Considering how much the media has been pushing the gun-control narrative, I was a bit surprised to see this article from NPR. Though, on further consideration, I’m not really all that surprised: NPR does at least try to report things factually, and to confront their internalized bias much more so than other major media outlets.
Some choice quotes:
Some have called [high school students -AZR] the “voice of a generation on gun control” that may be able to turn the tide of a long-simmering debate.
But past polling suggests that people under 30 in the U.S. are no more liberal on gun control than their parents or grandparents — despite diverging from their elders on the legalization of marijuana, same-sex marriage and other social issues.
This doesn’t surprise me me: young people have access to a vast amount of information, social networking, etc. This allows them to network with other like-minded people even if they’re physically distant. Online forums, blogs, discussion boards, YouTube videos, Facebook groups, etc. allow for those interested in gun rights to meet and discuss guns without many downsides.
Plus, there’s a lot more information about there showing people having fun with guns in safe, responsible ways, from hunting to competition to plinking. Guns aren’t some mystery hidden away that nobody in certain social groups ever sees or interacts with, as they were when I grew up in the 80s and early 90s, but something that one can easily learn about, experience, and communicate with without leaving the comfort of one’s own home.
Over the past three years, [polling organization Gallup -AZR] asked the under-30 crowd if gun laws in the U.S. should be made more strict, less strict or kept as they are now. On average, people between the ages of 18 and 29 were one percentage point more likely to say gun laws should be more strict than the overall national average of 57 percent.
Polling by the Pew Research Center last year came to similar conclusions: 50 percent of millennials, between the ages of 18 and 36, said that gun laws in the U.S. should be more strict. That share was almost identical among the general public, according to Kim Parker, director of social trends research at Pew.
Sounds about right.
I thought this bit was really interesting:
Pew did find significant differences between millennials and older generations on two gun control proposals — banning assault-style weapons and banning high-capacity ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. The results showed that a greater share of millennials — both Republicans and Democrats — are more conservative when it comes to those bans compared to Generation X-ers, Baby Boomers and members of the Silent Generation.
“What we’re hearing now in the immediate aftermath of Parkland might not be representative of what a whole generation feels,” Parker says.
That’s great news, and again unsurprising: the older generation of gun owners (“Gun Culture 1.0”) tends to be more interested in hunting, sporting clays, and other sporting usages of guns, while the younger shooters are more interested in self-defense, competition, and modern weapons.
Still, there’s a question mark about the future:
The teenaged high school activists who have been organizing since the Florida shooting, they say, are part of a separate group some call “Generation Z.” Pollsters generally don’t count the views of those under 18, so there probably won’t be national polling on this group until more of these young people are officially adults.
Hopefully we can bring these young people into the fold. I know I’ll try with my kids.
Still, for 19-year-old Abigail Kaye, who considers herself a millennial, these polling results about her peers come as a shock.
“I think that’s surprising because I feel like we’re a more progressive generation,” says Kaye, who attends the University of Delaware.
I don’t doubt she feels that way, since she grew up in Rhode Island and lives in Delaware. She’s living in a small anti-gun bubble that’s essentially the gun-related version of “How could Nixon have won? Nobody I know voted for him!”
Unfortunately, not all the young people interviewed are familiar with guns. Or physics, really:
Sitting outside a student center on the University of Delaware’s campus, Cahlil Evans of Smyrna, Del., 20, says while he doesn’t need a gun, he can understand why people would want hunting rifles and handguns. He draws the line, though, for assault-style rifles.
“There’s no need for these high-caliber rifles that pierce through walls,” Evans says. “People can say they use them for hunting or whatever, but why do you need a weapon with such high caliber that it would pierce through the animal and like eight trees behind it?”
It appears the gun controller’s efforts to depict common semi-auto rifles as extremely high-powered death machines have met with some receptive minds. We, as the gun owning community, really need to do more outreach to correct these misconceptions.
The article ends on a high note, which inspires some optimism in these turbulent times:
Still, 22-year-old Jeremy Grunden of Harrington, Del., says he’s encouraged to hear that millennials are less likely to support banning assault-style weapons.
“I base what we need off of what the military has,” says Grunden, who is president of Students for the Second Amendment at the University of Delaware. “When it comes to … the Second Amendment, we’re supposed to be a well-armed and well-maintained militia and all that. Quite frankly, we need that and plus more.”
Nicely done Mr. Grunden. Keep up the good work.
Personally, I’m disappointed that NPR consider gun control to be a “liberal” thing and gun rights to be a “conservative” thing. Sure, people and positions have become more polarized and ossified in recent years, but I like to think of gun rights as a “liberty” thing that is independent of political sides. I may be alone in that viewpoint, however, and I think that it’ll be a problem for gun rights going forward. Sure, millennials may have similarly pro-gun-rights positions as us somewhat older folks (says the guy from the “Oregon Trail generation” of the early 80s), but if their other political positions (e.g., those on gay rights, abortion, health care, Trump, etc.) align more with the Democrats (who are decidedly anti-gun), their interest and support for gun rights won’t amount to much.
On a related note, one aspect of the NRA’s media strategy over the last few years has irked me greatly. They’ve really been pushing this whole “cultural bundling”, “anti-liberal” thing of late, and that’s been incredibly off-putting to both young people, liberals (yes, there are gun-owning liberals), libertarians, etc. Yes, the NRA needs to be outspoken about gun rights and opposing gun control, but I’d really love to see them be a bit less divisive and more appealing to non-conservatives. Same goes for other major groups like the GOA (which is very right-wing).