Pew: Majority of gun owners vote GOP, say guns ‘essential to personal freedom’


New Pew Research report says most NRA members vote Republican. They helped put Donald Trump in the White House, and he visited with NRA’s Chris Cox (left) and Wayne LaPierre at the NRA convention in Atlanta this year. (Dave Workman)

A recent Pew Research survey has confirmed what many might believe is obvious, that a majority of gun owners “are Republicans or lean to the Republican Party” and that National Rifle Association members “skew even more heavily to the political right than other gun owners.”

While many people might dismiss such a finding as a no-brainer, it should send alarms to moderate Democrats who want to change their image as “the party of gun control.” It could also signal Republicans now controlling Congress to act on legislation important to that powerful voting bloc, such as the Hearing Protection Act and National Concealed Carry Reciprocity.

According to Pew, 61 percent of gun owner are Republicans or lean that way, while 77 percent of gun owners who are also NRA members go with the GOP. Only 20 percent say they are Democrats. Among gun owners who are not NRA members, Pew added, 58 percent are Republicans and 39 percent are Democrats.
With data like that, it is no wonder why Democrats have a tough time convincing gun owners to support their agenda. There are exceptions, of course. Some mavericks buck the tide in parts of Washington, Oregon and other western states, but they seem to be an increasingly rare breed.

The Pew survey was released earlier this month with not much notice or fanfare.

Perhaps the most important revelation is that a whopping 92 percent of NRA members say that gun ownership is “essential to their personal freedom,” while only 70 percent of non-NRA gun owners share that opinion. Still, it’s an overwhelming majority, and that’s bad news for policy architects in the Democratic Party who steadfastly adhere to a gun control agenda.

Another revelation from Pew flies in the face of gun prohibition lobbyists who constantly portray gun owners as largely ignorant and careless with firearms. Pew researchers discovered that 84 percent of NRA members have taken some type of firearms safety course, as have 67 percent of gun owners who are not NRA members.

This suggests that gun control groups that portray themselves – or are described by the press – as “gun safety” organizations really have no business making such claims. When it comes to gun safety, it appears to be the NRA leading the charge, followed by non-member gun owners. Gun control groups might be somewhere in their trailing dust cloud.

An earlier report from Pew revealed that 66 percent of gun owners own more than one firearm, and roughly 30 percent own five or more guns.

The recent Pew data come from surveys conducted March 13-27 and April 4-18.

When it comes to the gun control agenda, Republican gun owners who are also NRA members are less likely to support certain measures than Republican gun owners who are not NRA members.

For example, only 52 percent of NRA members support background checks for private sales at gun shows while 75 percent of non-NRA members favor such checks.

Only 29 percent of NRA members support creating a national data base to track gun sales, while 47 percent of non-members agree.

Banning so-called “assault weapons” is another non-starter, with only 28 percent of NRA members supporting that idea and 41 percent of non-member gun owners in concurrence.

Forget about selling a magazine ban to NRA members, because only 23 percent support the idea and 35 percent of Republican gun owners in general would agree.

Gun-owning Republican NRA members are also more prone to support “constitutional carry” without a license, and by large majorities also think concealed carry should be allowed in more places. They also favor allowing armed teachers in K-12 schools.

The proverbial bottom line is that pronouncements about NRA members supporting this or that gun control scheme do not appear to be accurate, and when gun prohibition lobbying groups are portrayed as “gun safety” organizations, that amounts to “fake news.”

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