The firearms lobby wants people to understand the debate over gun rights as one dividing gun owners from the larger American public. But as former Bush speechwriter David Frum wrote last week in The Atlantic, at the vanguard of the gun rights movement is a small group of Americans who perceive themselves as being under siege by the modern world.
He describes them as “a compact and self-conscious minority, for whom guns represent an ideology even more than a sport or hobby.”
Republicans are nearly twice as likely to own a gun as Democrats are.
White Americans are twice as likely to own a gun as nonwhite Americans.
Among Americans under age 30, only about one in five owns a gun. Among Americans over age 50, one in three owns a gun.
Nearly half of men own a gun; only 13 percent of women do.
Southerners are 50 percent more likely to own a gun than Easterners, the South being the most gun-owning region and the East being the least.
Add it all up, and the core gun constituency looks a lot like the Tea Party on the firing range: Two-thirds of American households own no guns at all. The vast majority of households that own a gun own only one. Opposing them, a small minority—about 6 percent of American households—have amassed 65 percent of the nation’s privately owned firearms. That group is very white, very Southern, and very conservative indeed.
This small group is seized by a profound sense of loss and alienation from the American majority.
That group is also highly politicized — they’re the driving force behind the organized gun rights movement.
Frum’s distinction between gun zealots and the majority of gun owners is borne out by public opinion polls. As Cliff Schecter wrote in 2012, polls find that a majority of gun-owners are in favor of closing the gun-show loophole (85 percent of all gun owners, and 69 percent of NRA members). Eighty-two percent of NRA members believe that people on the federal terror watch list should be barred from buying firearms, a measure the organization opposed, and almost seven in 10 NRA members disagreed with the lobby’s efforts to prevent law enforcement from determining the origins of weapons used in crimes.
Ultimately, the gun lobby is a serious threat to public safety, so a new campaign by Generation Progress rallies young people to push back against the NRA and its allies. The campaign for sensible gun safety laws is called #Fight4The33 — a nod to the 33 Americans who on average are murdered with a firearm every day.
They’ve produced a moving and effective music video with recording artist Jon Batiste. Watch it below, and share it with your social networks.