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'Gun Politics Is Where the Easy Caricature of America’s Radicalized Youth Marching Toward Socialism Ends'

Young Americans don't fit into dying 20th-century culture-war tribes.

ReasonReasonPolitico has published a genuinely fascinating article about younger Americans and their willingness to confound establishment expectations when it comes to gun rights. [Note: The Politico story was published last October, two weeks after the Las Vegas shooting. I should have foregrounded that in the original post.]

The jumping-off point of the story is that millennials (variously defined as those between the ages of 18 to 29, or people under 40-years old) seem to be left-wing on such issues as marriage equality, more-open immigration, drug legalization, for instance. But they also seem to be pretty right-wing on guns, despite having come on age in the post-Columbine era of semi-regular school shootings.

From Ben Wofford's October 2017 account:

Gun politics is where the easy caricature of America's radicalized youth marching toward socialism ends. It remains one of the few arenas in which a younger generation's views are not emphatically moving leftward in any obvious way. And for those who would expect or hope otherwise, the data can disappoint.

Does it ever. Wofford notes that, among other things

Respondents aged 18-29 are the least likely in the country to support a renewed ban on assault weapons, at 49 percent...

Pew's data suggest that those falling in the youngest age range have dropped the furthest in support for "gun control" since 2000 (when the alternative is presented as "gun rights")....

According to Gallup...in 2004, the notion that concealed guns made for safer spaces polled at 25 percent; 11 years later, it registered at 55 percent nationally. The greatest support came from those ages 18-29, at 66 percent, a full 10 points greater than the next highest scoring demographic...

At the same, millennials lead the demographic pack in calling for broader restrictions on "mentally ill" people being allowed to own and carry guns, and they have no positive feelings for the National Rifle Association (NRA). That latter point should suprise no one. Whatever else you can say about it, the NRA is an old-man's outfit that is virtually indistinguishable from the Republican Party, which pulls just 27 percent of millennials in terms of voter identification.

Experts on gun control struggle to explain millennial attitudes to Wofford:

"It does appear that there is that increase in support for concealed carry, and also some of the highest support for other forms of gun control," says Adam Winkler, an expert on the Second Amendment and gun politics at UCLA whose bestselling book Gunfight has won acclaim from many readers on various sides of the gun debate. "It kind of reflects that sort of divided identity on guns—that guns can make you safer, and thus they support concealed carry. At the same time, they recognize there's a serious gun problem in America, and … they think that more should be done to keep guns out of the hands of people who can't be trusted."

Let me suggest that the struggle has nothing to do with millennials and everything to do with the zombified categories most of us in the culture-and-politics industry are still using to describe everyday reality.

This leads to all sorts of confusion, none more obvious and tiresome than the idea that millennials love "socialism." At the start of his (excellent) article, Wofford writes, "According to surveys last year, 43 percent of 18-29-year-olds now hold a favorable view of socialism. These are the millennials. Alex P. Keaton they are not." (Note to millennials: Google Alex P. Keaton if you don't get a reference to a TV character whose sitcom went off the air the year the Berlin Wall came tumbling down.) Back in 2014, when the Occupy movement was still a memory, Reason conducted a poll of 18-29 year-old Americans which found that 42 percent preferred "socialism" as a way of "organizing society." At the same time, just 16 percent could define socialism correctly as the state owning the means of production. And when Reason followed up to move past labels and discuss substance, we found:

When asked whether they want an economy managed by the free market or by the government, 64% want the former and just 32% want the latter. Scratch a millennial "socialist" and you are likely to find a budding entrepreneur (55% say they want to start their own business someday). Although they support a government-provided social safety net, two-thirds of millennials agree that "government is usually inefficient and wasteful," and they are highly skeptical toward government with regards to privacy and nanny-state regulations about e-cigarettes, soda sizes and the like.

The Reason poll found similar rhetorical misunderstandings in other areas too. Millennials are widely dismissed as a "coddled" and "entitled" generation (ironically, many critics of millennials are baby boomers, who were attacked in exactly the same terms by "the Greatest Generation" that survived the Depression and fought World War II). Consider this:

While large numbers of millennials care about government spending and the national debt—78 percent agree that both are a major problem—such values do not define their politics. Indeed, over two-thirds of millennials who describe themselves as liberal do so because of social and cultural issues, not economic ones. It's about gay marriage and pot legalization, not farm subsidies and food stamps. This is huge and demands attention....

