Sur­vey: Gun own­ers more likely to en­gage in pol­i­tics

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY DAVID SHERFINSKI

The ma­jor­ity of Amer­i­cans fa­vor stricter gun con­trols, but gun own­ers are much more likely to be po­lit­i­cally ac­tive and to con­tact pub­lic of­fi­cials about their be­liefs, ac­cord­ing to a new sur­vey that goes a long way to­ward ex­plain­ing the po­lit­i­cal power of Sec­ond Amend­ment ad­vo­cates.

Twenty-one per­cent of gun own­ers said they have con­tacted pub­lic of­fi­cials about their feel­ings on the is­sue, in­clud­ing 9 per­cent who had done so in the last year, ac­cord­ing to the Pew Re­search Cen­ter. Just 12 per­cent of nonown­ers said they have ever con­tacted a pub­lic of­fi­cial on the sub­ject.

Twenty-eight per­cent of gun own­ers also re­ported giv­ing money to groups that take po­si­tions on gun pol­icy, in­clud­ing 12 per­cent in the last year, com­pared to 10 per­cent of nonown­ers who say they’ve ever given money on the is­sue.

In gen­eral, Amer­i­cans side with the gun con­trol ad­vo­cates, with 52 per­cent of adults fa­vor­ing stricter con­trols, 30 per­cent say­ing cur­rent laws are about right, and 18 per­cent who say the laws should be less strict.

But those numbers just don’t trans­late to the vot­ing booth, said Erich Pratt, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Gun Own­ers of Amer­ica.

“In­ter­est­ingly, you see far less sup­port for back­ground checks when the is­sue is put to the bal­lot,” Mr. Pratt said. “For ex­am­ple, even while Maine voted for Hil­lary Clin­ton in 2016, the state voted down a univer­sal back­ground check mea­sure.”

Pew reg­u­larly asks Amer­i­cans to pick whether gun con­trols or Sec­ond Amend­ment rights are more im­por­tant, and while gun rights last year held a slim ma­jor­ity at 52 per­cent, this year the gun con­trol stance was tops at 51 per­cent.

More than 80 per­cent of peo­ple in the new sur­vey also said they fa­vor items ex­pand­ing gun-pur­chase back­ground checks and ban­ning gun pur­chases by peo­ple on no-fly or gov­ern­ment watch lists.

“Over­all, these re­sults are an­other en­cour­ag­ing sign for the over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of us who know we can do more to re­duce the un­ac­cept­able rates of gun vi­o­lence we have in this coun­try,” said Shan­non Watts, founder of Moms De­mand Ac­tion for Gun Sense in Amer­ica.

But even af­ter the 2012 New­town school shoot­ings, when there ap­peared to be some­what of an ap­petite for stricter laws, gun con­trol ad­vo­cates have had dif­fi­culty notch­ing leg­isla­tive vic­to­ries. Mea­sures to ex­pand gun-pur­chase back­ground checks failed in a Demo­crat-con­trolled U.S. Se­nate in 2013, and states have had mixed re­sults in re­cent years on their own ef­forts.

Alan Got­tlieb, chair­man of the Ci­ti­zens Com­mit­tee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, said that’s be­cause the gun con­trol move­ment over­reaches.

“The prob­lem is that terms like back­ground checks do not of­ten re­flect the ac­tual con­tent of leg­isla­tive pro­pos­als,” Mr. Got­tlieb said. “The best ex­am­ple is univer­sal back­ground checks turn out to be univer­sal reg­is­tra­tion of guns and their own­ers.”

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