Gun Control

We Are Way More Scared of Government Than Guns

President Obama's urgency on gun control is at odds with what people are really worried about.



The first major action taken by Barack Obama in 2016—a set of new gun-control measures mandated via executive order—is aimed at a threat that Americans don't spend a lot of time worrying about.

In its latest survey of Americans, Gallup finds that "dissatisfaction with government," not guns or even terrorism, tops the list of concerns:

According to Gallup's monthly measure of the most important problem facing the U.S., an average of 16% of Americans in 2015 mentioned some aspect of government, including President Barack Obama, Congress or political conflict, as the country's chief problem. The economy came in second with 13% mentioning it, while unemployment and immigration tied for third at 8%.

More here.

Obama's new actions against guns include expanding background checks; changing definitions of mental illness in a way that limits who is able to own guns; increasing the number of federal agents charged with tracking gun sales and crimes; and more.

As Jacob Sullum noted here in December, most of the "common-sense" measures Obama is pushing would not have stopped the San Bernardino shooting or virtually any other recent mass attacks.

Because violent crime, including gun-related crime and murders, is way down, gun-control issues don't generally capture the public imagination the way that they would in a world of increasing murder rates. In the same Gallup survey that listed "dissatisfaction with government" as the top concern for each of the past two years, "guns/Gun control" was considered "the most important problem" by 2 percent of respondents, about the same who listed "lack of respect for each other" and pollution.

Yet Obama pushes forward with measures that even he acknowledges "will save few lives," almost certainly more out of politics than an interest in dealing with the most serious problems facing the country.

As Alexis Simendinger writes at RealClearPolitics:

During Obama's White House tenure, the percentage of Americans who say they support the rights of gun owners has increased. In particular, support among Republicans for gun rights rose after 2000.

But liberal Democrats, women, African-Americans, Latinos, urban dwellers, and Americans with college and post-graduate degrees say they favor controls on gun ownership. In other words, Obama's 2008 and 2012 coalitions back gun restrictions.

The president would be wiser to focus on addressing concerns over which he has at least some influence: the size, scope, and spending of government. That's what people are worried about (indeed, over the past several years, more than twice as many people say that "big government" is a bigger "threat to the future of the country" than "big buisness" and "big labor" combined.

Obama's willingness to always pivot to issues that are not front and center, along with his willingness to expand the role of the state in virtually every aspect of our lives from health care to mass surveillance is surely a big part of the reason why people are consistently worried more about government than anything else. In this, of course, he's had plenty of help from Republicans and his fellow Democrats, which also helps to explain another Gallup finding released this time last year: "In U.S. New Record 43% Are Independents."

NEXT: The 'Pink Tax' Is a Myth

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  1. Even the Jacket isn’t immune to the effects of the squirrels.

    1. My last pay check was $9500 working 12 hours a week online. My sisters friend has been averaging 15k for months now and she works about 20 hours a week. I can’t believe how easy it was once I tried it out. This is what I do..

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  2. I have staunch Democrat friends who are avid hunters (they’re the union variety of staunch Democrat) who insist that Barack Obama doesn’t want to take anyone’s guns. They scoff at the idea. It’s amazing how successfully each of the two major factions of Democrats ignores the other and its glaring differences. I guess they seem united in the idea of more government, and that’s enough to build that marriage on.

      1. My last pay check was $9500 working 12 hours a week online. My sisters friend has been averaging 15k for months now and she works about 20 hours a week. I can’t believe how easy it was once I tried it out. This is what I do..

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    1. I work in a unionized industry (railroad) and I cannot believe there are still this many white, blue collar democrats out there. Hello, the left does nothing but spit in your face and try to make you a cuckold, but you’re still going to vote for these maggots? Not to mention the fact that the unions *heavily* promote democrat politics, then democrats get in power and these guys don’t make the connection between that and the disappearance of the coal trains.

  3. At 69 I am more afraid of cops and the Federal government than any two bit thug running the street. 90% of cops are small town cops. All to often they are the school bullies or kids that were picked on by bullies to the point of having severe mental issues. Why would someone take a job that actually paid less than Walmart and live in poverty if they didn’t have mental problems.
    When I was about 14 I ask my dad what what he would do to make government better as part of a school assignment. He stated that the only way to straighten out our government was to execute all existing politicians and then pass a law that no lawyer could run for office. He said if you were smart enough to write the laws you were smart enough to break them. As I have grown older I come to believe than that lawyers are one step lower than pedophiles. There is not a single a single candidate running for President that is worth a spit. If anyone in this country still had a brain they would probably start a revolution.

