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Saturday, July 11, 2015

Washington Post Blogger Encourages Hillary to Keep Talking About Gun Control

What a difference between 2008 and 2016..  During 2008, Hillary Clinton rarely talked about gun control during her campaign for the Democratic nomination.  Democrats did not want to talk about guns in congressional elections either in 2010 and 2012.  That all changed after the Sandy Hook school shooting.  The Charleston church shooting gave them even more resolve.  Hillary Clinton doesn't shy away from the subject.


On Friday, the Washington Post Plum Line blog's Paul Waldman encouraged her to keep talking about it, even though she is unlikely to get anything passed if she is elected:
Let’s address the matter of the gun issue’s political potency first. As is the case on so many issues, the Republican position is more popular when the questions are vague, while the Democratic position is more popular when the questions are specific. If you look at polling on guns, what you see is that the country is split pretty evenly on the broad question of whether gun laws should be more strict or less strict. But particular measures to regulate guns get much more support, especially universal background checks, which as many as nine out of ten Americans endorse.

At some point in this discussion, someone will always say: “But what about the NRA? They’re so powerful!” The NRA’s power is real in some ways and illusory in others, and it’s important to understand which is which. When it comes to lobbying, the NRA is indeed hugely powerful. It has the ability to stop any legislation on guns, often before it even gets written. But elections are an entirely different story. Almost all the congressional candidates who win the NRA’s supposedly coveted endorsement are Republican incumbents from conservative districts who win their elections by huge margins. When Republicans have a good election, as they did in 2014 and 2010, the NRA rushes to reporters to claim credit, saying the election proves that voters will punish any candidate who isn’t pro-gun. But when Democrats have a good election, as they did in 2012 and 2008, the NRA is strangely silent.
Waldman also trots out the gun ban lobby's talking point that gun ownership has steadily declined since the 1970's, inferring that sooner or later, there won't be enough gun owners to matter.  Waldman links to a New York Times article that sites the General Social Survey (GSS) for it's source to back up the claim of declining gun ownership.  But other surveys show very different data related to gun ownership. The Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC) has pointed out:
...the GSS survey shows a large drop that you don’t see in many other surveys.  According to Gallup, in October 2011, they wrote: At 47%, reported gun ownership is the highest it has been in nearly two decades — a finding that may be related to Americans’ dampened support for gun-control laws.”
CRPC notes that a more accurate way is to look at the number of firearm permits year over year.  While few states require licensing of gun owners, Illinois requires a Firearms Owner ID or FOID card to own a firearm.  If the number of cards increase, it stands to follow that is because there are new gun owners who have applied for those cards.  You can also look at the number of concealed carry permits:
The number of concealed handgun permits also provide some information, with the number of permits increasing from about 4.6 million in 2007 to well over 9.3 million at the beginning of 2013.
All you have to do is talk to firearm instructors to know that all those new firearm purchases were not made by current gun owners.  It simply does not make since that someone who has owned firearms for years would all of a sudden start signing up for firearms training classes.  Ask any firearms instructor and they will tell you they see a lot of first time gun owners in their classes.  Now if we could just get them all to vote to protect their freedom.

But to Waldman's larger point that Hillary should continue to talk about the issue, let's hope gun owners see the real threat of another four years of an anti-rights Democrat in the White House and will do what it takes to see it does not happen.

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