A little wishful whistling past the Second Amendment for one professor, Adam Winkler:
The recent deadly shooting at an Oregon community college, like so many before it, isn’t likely to lead to new federal laws designed to curb dangerous people’s access to guns. While this understandably frustrates supporters of gun safety legislation, there is reason for them to be hopeful. The National Rifle Association’s days of being a political powerhouse may be numbered. Why? The answer is in the numbers.
Support for, and opposition to, gun control is closely associated with several demographic characteristics, including race, level of education and whether one lives in a city. Nearly all are trending forcefully against the NRA. The core of the NRA’s support comes from white, rural and relatively less educated voters. This demographic is currently influential in politics but clearly on the wane. While the decline of white, rural, less educated Americans is generally well known, less often recognized is what this means for gun legislation.
Polls show that whites tend to favor gun rights over gun control by a significant margin (57 percent to 40 percent). Yet whites, who comprise 63 percent of the population today, won’t be in the majority for long. Racial minorities are soon to be a majority, and they are the nation’s strongest supporters of strict gun laws.
Academe and the media’s self-loathing for “white” people has always been there, but now that the nation’s demographics indicate that whites will be a minority in a few decades, they can barely contain their glee. The fewer the number of white people, their thinking goes, the easier it will be to get the favorite policy prescriptions passed.
During the 1970s and ’80s, when crime rates were skyrocketing, the self-defense argument easily found an audience. Yet recent years have seen a drastic reduction in crime; today the crime rate is half of what it was in 1980. Given that this drop coincided with a serious economic downturn, which is usually a predictor of an increase in crime, it is not unreasonable to predict that crime rates aren’t likely to climb significantly anytime soon.
Fox Butterfield, is that you?
There is one demographic change that helps the NRA. Americans are aging, and older people tend to favor gun rights over gun control by a slim margin (48 percent to 47 percent). Yet these numbers aren’t radically different from young people (48 percent to 50 percent), so even an aging population won’t be nearly enough to counter the other, stronger demographic shifts.
Of course, the NRA will continue to fight, and fight hard, against gun control. But the heart of the organization’s power is the voters it can turn out to vote, and they are likely to decline in number. Unless the organization begins to soften its no-compromises stance on gun safety legislation, it’s likely to become increasingly marginalized in a changing America.
Leftist propaganda in the pages of the Washington Post? Say it ain’t so!