLA Law Professor and author of “Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America” has put forth an argument which asserts changing demographic trends in the United States assures that gun control is a winning proposition for politicians.
It’s also incredibly, laughably, absurdly wrong.
The recent deadly shooting at an Oregon community college, like so many before it, isn’t likely to lead to new federal laws designed to curb dangerous people’s access to guns. While this understandably frustrates supporters of gun safety legislation, there is reason for them to be hopeful. The National Rifle Association’s days of being a political powerhouse may be numbered.
Why? The answer is in the numbers.
Support for, and opposition to, gun control is closely associated with several demographic characteristics, including race, level of education and whether one lives in a city. Nearly all are trending forcefully against the NRA.
The core of the NRA’s support comes from white, rural and relatively less educated voters. This demographic is currently influential in politics but clearly on the wane. While the decline of white, rural, less educated Americans is generally well known, less often recognized is what this means for gun legislation.
Polls show that whites tend to favor gun rights over gun control by a significant margin (57 percent to 40 percent). Yet whites, who comprise 63 percent of the population today, won’t be in the majority for long. Racial minorities are soon to be a majority, and they are the nation’s strongest supporters of strict gun laws.
An overwhelming majority of African Americans say that gun control is more important than gun rights (72 percent to 24 percent). While the African American population shows signs of slow growth, other racial minority groups are growing more rapidly — and report even greater support for gun control.
The fastest-growing minority group in America is Latinos. Between 2000 and 2010, the nation’s Latino population grew by 43 percent. Hispanics, which make up 17 percent of the population today, are expected to grow to 30 percent of the population in the coming decades.
Gun control is extremely popular among Hispanics, with 75 percent favoring gun safety over gun rights.
On the surface, Winkler’s demographic argument looks damning, doesn’t it?
Unfortunately for Winkler and the politicians that are buying into his sophomoric line of reasoning, he’s guilty of assuming that attitudes and ideas within social groups remain static, even as every variable around and inside those groups are rapidly changing.
Winkler assumes that because the NRA and other gun rights groups have traditionally drawn their strength from FOWGs (fat old white guys) that gun rights only appeal to white, rural and less-educated people. He and people like him are stuck in the past, thinking of what many of many of us have taken to calling “Gun Culture 1.0.”
Here in reality, we’ve been discussing the explosive growth of a group that Winkler and his demographic experts haven’t yet discovered, which has been dubbed “Gun Culture 2.0.” It’s younger, tends to be more highly educated, more urban and suburban, more wealthy, and occupies a rainbow of colors, faiths, and political beliefs that transcends a simply two-party dichotomy.
We know that black gun ownership is one of the fastest-growing segments of gun ownership. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) has been documenting for several years the the fastest growing demographic groups are young, urban and female. The NSSF spent their recent industry summit in Savannah, Georgia, focusing on the needs of the rising tide of Hispanic gun owners… a group Winkler and anti-gun Democrats doesn’t seem to recognize as existing, even as the firearms industry is shifting to meet the dramatically increasing demand from this group.
Blacks have radically changed their minds on gun control in the past two years, with 54-percent of blacks now seeing gun ownership as a good thing, up from 29 percent in 2013. In many parts of the nation, minority gun ownership and concealed carry permit applications are rising even as concealed carrying is slowing (but still rising) among whites.
Just last month Cam Edwards, Colion Noir and I had a wonderful conversation about all this, and the explosive growth of gun culture.
Gun Culture 1.0 is the bedrock of the American tradition, but we’re seeing something truly amazing in the growth of what has been dubbed “Gun Culture 2.0” in recent years. This new gun culture includes many people who didn’t come from a traditional route, and includes people like Colion, who came into the firearms culture on their own or through friends.
Gun Culture 2.0 is a social phenomenon, and has shattered the image of gun owners as being just “old white conservative rural males.” While that cohort is still the largest demographic among gun owners and probably will be for some time, we’re increasingly seeing young, female, minority, and urban shooters flocking to the range.
The neatest thing about Gun Culture 2.0 is something Colion pointed out during our chat. While he came in as Gun Culture 2.0, when he eventually has children, he’ll then be joining and renewing that bedrock tradition of a parent handing down the culture to their children. Gun Culture 1.0 is constantly being renewed, and is growing in a way that reflects the melting pot that makes America great.
Age, race, region, religion… all of those potential dividing lines melt away as you talk shooting tips, tactics, gear, fun, and liberty. It s about a shared passion.
I’m convinced that the spread of gun culture in all of it’s versions is the reason we’re seeing such a dramatic shift in this CNN/ORC poll since they first starting asking this question in 1989.
We are a country that is increasingly developing more respect for our gun culture.
Put bluntly, Winkler and his allies are making their push for gun control based on data and methodologies that appear to be woefully out of data, and not coming close to matching actual trends.
This, folks, is why so many people and groups we’ve talked to are utterly thrilled that anti-gun Democrats are making a head-on assault on the Second Amendment.
Our better data suggests that the anti-gun left’s naked assault on the Second Amendment is electoral suicide.