There’s a reason why gun control outfits like Everytown have been running ads in support of their favored candidates that talk about abortion as much or more than they mention things like a gun ban or carry restrictions: their anti-gun ideology isn’t nearly as popular with voters as they claim.
The latest evidence for this comes from Marquette University’s Law School, which recently released a national survey quizzing voters about their support or opposition to the Supreme Court and several high-profile decisions. While the poll found just 41% approval for SCOTUS among survey respondents, voter attitudes towards the Court’s decision in Bruen is much higher. In fact, according to the survey, 67% of respondents supported the Bruen decision’s recognition of a right to carry a gun outside the home, with just 33% opposed. The Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade, on the other hand, was supported by 35% of respondents with 65% opposed.
On one hand, these results aren’t that surprising to me, particularly when it comes to the support for Bruen. After all, there were already 42 “shall issue” states before SCOTUS agreed that the Second Amendment protects the right to bear arms in public, and nearly half of U.S. states had adopted permitless carry before the Bruen decision was handed down last June. The “may issue” laws in question in Bruen were already outliers that didn’t apply to most Americans, and Bruen simply confirmed what they already knew: the right of the people to keep and bear arms means what it says.
Still, the survey’s findings are still important, particularly when you look deeper than the top line data.
The fudd effect: The poll found that the oldest age group was the least supportive of a right to bear arms outside the home. pic.twitter.com/JRanBSItDb
— Firearms Policy Coalition (@gunpolicy) November 15, 2023
It’s true that voters over the age of 60 were the group most likely to strongly oppose Bruen, but that was also the cohort to display the strongest support for the decision as well. A full 45% of respondents over 60 say they strongly agree that we have a right to carry a firearm in public, while just 17% strongly disagreed with that position. More importantly, opposition to Bruen couldn’t crack 50% no matter what age we’re talking about.
The youngest cohort of voters had twice as many strong supporters than opponents at 28-14%. Even when including those who were “somewhat” opposed, disapproval of the Bruen decision topped out at just 36% among 18-to-29-year-olds, which isn’t all that different than the 38% of over-60s who were either strongly or somewhat opposed to the decision.
High school graduates approve of Bruen 74-to-27, while post-graduates are in favor 55-45%. Americans making less than $30,000 a year back Bruen 62-37, but those making more than $100,000 a year are sightly more supportive, with 70% agreeing with the decision.
In fact, the only demographic to record majority opposition to Bruen was Democratic voters, but even then the results were far closer than you’d suspect. 48% of Democrats surveyed said they actually agreed with the Supreme Court when it comes to bearing arms, with 52% opposed.
Overall, support for the Bruen decision was slightly higher than approval of the Court’s decision to recognize same-sex marriage (67-to-65% approval), though not quite as high as the support for the Court’s banning the use of race in college admissions or its ruling that federal civil rights statutes protect LGBT workers from on-the-job discrimination.
The survey’s results are definitely good news for gun owners, but there’s still cause for concern. As much support as Bruen might receive, the opposition to Dobbs is even deeper, and that appears to have already had an impact in our most recent elections. In 2024, I expect to see Democrats running more on ensuring access to abortion than depriving people of their right to carry or even stripping them of their right to own modern sporting rifles, but once they’re in office they’ll still vote for almost every gun control bill that’s introduced.
We’ve already seen this in Virginia, where Democrat Abigail Spanberger launched her 2025 gubernatorial campaign this week with a slickly-produced video that features the sitting congresswoman smirking into the camera and complaining “while some politicians in Richmond focus on banning abortion and books, what they’re not doing is helping people.” Spanberger’s own support for a ban on so-called assault weapons and other gun control measures was completely missing from her introductory video, but if she’s elected governor I have no doubt she’ll be pushing to prohibit the sale, manufacture, and ownership of AR-15s and other semi-automatic firearms.
Second Amendment advocates can and will remind voters of the Democratic duplicity on the right to keep and bear arms, but unless the GOP comes up with a pro-life platform that isn’t political poison in many states, it might not matter in 2024. It’s also important that gun owners look for and cultivate pro-2A candidates across the political spectrum. With almost half of Democrats supporting the Bruen decision that’s theoretically possible, but it’s likely going to take primary challenges against incumbent Democrats to make any significant headway. Everytown has been spending millions of dollars developing their own roster of anti-gun candidates, and while we may not have the backing of a deep-pocketed billionaire to help us I think it’s still crucial that pro-Second Amendment groups do the same across the political spectrum. Otherwise, no matter how popular the Bruen decision might be among we the people, the right to keep and bear arms will be one of the first targets of the next Democratic majority in D.C.