Guns and politics are forever intricately entwined. They have been since before the right to bear arms was officially recognized in the Constitution of the United States.
The very topic of guns is a heated one. This is so much the case that gun control bills regularly come up before both state and federal legislatures.
A new study by the University of Kansas has illuminated yet another connection between guns and politics. And this one may have people who lean right politically cheering.
According to the study, American gun owners are in the thick of it politically, being more active than their non-gun-owning counterparts across the board. This includes “not only in voting but in donating money to candidates and contacting elected officials.”
The Huffington Post reported other areas of increased engagement by gun owners. They included things such as registering to vote, voting in presidential elections, signing petitions, and posting on social media about guns.
Simply put, gun owners are just more politically engaged.
NBC News reported in June 2015 that only about one-third of Americans actually owned one or more guns, according to study data published in Injury Prevention. Despite gun sales surges during the President Barack Obama years, a Pew Research Center Study from June 2017 reflects a similar gun ownership number — 30 percent of adults are gun owners.
But even though non-gun owners clearly outnumber gun owners, being more engaged politically matters. Political science graduate student Abbie Vegter explained, “Part of the reason majority opinions on gun control legislation aren’t turning into policy is that gun owners are a very strong political group who hold a lot of weight and hold a lot of influence despite being a minority in American politics.”
And there is more bad news for the anti-gun crowd, particularly for those who have set their sights on the NRA.
“Only one in five gun owners belong to the NRA, so we think there is something else going on than just the NRA when it comes to mobilization,” Vegter said.
The student researcher offered a possible explanation for why that was the case. “Owning a gun for hunting doesn’t necessarily mean being a hunter is a core part of your identity.”
“But owning a gun because you think it’s an essential right guaranteed in the Constitution is more a part of your political identity. It’s something more attached from the get-go to politics.”
The research illustrated two possible lessons that could be important factors for both legislators and those who are anti-gun. The first is that politicians need to recognize “gun owners as a political group to be addressed.”
For gun control activists, it may seem even more self-evident. Vegter pointed out that “in order to make a difference, you need to match this level of mobilization and participation.”
The latter could be a hard-sell given human nature. Those who value Constitutional Rights may believe there is more to lose with gun control measures, due to a domino effect, than gun-control activists may see at risk if the status quo continues.
That being said, Neuroscience News noted that the ongoing media attention on various members of the student body from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, may change things. This is because, according to Vegter, prior school shootings have never had this much ongoing media attention previously.
Currently, the Huffington Post noted that one of those students from Parkland, Cameron Kasky, is the voice behind a new gun control ad being run by HeadCount.org. The ad reminds viewers that “The voters are coming.”
While there are more non-gun owners than gun owners in America, other important facts of note came out in that Pew study.
One such fact is that approximately four out of every ten adults lives in a gun-owning household. Additionally, almost half of American adults — 48 percent — grew up in a gun-owning household.
Even if those individuals don’t own guns themselves, they may not be completely opposed to them. They may also not be on the side of their non-gun owning, anti-gun counterparts, making it more difficult to get sufficient numbers of people mobilized.
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