A new NBC News poll shows a huge increase in the number of American households with gun owners, including more than 4-in-10 Democrats. But the poll also found a nearly 50-50 split among voters on protecting 2A rights or passing more gun control; a data point that suggests far more outreach is needed to get those new gun owners to actively defend and advocate for their right to keep and bear arms.
There’s plenty of good news for gun owners in the latest survey, which found a record high number of respondents reporting they live in a home where a firearm is present. 52 percent of respondents, including 66 percent of Republicans, 45 percent of independents, and 41 percent of Democrats, reported they or another household member own a firearm. That’s up from 46 percent of survey respondents in 2019, and the increase is driven almost entirely by gun owners on the left.
Four years ago 64 percent of Republicans and 46 percent of indies reported living in a household where a firearm was present, while just 33 percent of Democrats did so. The percentage of conservative and independent gun owners hasn’t moved much since 2019, and is well within the poll’s 3 percent margin of error, but Democrat gun ownership appears to be surging even as the party becomes more strident and extreme in their anti-Second Amendment proposals.
In 2004, a March NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that 57% of Republicans said that they or someone in their household owned a gun, while just 41% of independents and 33% of Democrats said the same.
White voters tend to own guns at higher rates than Black or Latino voters, but gun ownership rates among Black voters have jumped in recent years.
In August 2019, 53% of white voters said that they or someone in their household owned a gun, and 24% of Black voters said the same.
This month, 56% of white voters report that they or someone in their household owns a gun and 41% of Black voters say the same, – a 17-point increase among that group in just four years.
While the number of Democrats who own firearms or live with someone who does has soared over the past few years, the NBC poll found little movement in terms of where respondents stand on more gun control. 48 percent say they’re concerned the government won’t do enough to “regulate access” to firearms, while 47 percent worry that the government will go too far.
The biggest whitepill from this poll was seeing gun ownership rates increase for both political parties. The only way to protect the 2A long term is to build a bipartisan consensus supporting the 2A; this poll suggests this goal is achievable.
Becoming a gun owner doesn't…
— Gregory Chu (@Wunder_Greg) November 21, 2023
As Gregory Chu opined on X, “Becoming a gun owner doesn’t automatically make one a 2A advocate, but it aligns your personal interests with defending the 2A. It’s much easier to persuade gun owners over others because the former will be personally impacted by any new laws/restrictions. The latter readily support restrictive gun laws since those laws wouldn’t hurt them.”
I think that’s absolutely right, and this poll suggests it’s time to do some serious outreach to those new gun owners on the left to help move them from simply owning a gun to actively defending and supporting their right to do so. In addition, gun control groups like Everytown are investing a lot of time and money on identifying and recruiting anti-gun Democrats to run for office, and while we don’t have the deep pockets of a billionaire at our disposal we need to be looking for those pro-gun Democrats who could offer a true choice for voters in primaries.
The NBC poll suggests those potential candidates aren’t as rare as we might think. With time and effort, gun owners could bring pro-2A Democratic candidates back from the brink of extinction and help put our Second Amendment rights on more solid ground.