Score this one as a victory for the judgment of the American people.
For decades, anti-gun groups have been trying to scare Americans into getting rid of their guns, with the claim that you’re more likely to have a problem if you have guns in your home, than if you don’t. But whatever they’ve been doing all these years apparently hasn’t been working. Not only have Americans been acquiring guns at record levels, Gallup recently reported that 63 percent of Americans now believe that having guns at home makes them safer, nearly double the percentage reporting the same belief 14 years ago.
Furthermore, Gallup found, support for having guns at home is shared by majorities of men and women, white and other Americans, people in all major geographic regions of the country, and Republicans and Independents. Only among Democrats does a majority still believe that having a gun at home makes them less safe.
Gallup’s findings are, in a word, huge. Ever since the mid-1980s, anti-gun activists have realized that to achieve their goal, they can’t attack only handguns, or compact handguns, like they did in the 1970s and early 1980s. Instead, they now attack gun ownership in general, with a particular emphasis on dissuading parents from introducing guns of any kind to their children, believing that children who aren’t introduced to guns won’t become gun owners as adults.
Most obviously, the fact that anti-gun groups now target guns of all types is evident in the groups’ names. The National Coalition to Ban Handguns has been renamed the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. The National Council to Control Handguns has been renamed the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. Newer groups have taken the names Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, and the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
Additionally, whereas in the late 1980s, anti-gun activists wanted a waiting period on retail handgun sales, now they want a background check on commercial and private sales and trades of all guns. They complain about “gun” nuts, the “gun” culture, the “gun” lobby, and the “gun” industry. Even mentioning the word “gun” or wearing a T-shirt with the image of any kind of gun can get a kid suspended from school (and sometimes even arrested). And the words “gun” or “guns” appeared 13 times in President Obama’s list of 23 executive actions on “gun violence,” issued in January 2013.
The anti-gun Washington Post covered Gallup’s new findings last week, but found it “interesting” that “even as people are increasingly embracing the idea of guns in the home, the number of homes with guns in them hasn’t really risen.” With a little additional research, however, the Post would have found Gallup’s explanation for the trend in household gun ownership reported to pollsters.
Referring to the period during and immediately after the Clinton Administration’s campaign against guns, Gallup said, “A clear societal change took place regarding gun ownership in the early 1990s, when the percentage of Americans saying there was a gun in their home or on their property dropped from the low to mid-50s into the low to mid-40s and remained at that level for the next 15 years. Whether this reflected a true decline in gun ownership or a cultural shift in Americans’ willingness to say they had guns is unclear.” (Emphasis added.)
Gallup’s finding that personal safety is the top reason that Americans own guns today, and its finding in 2008 that 73 percent of Americans believe the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms, clearly show where the American people stand. The news that most Americans believe that guns enhance their safety at home should cause anti-gun activists to re-think not only their strategy, but the point of their disarmament crusade.