    1. MY father said that in 50 years this country would be in control of Muslims. I laughed, but am wondering.

      1. It’s strange that illegal drugs isn’t even on the list, but was number one a couple of decades ago.

  4. Time to go buy some stock in gun and ammo manufacturers.

    1. Sturm-Ruger is publicly traded, and is doing quite well.

    2. Unfortunately the time to do that was in 2008. Ruger is up something like 700% since then.

    3. As of 11:40, Smith and Wesson (SWHC) is up over 11% today. Sturm Ruger (RGR) is trading up over 7%.

  5. It seems to me that this survey is not be interpreted accurately. First of all, if someone lists Government/Congress/Politicians as the most important problem facing the United States, that does not imply that they are “scared” of government. Indeed, I am a liberal, and I too would also be likely to list Government/Congress/Politicians as the most important problem. But that is because, unlike some libertarians who think it is great when the government doesn’t do anything, I believe that government dysfunction (i.e. the inability to get stuff done) diminishes our country and prevents us from more fully reaching our full potential.

    For the record, I do not support President Obama on gun control. When it comes to trading freedom for safety, I am not one that is usually willing to make the trade. (And I do not doubt that, for example, a program of massive gun confiscation would decrease gun deaths. It is just that I believe that some degree of risk is the price we pay for living in a free society.) But that said, at least this survey does not support the headline of this article, which asserts that people are “scared” of government.

    1. (i.e. the inability to get stuff done)

      Like what? Seriously. I don’t see how government getting stuff done does any good for society. Quite the opposite. When I see government doing something I see coercion and violence, I see people being prevented from engaging in economic activities, while others are forced to follow idiotic rules written by people with no clue as to what they are writing about. I see a country with more people in prison per capita, and every time the government gets stuff done that means more people going to prison. Sorry, but the government that governs the best is the government that governs the least. The less the government gets done, the better off we are as a society.

    2. Gun confiscation would decrease gun deaths? Not for those doing the confiscating.

      1. Or being confiscated from.

        Or those around them.

        Remember Waco was a gun control action.

        1. Black helicopters that don’t exist? hrc

        2. Ruby Ridge started over a dude sawing down shotgun barrels.

    3. What stuff – specifically – needs to get done. I would have like a real budget sometime during the first 7 years of Obama’s rule. Couldn’t get that simple function accomplished.

    4. “. . . diminishes our country and prevents us from more fully reaching our full potential.”
      You got a mouse in your pocket? The Dems and Republicans tore up the social contract a long time ago and replaced it with the socialist/statist manifesto.
      I have no obligation to serve some utopian ideology that you and your mouse can direct my life in a way that promotes your delusional ideological visions of “reaching our full potential”.
      What diminishes our country more than shitting all over the Constitution?

    5. If only we had the right people everything would be okay. They could just pass all the right common-sense laws and just put all the dangerous people in prison. If only “government dysfunction” could be ended and we could ALL just work towards the same goals that we ALL agree are worth our labor and capital (that we or our loved ones have worked years for).

  6. We should not be surprised that the administration chooses to use executive power so early in the year and on a subject far less important to many Americans than other topics. He remains the least effective, most do NOTHING president in recent history. One has to go back to his partner in leftist lunacy, Jimmy Carter to find a more incompetent president. or one more out of touch with what the country needs and wants.

    1. He is steadily advancing the NWO.
      Not that hard to figure out…

    2. I’d take a do nothing president over a busybody president.

      With a do nothing president, things can’t get worse.

    3. That’s a feature, not a bug.

  7. “the Administration is proposing a new $500 million investment to help engage individuals with serious mental illness” – This is the worst part. Government ‘treatment’ is really just ‘mental illness indoctrination’ and only creates fodder for a huge new beaurocracy, not to mention people who believe that “If I stop taking this pill I might become a mass murderer.” (That’s right, half a BILLION.)

  8. I don’t know who is more revolting – a radicalized rancher or a government public land bureaucrat. Both are on a power trip and like to throw their weight around. Ranchers (of all stripes) feel entitled to public lands and public land managers feel it is their obligation to give it to them. The managers literally cowtow to ranchers interests. Hiking and ATV trails are declared off limits – yet still grazed. Wilderness is wrapped around existing roads. Major recreation areas are full of cows. Why are they at odds?

