Mass Shootings

Will Support for Gun Control Spike After Florida? Probably Not, Even Among Young People.

Since the mid-1990s (and despite mass shootings), popular opinion in favor of gun rights has increased. It's unlikely the Parkland massacre will change that.


Carline Jean/TNS/Newscom

In the wake of last week's mass shooting in a Florida high school, there have been heightened calls for gun control. But will the most recent massacre—in which 17 people, mostly students, died—result in substantial changes to laws restricting the ability to own and carry firearms? If the past couple of decades are any guide, the answer is no.

The era of modern mass shootings can be roughly dated to the Columbine High shooting in 1999. You might expect that event to have started a movement for more gun control, but the long-term trends show a very different correlation. Here's data from Pew on surveys that asked people whether they think the government should do more to control gun ownership or protect gun rights. The data, which begins in 1993 and runs through last April (before the Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs shootings last fall), shows a long-term increase in the percentage of Americans supporting gun rights.


CNN pollster Harry Enten writes that "past history suggests that any bump in public opinion in favor of gun control will not hold. The long-term trend is against gun control." That helps explain why Congress, even when it was fully controlled by Democrats in 2009 and 2010, didn't push new laws. He further notes that millennials and younger Americans are no exception:

That young adults aren't any more likely to be in favor of stricter gun laws than the average America is even more remarkable when you consider that young adults today are politically more liberal than young adults at the time of Columbine. In fact, mass shootings didn't make young adults more in favor of gun control than the average American. It may have had the opposite effect.

Such a read is consistent with the notion, which I wrote about yesterday, that younger Americans have positions on issues that cluster very differently than those of who are older. This isn't suprising in any way, but it's worth paying attention to, especially for those of us interested in shifting the direction of U.S. policy. The old alliances, both within movements and among them, are less and less relevant every day and, given the increasing number of individuals who say they are independent and unaffiliated, the future will belong to those who can define a broad-based set of principles for people to rally around.

In the Democratic Party and the left-liberal side of the political spectrum more generally, the glue that held progressives and centrists is breaking down (that's the subtext of the Sanders insurgency in 2016 and the rise of identity politics at the cost of class-based politics). You end up with figures such as Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, who are drug warriors and military interventionists in ways that alienate harder-left elements. At the same time, they are not interventionist enough in the economy to inspire confidence in Bernie fans. Bernie himself isn't quite the right face for a Democratic party or left that wants to talk more about race and gender than class. In the GOP and the broad right, libertarians started peeling away from conservatives immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union; the insistence on foreign-policy adventurism on the part of neoconservatives made that gap still wider, especially given the neocons' general unseriousness about economic policy. The reactionary lifestyle politics doesn't play well with libertarians either and fewer and fewer people in general. Add populism to the mix and the coalition that governed the right since the late 1970s has been shattered enough that a neophyte such as Donald Trump was able to vanquish a dozen-plus well-regarded former governors and sitting senators without breaking a sweat.

What will be the principles around which new political and ideological coalitions form, especially for Americans under 40? The specifics remain to be seen, but if the gun issue is any indication, those organizing ideas will appear random and eclectic to the aging political class barking nightly on cable news. For those of us who prize autonomy, pluralism, and permissionless innovation, they will make more obvious sense. Younger Americans take a pretty robust social-welfare state for granted, which isn't exactly libertarian dogma, but in many and perhaps most other ways, they seem very comfortable in a world overflowing with choice, personalization, and pluralism. All of that sits well with a broadly defined libertarianism. More on that here.

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  1. Millennials don’t matter, anyway. Politicians know they don’t have the attention span to affect elections.

    But flyover America with its insistence on individualism consistently confounds the more enlightened clusters where decisions are made. It won’t be brought to heel by feelz alone.

    1. Millennials don’t matter, anyway

      According to Reason, they’re not listening anyway.

      1. According to Reason, they have cell phones, emojis, and cheap stuff on Amazon, thus the Libertarian moment that began in 2010 is all but sure to arrive any second now. Any second.

  2. What will be the principles around which new political and ideological coalitions form, especially for Americans under 40?

    Perhaps we’ll find out during the March in March.

    1. And the political props commonly known as children, who ostensibly called for this march, will be quickly pushed aside and replaced with the usual big name activists.

      1. This always gets to me. Bunch of teacher’s pets.

  3. Clearly, gun control will spike, due to the persuasive power of democrats and socialists.

    1. Well the President is a NY Democrat, and he just proposed a bump stock ban, so you may be right.

  4. Will Support for Gun Control Spike After Florida?

    Will Support for Spike Control Gun After Florida?

    1. Will Florida for Support Control after Gun?

  5. Since the gun grabbers don’t have enough support to repeal the 2nd Amendment, then I take their FEELZ with a grain of salt.

    I even went out an bought 100 rounds of .50 cal Monday to practice on half inch steel plate targets.

    1. That’s impressive. A half-inch target must be difficult to hit with .50 cal.

      1. Half inch thick, not a half inch square. Still wouldn’t be enough to stop .50 BMG or .50 Beowulf

      2. “half inch steel plate” is the material of which the targets are cut.

        But you KNEW that. Straighten up, or it will be very chipper for you in the morning.

  6. All I know is CNN’s promoting the hell out of some townhall meeting where we’re all expected to listen in rapt attention to the wisdom of some 15 year-old girl who sat in her safe little school where weapons of any sort are banned and almost got her ass shot off so her proposed solution to this problem is to make all areas gun-free zones just like her safe little school. What the actual fuck?

