Editorial claims young conservatives favor gun control

AP Photo/Michael Conroy

Any political effort has to account for a lot of things. One of those is the future. It does you no good to push for change when you don’t plan for that change holding firm after you’re gone.

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Gun control, for example, has done this pretty well, as have pro-gun groups. There has generally been this back-and-forth that transcends generations, which is what happens when groups do consider the future.

Yet a recent editorial suggests that gun rights groups have been dropping the ball there.

New polling shows trouble ahead for Republican politicians who continue blocking any attempt at rational restrictions on guns: Young conservatives of the kind the GOP will increasingly need in the future are far more open to required psychological exams for gun purchasers and other firearms limits than are their older conservative counterparts.

The reason is hardly mysterious: Gen Z — including its more right-leaning members — have all grown up in a country drowning in gun violence thanks to older conservatives’ stubborn resistance to even the mildest gun-safety proposals.

Mass school shootings have become such a routine part of American life that it’s easy to forget it hasn’t always been like this. The start of this dark era is generally put at 1999, the year of the Columbine High School massacre in Colorado, which left 15 dead.

As the nation reeled from the shock of what was then a singular tragedy, a barrage of new firearms restrictions were proposed in Congress. As the debate wore on, it soon became apparent that even this horrific demonstration of the dangers of America’s loose gun laws couldn’t budge lawmakers held in thrall to the gun lobby.

As Politico reported earlier this month, several recent polls have confirmed that young conservatives as a whole don’t share their older counterparts’ stubborn opposition to gun restrictions. A Harvard poll in the spring found a majority of young conservatives favored mandatory psychological examinations as a condition of purchasing guns.

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This is, of course, troubling. This is the sort of thing a certain gun rights group known by three letters–one I called out recently for being all but invisible–used to work to prevent, often by debunking claims that these measures were, ultimately, good things.

We’d see them on TV and in newspapers fighting back against the suggestion that these measures were good, thus fortifying the minds of people on the right from the constant attacks.

But, in the interest of fairness, is this right?

We’ve seen a lot of polling through the years, but quite a bit of it suggests this younger generation is far less open to gun control. At least certain forms of it.

See, I have concerns about the validity of these claims. I don’t doubt the pollsters found these numbers and I’m not saying the monkeyed with them in the least. What I am saying is that polls only work if you trust that respondents are telling you the truth.

It wasn’t that long ago when younger people took to the streets and tried to burn their cities to the ground. If someone will do that, can you ensure they won’t lie to a pollster, claim to be conservative, then say they support some pretty extreme gun control measures? It doesn’t even need to be coordinated, just someone making a suggestion and enough other people thinking it sounds like a swell idea.

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I wouldn’t bank on it.

Either way, we’ve got a lot of work to do to make sure this cannot happen again, regardless of whether someone decides to lie.

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