Is America's gun culture fading away?

January 14th, 2008  

Topic: Is America's gun culture fading away?

Is America, land of shooting massacres in schools and public places, slowly falling out of love with guns?
The answer is yes, and it runs counter to popular perceptions of the United States as a country where most citizens are armed to the teeth and believe it is every American's inalienable right to buy an AK 47-style assault rifle with the minimum of bureaucratic paperwork.
But in fact, gun ownership in the United States has been declining steadily over more than three decades, relegating gun owners to minority status.
At the same time, support for stricter gun controls has been growing steadily and those in favour make up a majority. This is a little-reported phenomenon but the trend is shown clearly by statistics compiled by the University of Chicago's National Opinion Research Center (NORC), which has been tracking gun ownership and attitudes on firearms since 1972, the longest-running survey on the subject in the United States.
The number of households with guns dropped from a high of 54 per cent in 1977 to 34.5 per cent in 2006, according to NORC, and the percentage of Americans who reported personally owning a gun has shrunk to just under 22 per cent.
So, by the rules of democratic play, one might assume that the majority would have major influence on legislation. But that's not how it works, thanks to the enormous influence of the gun lobby.
The long-term decline monitored by the Chicago survey has buoyed proponents of tighter gun controls. "America's gun culture is fading," says Josh Sugarmann, who heads the Washington-based Violence Policy Center.
According to Sugarmann, those keeping the culture alive and those most vocal in resisting tighter regulations are white, middle-aged men whose enthusiasm for firearms, hunting and shooting is not shared by younger Americans.
Yet, at the moment it's difficult to imagine the US without its gun culture.
But then, who could have imagined France with a ban on smoking in public places, Germany with speed limits on almost half its autobahns, or a black man as a serious contender in this year's presidential elections in the United States?
To what extent gun ownership will continue to shrink depends, at least in part, on a decision by the US Supreme court expected this summer. The court will rule on one of the most acrimonious disputes in the United States: do Americans have the constitutional right to own and bear arms?
At the heart of the long-running debate, argued with more passion than almost any other, is the meaning of the US constitution's second amendment.
Written 219 years ago, it says: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."
A string of lower court rulings over several decades held that the amendment meant to guarantee the collective right of state militias, not individual citizens. Such rulings have had limited impact: gun regulations vary from state to state and in most, weapons are easy to buy and legal to keep.
There are a few exceptions: handguns are illegal in Chicago and in Washington, where a court ruled in December that its total ban violated the constitution. That is the case the Supreme Court will take up this year.
No matter how it rules, the court's decision is unlikely to make much immediate difference to the mass shootings by unhinged citizens that have become part of American life.
Gun rampages happen with such numbing regularity – on average one every three weeks in 2007 – that they barely make news unless the death toll climbs into double digits, as happened at the Virginia Tech university. There, a student with mental problems killed 32 of his peers and himself.
President George W Bush this week signed into law a bill meant to prevent people with a record of mental disease from buying weapons.
Virginia Tech was the worst school shooting in US history and rekindled the debate over the easy availability of guns in America. There are more private firearms in the United States than anywhere else in the world – at least 200 million.
While that arsenal has been growing every year, the proportion of US households where guns are held has been shrinking. In other words: Fewer people have more guns.
One estimate, by the National Police Foundation, says that 10 per cent of the country's adults own roughly three quarters of all firearms.
That is the hard core, which counts on the gun lobby, chief of all the National Rifle Association (NRA), to throttle attempts to impose restrictions on the sale of firearms.
The NRA, a group that claims some 3 million members, calls itself "America's foremost defender of Second Amendment rights" and backs candidates for political office on their stand on one issue – gun ownership – regardless of party affiliation.
Politicians tend to pander to the NRA, some more shamelessly than others. One of the Republican candidates for the 2008 presidential race, Mitt Romney, went so far as to falsely claim that he was a lifelong hunter and had received an official NRA endorsement in 2002.
Small wonder, then, that the debates following every shooting massacre tend to focus not on the easy availability of guns but on preventive security measures.
Metal detectors at the entrances of shopping malls, for example. Or bullet-proof backpacks. They were developed in the wake of the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School, where two teenagers killed 12 students and teachers and then themselves.
The Columbine-inspired backpacks went on sale in August and have sold briskly. "Sales picked up considerably in the Christmas period," said Mike Pelonzi, one of the two men – both fathers – who designed and market them. "Our market is expanding."
January 14th, 2008  
major liability
I'd like the source on those lesser rampages that don't make it to the news.

Screw bullet-proof backpacks, I'd CC a CZ 75 P-01 if I really feared a school shooting at my college, regardless of the law. Of course, if I got caught with it they'd assume I was going to be doing the shooting.

As for the "white, middle-aged enthusiast" stereotype; simply untrue. Most of my friends like firearms and enjoy shooting, and they're all in their teens or 20s (with a few 50ish exceptions). When I go to the range I see people of all shapes, sizes, colors, and backgrounds shooting, and I live in a mostly white area of upstate New York.

I'm skeptical of the 22% figure as well. There are tons of unregistered firearms out there, in the hands of both otherwise law-abiding folks and career criminals.