    1. “…we’re all expected to listen in rapt attention to the wisdom of some 15 year-old girl…”

      There’s a reason the voting age is higher than 15.

    2. Creating a gun-free zone is like a honeypot for mass killers.

    3. And any objections to her proposed solution? ” We call BS!”. I wonder if they let the kids refute other things like that in school. “Homework? We call BS!”

      1. Well, you seem to be extremely stupid, since her plan would be flatly illegal, but you’re also probably too stupid to grasp that.

        1. Your remark is a total non sequitur. But okay, no, you’re so stupid and so is your momma. Rev. my ass

          1. yeah, his “rev” has a “rev limiter” on it, that’s set so low he’s not much of a contender. Seems he’s mostly going for the disturbance factor, not the facts.

    4. They’ve got a symbol they can exploit for ideological gain. At no point should public policy ever be directed by an angry, emotional 15 year old but that’s not the point. If saving lives really mattered, CNN and the rest would have been screaming about gun control prior to the latest shooting but they weren’t. CNN as a business sees this as a ratings-getter. CNN as a collection of largely left leaning individuals sees this a chance to further their ideology. But at no point is this about sound policy or finding actual solutions but the choir will tune in to hear the sermon.

      1. If CNN really wanted to save lives, they would have been screaming from the roof tops the last 8 years for the impeachment of 2 of the worst War Criminals in the last 100 years….Obummy & HildaBeast!!!….They make Shrub #2 look like Mr. Rogers!!!….And the lives they would’ve been screaming to save are Muzzos from the Middle East & North Africa, part of the “OPPRESSED” groups the Cultural Marxists love sooooo much!!

  7. the future will belong to those who can define a broad-based set of principles for people to rally around

    If only political parties and policy platforms were a thing…

    1. So, not the LP.

    2. “Blood and Soil” seems to be a rallying point for a good chunk of the electorate. Not very broad-based, but rather punchy, no?

    3. Identity politics certainly seems to be the issue du jour, at least for mainstream Democrats and their media allies. In fact you would think it is about all that matters to them, and everyone else is just deplorable. As for any type of “broad-based” set of principles, that is just plain nerdy and unexciting.

  8. support for gun control

    I hate how people use this term as if there aren’t already tens of thousands of gun control laws/regs in existence.

  9. Meanwhile worthless Sen. Jeff Flake has cosponsored a bill with Dianne Feinstein to raise the age to buy rifles from 18 to 21.

  10. We need to put an end to GUN FREE ZONES that have become killing zones for the disarmed and defenseless. The American public is coming around to this point of view.

    Washington Post-ABC News Poll Feb 2018…

    Q: (You may have heard about the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida this week.) Do you think this event could or could not have been prevented by allowing school teachers to carry guns?
    A: *** Could have been prevented: 42% ***

    — End quote —

    And teachers have heard the message.

    Sheriff offers free CCW class for teachers, 250 sign up in 24 hours…..o-teachers

    1. Some “gun nuts” in Ohio decided to take signficant action in the wake of the Scammy Crooks school shooting in Newtown CT a few years back. They put together an intensive trainiing protocol for school personnel, lined up experienced high end firearms trainers, sought donations from private sources to fund it all, donations in time for instructor and range time, petitioned the state legislature to change the laws to allow armed school staff to carry in the schools, demonstrated with solid statistics how effective it could be, and stressed the “no cost to taxpayers” nature of the plan…. and implemented it. Some 800 teachers and staff now are armed, trained, and may carry their own weapons of choice in their own chosen carry rig, at the schools where they already are…. at no cost to the taxpayers. No one knows for certain, but there does seem to be some good benefit. NOT ONE dangerous incident has occurred at any of the Ohio schools since this programme was put into place. Now other states, Colorado amongst them, are looking in to it.

      OK, so now what has been the response of the gun grabbing whinies since Newtown? And what GOOD have their actions done? Seems here is an ideal situation that only asked government to step aside and let them fix the problem. Not one dime of tax money has been used to put this successful programme into place.

  11. I can understand the anger, despair, and desperation after a massacre. Consider this mind-numbing chronology of some of the large and small massacres in the United States:

    In 1920, anarchists ended the lives of 40 and injured hundreds in New York City’s Wall Street area.

    In 1927, Andrew Kehoe killed 38 elementary school children and 6 adults and wounded at least 58 other people, in what is known as the Bath School Disaster.

    In 1971, an unknown man murdered 30 in The Upstairs Lounge, a gay bar in New Orleans’ French Quarter.

    In 1993, six people were killed and more than 1,000 injured at the World Trade Center in New York City.

    In 1995 Oklahoma City, Timothy McVeigh slaughtered 168 people and injured more than 500.

    In 1998, Theodore Kaczynski pleaded guilty in Sacramento, Calif., to killing three people and wounding 23 during a nationwide murder spree between 1978 and 1995.

    In 2001, nearly 3,000 people were killed by terrorists in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

    In 2013, at the Boston Marathon, Chechen brothers Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev murdered 3 civilians and injured an estimated 264 others.

    But guess what? In every case, no gun was used.

    To grasp how wasteful the gun debates are:

    “Gun Control and Mass Killers”

    Delete the spaces.

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