“Gun-ownership in America is diversifying, because of safety fears,” says a headline over at The Economist. As those of us in the Second Amendment community have known for a while, the sociopolitical climate since the start of the pandemic – egregious criminal–coddling behavior by the state, releasing dangerous prisoners because of COVID, nationwide “fiery but mostly peaceful” riots, rising violent crime, looting / shoplifting, hate crimes, falling trust in law enforcement – contributed to a sudden surge in gun purchases by groups historically not inclined to own them. The Economist reported the following:
Of the 7.5m Americans who bought firearms for the first time between January 2019 and April 2021—as gun-buying surged nationwide—half were female, a fifth black and a fifth Hispanic, according to a recent study by Matthew Miller of Northeastern University and his co-authors.
The 7.5 million number may well be a low estimate; one estimate from the NSSF is that there were 8.4 million new gun owners in 2020 alone. As I’ve written before in these pages, adding up numbers for 2020 and the first half of 2021 points to a potential 11.6 million first-time gun owners. The team here at Bearing Arms has written a lot about growing diversity in the Second Amendment community. We see this not only in data collected nationally and over the long-term, but also experience it first-hand at gun ranges. (As an immigrant who grew up without guns and didn’t touch one well into his adult life, I’m living proof of this demographic shift myself.)
However, diversity is a whole lot more than ethnic bean counting or about the superficial differences – religion, sexual orientation, etc. – among us. What counts the most, in my opinion, is diversity of thought and opinion, and the ability to express those freely without the fear of retaliation or retribution. This is where I think gun owners are simply outstanding; respect for individual freedom, for not treading on someone else lest our freedoms be tread upon, appears to come naturally to lawful gun owners. There is some data on political diversity among gun owners. Anecdotally speaking, the gun owners at my local club cover the gamut from traditional blue-collar tradesmen to Ph.D. holders, from the MAGA coterie to Medicare-for-All supporters.
Contrast that with a typical university faculty lounge and the difference is night and day. There is hard data showing how limited diversity is among university faculty. They may look different, have different national origins or sexual orientations, but politically they are incredibly alike. There’s also plenty of publicly available data that shows how faculty donations to candidates for office is overwhelmingly left-wing. Consider these recent examples: 96% at Harvard University, 97% at Yale University, and 98% at Cornell University.
Intolerance of divergent viewpoints to the point of active discrimination is shockingly high among university faculty who themselves take advantage of academic freedom when they’re in hot water for expressing something unpalatable to the taxpaying public. Those in the conservative minority outgroup keep their mouths shut and their heads down and go about their business for fear of retaliation.
In contrast to the Ivory Tower, the broad diversity among gun owners means that gun control will have a harder time in the future. The Economist makes the below conclusion based on sales numbers and gun control polling:
The broadening tent is good for manufacturers and bad for gun-control advocates. Owners are more politically active around gun issues than non-owners. Already it may have had an effect. According to polling by Gallup, in 2021 support for stricter laws dropped by five percentage points, to its lowest in seven years.
That’s a reason to celebrate.