It's always sad to see rights stripped from responsible people due to the insanity and foolishness of the few.
January 14th, 2008  
A Can of Man
Be careful when you make laws because the bad guys will not keep it anyway and you'll be making life harder for the law abiding citizens.
January 14th, 2008  
That 22% is 100% pure media-garnished, intentionally misaligned and misrepresented.

States such as AZ, VT, FL and TX do not require registration in any way, shape, form, or fashion of any Title I firearm. That would include all pistols, rifles and shotguns, including so-called "assault rifles," like my unregistered AKs and ARs. Thus, we don't count in the findings (and those 4 aren't the only states). While we do have to have a permit to carry concealed, the amount of weapons we own is not recorded anywhere except for those bought from a dealer, where the 4473 is filed.

I'd also like to note that the two cities they quoted as not allowing guns have the #1 and #2 violent crime rates in this country. Wow, criminals like unarmed victims. Whoda thunk it?

That's exactly what criminals want: Us law-abiding people fighting amongst ourselves and making their job easier. And they are getting their wish!

If you value freedom of any kind, support gun owners as we support you!

January 14th, 2008  
The surveys were probably done in the urban liberal bastions that make gun ownership a pain in the neck anyway. Gun Culture is alive and well in middle America AKA what the libs call fly over country.
January 14th, 2008  
Actually it would surprise me if true. Though I suspect the reason is economic, bad economies mean people have less money to spend on luxuries such as guns. $200-600 can be quite alot of scratch to some.

Originally Posted by 03USMC
The surveys were probably done in the urban liberal bastions that make gun ownership a pain in the neck anyway. Gun Culture is alive and well in middle America AKA what the libs call fly over country.
Why is it people automatically assume liberals don't own guns. Let me take you to upstate NY or to New England sometime. I assure you there are more guns in those areas than there are in some conservative states.

Actually I suspect the reason if true is economic. In a bad economy like right now, people dont have lots of spare cash to spend on things like guns.
January 14th, 2008  
Where did I say liberals didn't own guns? Sure they do. To the point of Fienstien and her ilk saying the unwashed masses don't need them but that she needs her hand gun. And Sarah Brady buying her kid a deer rifle for his b'days.....but I digress.

The major cities (which are mostly controlled by lib govt bodies) make gun ownership difficult with various and sundry laws. New York, San Fran, Chicago etc.
January 14th, 2008  
I believe that "law abiding" people should have the right to keep and bear arms. BUT at the same time unless the deer I hunt form an army and attack me I don't need a AK-47 to hunt them.
January 15th, 2008  
Hmmmm let me take a closer look at those oh-so respectable numbers.

U.S. households in 1980: 80.3 million. (Census)
So if that number of 54% gun-owning households in 1977 is correct, that would mean… there were about 40 million gun-owning households in the U.S. back then? Approximate number of gun-owning households in 2007: 80 million. I see that as about a 100% growth in the number of gun-owning households in thirty years. True, that repesents a decline in the percentage of gun-owning households (54% in 1977; 28% in 2007).

What’s interesting, however, is that gun control legislation passed fairly easily in the late 20th century, and there was a decline in gun-owning households in consequence.

Not that it matters. If 9/11/2001 did nothing else, it woke us up to the fact that it’s folly to be unarmed, and the number of gun-owning households has been growing ever since (and, if I may say so, I’m proud to have been a small participant in causing that growth). And if the so-called “gun culture” is fading that fast in America, somebody please explain to me how the country went from having only a few states with CCW laws in the mid 1990s, to nearly 40 today?

Or why, if gun control is so all-fired popular, we’ve not heard a single word about strengthening gun control from any of our Presidential hopefuls during this campaign? In fact, the precise opposite has happened, with gun-banners Giuliani and Romney groveling before the NRA to assure us that they’re not going to take away our guns, honest.


Of course, the quotes come from the liars at the Violence Policy Center (VPC, a.k.a. Very Pussified Charlatans), so the whole article is suspicious. (Some of my friends think that the whole thing may have been ghost-written by the VPC, as it parrots their propaganda exactly.)

But hey: if a bunch of anti-rights folks want to think we gun owners are a spent force, let ‘em. We know the truth, and it isn’t what was published in that crappy article.

'Nuff Said....


Oh, and on a side note. In the State of Florida it is against the law for any State, County, or City Government Agency to have a list of registered firearms. In Florida there are no "Registered Firearms" because it is not needed and against the State Law. Other states also do not force their citizens to register their firearms. There is no Firearm Registration on a Federal Level either except for NFA Class III Firearms (Machine Guns, Short Barreled Rifle/Shotgun, Suppressors). So the numbers of firearms in the USA owned by law abiding citizens are far higher then what is reported anyways since there is not a actual number that can be quoted and cited as example.
January 15th, 2008  
major liability
I know a lot of gun owners up here in Upstate New York. With very few exceptions, they vote red.

I'm torn between my ideals and my gun ownership. I'm not sure I like where the country is headed with the Republicans (not that Dems are any better at this point), but I can't in good conscience vote for someone who will try to tighten restrictions on firearms.

Similar Topics
40 Reasons to Support Gun Control
Where gun control leads
Press Ignores FBI Study Saying Gun Laws Ignored by Cop Killers
"'Cultural Marxism' at the U.S. Naval Academy"