    Even though their primary responsibility is to the extraction and grazing interests, every once in a while the concerns of the rest of the public (environmental, financial and recreation) enter into the consciousness of the manager and he/she makes an effort to placate the general public (ranchers really hate this – meaning they have to pay for grazing and can’t slash and burn as they see fit). I guess this is the rub. Can the lands really have two kings?

    I haven’t mentioned the unmentionable – the EPA. While the BLM would love to let miners mine, the EPA makes ’em jump through hoops. They even try to force them to mine safely – terrorists! I wouldn’t go that far, of course, but regulators are so full of themselves, they are the true embodiment of irrational minutia enforcement.

    All this said, I would like to see a better balance of use of the public lands, especially the national forests.

    1. Cowtow. I see what you did there.

    2. I do see some of this. While most ranchers are just glad to have what they own and lease (and damn do they pay the property taxes), many seem to think they are victims because of land issues. Rather than being aghast at the fact the federal gov’t owns so much property smack in the middle of private interests, they are bothered that they don’t get more special treatment than other citizens using public land.

  9. Obama says he studied the ‘constitution.’

    However, the constitution he studied was the communist constitution and not the US Constitution.

    1. “Studied”. Any 5th grader could read it in an hour.

  10. Less gun control, MORE GOVERNMENT CONTROL!
    Background checks for politicians should include releasing all college records.

    1. You WANT to be a politician? You must be crazy so you are automatically disqualified. Hey, this is fun.

  11. Google pay 97$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
    This is wha- I do…… ??????

  12. sounds like common sense government control measures are needed. We need better background checks to prvent any more Chicago Thug Politicians from being elected to any office more important than dog catcher.

  13. “…The president would be wiser…”

    Laugh line of the day.

  14. Given that Gun Control is a losing issue for the Dems (ie. almost every time they try it they lose elections) why is Obama (PBHN) pushing it right now especially considering how short term his proposed solutions really are?

    Does he honestly think that this time it is a winner? Even though he has done nothing but sell more guns for as long as he has been the president.

    Does he believe he is correct so much that he will sacrifice his party in order to do this? I am leaning towards this reason; see “Obamacare”.

    Is he secretly a conservative and is really pushing gun ownership?

    Is this another step towards the “You want to own a gun? You must be crazy to want that so you have automatically disqualified yourself.” goal?

    1. A crazy theory: the President’s economic advisers foresee an imminent financial meltdown much worse than the 2008 recession which they know will be blamed on whoever is power at the time. As a Democrat, he wants to make sure the party of Free Shit Paid for by Someone Else isn’t left holding the bag.

      But back in reality, it’s probably because he’s a Marxist ideologue.

  15. When a People fear their Government, there is Tyranny.
    When a Government fears the People, there is Liberty!

  16. As they say, “there are lies, damned lies and then there’s statistics.” ..Polls can be used to be misleading. By focusing on a list of priorities, the author has cleverly (for those that never took Testing and Statistics in college) misstated the issue. This recent poll for example is very clear that most Americans on all sides of the fence understand that we need to do something about our gun deaths in the US. And isn’t this exactly what Obama has called for? :

    Poll: Would you support background checks on people buying guns at shows or online?” Dems: 95% yes, 5% no. Repubs: 87% yes, 12% no.

    BTW, this same question elicited an 82% yes from gun owners.

    1. Polls can be used to be misleading–like when the left pulls them out of thin air all. the. time. And if you think a public poll is somehow a final word on anything, you are a collectivized parasite who depends on others to tell him what is right (which is what makes a leftist a leftist).

  17. According to the Centers for Disease Control we have approximately 33,200 deaths annually due to firearms. According the sociologist, R. J. Rummel’s research, in the last century there were 128,168,000 deaths due to government. That averages 1,281,680 lives per year. In other words, government kills 3,760% more people that its citizens do with guns.
    The founders wrote the Constitution to “disarm” the government of power not the citizens of guns. James Madison and his buddies were neither power-hungry nor stupid.

  18. How did this idiot rag and the shit-for-brains, Nick Gallespie, get through my spam filter? I haven’t been bother with any of unReason nonsense for almost 3 weeks and then this email turd shows up! So I thought I would follow the link and all gillespie and his leftwing, dumbass rag a few names.

    You will never get my money gillespie because you are a fucking open borders idiot. Fuck you and all the shitheads at unReason. Go suck some more obama cock and stay out of my email box.

    1. So, in other words, you don’t know how email lists work.

      1. Evidently we need to adjust the “retard filters” on Reason’s comment section.

  19. A tyrant with the force of government behind him is unfathomably more dangerous than individuals with their own guns but no authority to impose their will on others.

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