When I want to learn about firearms in the United States, I do what anyone on the editorial board of the Los Angeles Times would do: I turn to an androgynous philosophy professor at a tiny art school in Maryland who has probably never seen a gun in person. This “expert” Firmin DeBrabander, PhD, hysterically insists that no one really owns guns, that they’re wildly unpopular, and that just 3% of Americans own half of them.
To the exasperation of its opponents, the National Rifle Assn. has expanded its influence in recent years and pushed an increasingly radical agenda. States have expanded open-carry laws, thanks to NRA pressure, as well as the number of public places where people can carry guns — such as university campuses. Since 2004, 10 states have enacted so-called campus carry measures, with Kansas set to do so next year. The NRA has also pushed 23 states to pass stand your ground statutes in the past decade; these expansive self-defense laws effectively allow gun owners to escalate confrontations and turn them into deadly affairs. More recently, the NRA has pushed permitless carry, which, as the term suggests, allows people to carry firearms in public with no permit — and no safety training.
Nevertheless, this radical gun rights agenda sits on an increasingly shaky house of cards thanks to demographic change.
Half the guns in the U.S. are owned by 3% of adults. So says a revelatory new study on the demographics of gun ownership by Harvard Public Health researchers. These “superowners,” as some have dubbed them, own on average 17 guns apiece. The study also points out that the share of Americans who own a gun has fallen from 25% to 22% in the last 20 years, even as the population as a whole has grown and gun sales have boomed. Clearly a lot of the same people keep buying guns.
Gun ownership in the U.S. is highly concentrated, and the trend promises to continue. The most recent General Social Survey, released in 2015, revealed that gun ownership among young adults has fallen to 14% from 23% in 1980. This is a considerable drop among what should be the NRA’s future membership.
This “revelatory new study” from “Harvard Public Health researchers” is—unsurprisingly—not published in any refereed journal that requires peer review, but was instead leaked to a radically anti-gun foreign paper and an American gun control group.
The General Social Survey’s data on firearms ownership has likewise always been viewed as farcical by firearms retailers who see their sales year in and year out in direct conflict with what the GSS claims.
Larry Keene of the National Shooting Sports Foundation seems quite amused by the self-evidently absurd claim that gun ownership is somehow declining, even as gun and accessory sales, participation in shooting sports, the number of people engaging in beginner, intermediate, and advanced firearms training, and the number of people obtaining permits for firearms and firearms carry are all skyrocketing and spreading across a much wider demographic range.
The long-term growth in firearms sales, more Americans choosing to exercise their right to keep and bear arms since the landmark Heller and McDonald Supreme Court decisions and increased participation in the shooting sports are demonstrable trends that drive the professional gun control community and their mainstream media allies to nearly apoplectic states.
These long-term trends are inconvenient facts that mess up the preferred anti-gun narrative. Central to their communications strategy, as we have seen time and again, is the story line that fewer, aging, mostly white Americans have for many years been buying nearly all of the guns being produced and then, apparently, stuffing them into their overflowing gun safes.
We know that argument is ridiculous, as any visitor to a retailer or range could quickly confirm.
Gun control organizations are constantly trying to minimize the size of the gun-owning American public as a way of trying to make the adoption of more laws and regulations appear more likely or even inevitable. That they are insulting our intelligence or even that of the American people as a whole doesn’t seem to bother them.
And their strawman opponent in their selfless efforts to bring more “reasonable gun safety” measures into being is, all together now, THE GUN LOBBY, which is really all of us in this industry. Make no mistake. They want to put us out of business.
The news that stock prices fell for the publicly-traded companies in our industry for a few trading sessions immediately following the results of last week’s election is the latest grist for their propaganda mill. Now, you see, there will be no reason for this small number of gun-buying Americans to want to buy more firearms because they no longer fear control by anti-gun political leaders, as a Bloomberg.com columnist opined.
So, in this latest scenario, the anti-gun groups and media see another opportunity to begin writing the industry’s obituary. Talk about a leap in logic.