WILL DEMOGRAPHICS DECIDE THE GUN DEBATE?

WILL DEMOGRAPHICS DECIDE THE GUN DEBATE?

Matt HealeyMonday,28 January 2013

The Snap

Regardless of my personal opinion on the topic – which you can read here and here — I wonder if we are entering a period where shifting demographics are going to shape gun control debates in 10-15 years. If you looked at the demographics of people who supported marriage equality 10 years ago, then you would have realized that it was only a matter of time before the laws would change. The reason was that youth were in favor of equality and older people were opposed. Now 10 years later, we are seeing the results of the demographic shift. Is the same thing going to happen with guns?

The Download

According to The New York Times, there is declining interest in shooting sports. The reasons cited seem to make sense to me. Increased urbanization, greater focus on indoor activities by youth (the negative side effect of this might show up in youth waist lines), and reduced consumer interest. Further investigation has showed that the percentage of Americans who own guns has been on a steadily declining trajectory. There have been periods where ownership has spiked — most recently pistol ownership spiked in the end of 2008 (oh no — scary — a socialist Muslim born in Kenya stole the election – we must arm ourselves!), but the overall trend is towards lower gun ownership.

I think in the gun debate, these demographic shifts will eventually decide the policies. Currently the country is pretty split on gun ownership, so new national laws or law changes are unlikely. However there is a strong regional component to gun ownership. Not surprisingly, the south has the highest percentage of people who own guns with 50%, while the east has the lowest with 22%. So, you can expect that state regulations will likely happen in the east. New York just passed stronger gun laws. You can likely expect more regulation from other eastern states,  and the less regulation in the southern states. The question is will the long term demographic trend shift back towards gun ownership, or continue to shift away from it. This will decide the fate of gun regulations more than any action taken over the next 1-2 years.

Hat Tips

NYT, Declining gun ownership, Gallup poll, Socialist, Muslim, Birthers, Image Credit: Flickr

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