Historic numbers of law-abiding Americans joined the gun-owning community for the first time in recent years, including large numbers of women and minorities. National gun control groups at the same time continue to shout for stricter gun control laws.
As Americans take up their rights, tune out the gun control industry, and personally navigate the process to legally buy a firearm, one thing’s becoming clearer. They reject stricter gun control.
Support for Gun Control Slides
Nearly 40 million firearms were legally purchased by Americans between January 2020 and December 2021. Industry data revealed that included roughly 10 million first-time buyers. They’d had enough of feeling unsafe due to riots, looting and the defund-the-police movement and they embraced their Second Amendment rights.
The gun-buying pace has continued this year and November marked the 39th month in a row of at least 1 million FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) verifications processed. Surprising no one in the firearm industry, the ongoing gun buying spree has coincided with a drop in support for stricter gun control laws.
According to The Hill, the percentage of Americans supporting stricter gun laws has fallen nine points since June. The latest Gallup poll shows 57 percent of U.S. adults “desire stricter gun laws,” compared to 66 percent in June. When Gallup first began tracking Americans’ feelings on gun control 30 years ago, support for stricter laws registered nearly 80 percent.
The Changing Face of Gun Ownership
National gun control groups and an anti-gun media frequently caricature the American gun owner as an old white man stockpiling firearms. That characterization just doesn’t hold true.
Gun owners are increasingly female with large percentage jumps in minority gun ownership too, including African Americans, Hispanic Americans and Asian Americans. Earlier this year, NBC News finally reported on “Why more black people are looking for safety in gun ownership.” The report highlighted NSSF industry data showing 90 percent of gun retailers reported a “general increase” of black customers, including an 87 percent increase among Black women.
A headline from The Cut reads, “The New Face of American Gun Ownership – Black women are pushing against the (white, rural, and male) stereotype.” “In recent years, story after story has furthered the narrative that Black women are the fastest-growing group of gun owners in the country,” The Cut’s report said, adding black women now make up a majority of the 40,000 members of the National African American Gun Association (NAAGA).
These trends are reflected in the new Gallup poll as well.
“Gun ownership among women has swelled from the low teens to more than 20 percent over the past 15 years, while it has remained in the low to mid-40s among men during the same period,” the poll shows.
As more law-abiding Americans learn firsthand about the restrictions forced on them in order to exercise their Constitutional right to own a gun, their understanding of gun control changes and are in turn rejecting it. After all, criminals don’t follow any of these laws when they illegally obtain firearms used in their crimes.
Failing Election Strategy
That message might be starting to resonate with gun control groups. The recent declines in public support for more gun control was reflected in recent advertising campaigns leading up to the midterm elections. In Florida, for example, national gun control groups spent millions trying to persuade voters – specifically Hispanic Americans – that they needed more gun control in their lives. Those voters, turned off by the race-based targeting and also their history with gun control in countries like Cuba, voted pro-Second Amendment, flipping four seats in southern Florida from blue to red.
In Texas, Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke tried yet again to win in Texas with a gun control message platform only to be rejected in the governor’s race. Gun control groups again spent big to help O’Rourke, but the third time wasn’t the charm.
Gun control operations – Everytown for Gun Safety, Giffords and Brady – have been virtually absent from the high-stakes senate runoff race in Georgia, where staunchly pro-gun Gov. Brian Kemp easily won reelection just one month ago, with a strong message of supporting the firearm industry and safe legal gun ownership.
Gun control groups may keep running their same playbook of trying to push for more restrictions and fewer rights. The American people are making their message known loud and clear: they aren’t buying more gun control. They’re buying firearms.
Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.