[Reason asked] millennials if they would rather have a government that provided more services or fewer services: Fifty-four percent chose bigger government, with just 44 percent calling for a smaller government offering less services.

But when the same question is asked in the context of paying higher taxes for more government services, the results flip. Asked if they would prefer a "larger government with more services" that would require high taxes, just 41 percent of millennials want the larger government, with 57 percent preferring a smaller government and low taxes. This preference generally extends across income and ethnic groups; it's a generational attribute.

Younger Americans, then, are speaking a different language than those of us in older generations. Everyone only adds to the confusion to the extent we don't suss out the specific meanings of words and terms that all sides take for granted. (To his credit and the reader's benefit, Politico's Wofford talks to dozens of younger Americans and others to get beyond simplistic categories.) And it's not simply on gun rights that millennials are breaking the hearts of old folks.

As former Reason Polling Director Emily Ekins and I put it in an October 2014 Reason story, "Millennials Aren't Listening To You." They have no more interest in what Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Nancy Pelosi, Mitch McConnell, Bernie Sanders, or Donald Trump thinks is a perfectly consistent world view than people coming of age in the 1980s cared about the various left-wing splits over the Spanish Civil War or internecine fights in America First movement. We can learn a lot from history, of course, but expecting younger generations to conform to situational political ideologies and partisan coalitions hammered out during the waning years of the Cold War is sadder than a presidential combover. Ekins and I found significant areas of continuity and disruption.

About six in 10 millennials say that most people can get ahead with hard work, a figure similar to that of older Americans. Also like older Americans, millennials hold individuals chiefly responsible for their own life outcomes. A majority define fairness not as splitting up society's wealth equally, but as making sure that the people who work the hardest get to keep their earnings, even if that means unequal outcomes.

They are also highly skeptical of government action. Fully two-thirds say that government is usually inefficient and wasteful. That's up from just 42 percent in 2009, at the dawning of the Age of Obama. Sixty-three percent of millennials say that regulators are in the hip pocket of special interests, and 58 percent agree that government agencies and bureaucrats generally abuse their power. Not occasionally, generally.

Such anti-government attitudes may warm libertarian hearts, but it would be a major mistake to think that millennials are the second coming of Murray Rothbard-style anarchism or even Reaganesque disdain for government solutions. While millennials clearly prefer free markets to state-managed ones, they are split on whether free markets are better at promoting economic mobility (37 percent) than are government programs (36 percent). Seven in 10 support government guarantees for housing, health care, education, and income for the truly needy. Yet almost as many—65 percent—think overall government spending should be reduced, and 58 percent favor cutting taxes.

Read more here.

So why might millennials (more precisely, younger Americans) break with progressive dogma when it comes to gun rights? Attempts to explain generational attributes are rife with overreach, but if there are characteristics that define younger Americans, they inlcude insistence on their autonomy and competence (both of which they often overestimate; such is the folly of youth). That would help account for belief in concealed carry. There is also a strong sentiment of "wokeness," of empathy toward the difficult experiences of others, and a generalized acceptance and embrace of mood-altering drugs from Adderall to SSRIs to Ecstasy, pot, and LSD. That, plus a regular parade of deranged gunmen (such as Nikolaus Cruz) that might explain support for restricting gun rights for emotionally unstable people. Millennials are nothing if not in touch with their emotions.

But the key takeaway is this: Younger Americans have grown up in a vastly different (and mostly richer, kinder, and more fair), world than older Americans. The 20th century is already ancient history to them and nothing is more dessicated than the categories of liberal and conservative or Democratic and Republican as they were hammered out in the wake of Vietnam, desegregation, Watergate, Roe v. Wade, and Gerald Ford's ineffectual Whip Inflation Now campaign. Election 2016 featured two major-party candidates who were collecting Medicare and Social Security retirement benefits, talked incessantly about 1970s' America (when they were young), and either didn't use email at all (Trump) or relied on devices less secure than a Jitterbug smart phone (Clinton). Expecting legacy parties, institutions, and ideologies to regiment younger Americans' ideas and policy preferences is a bigger dead end than progressive rock and will only perpetuate the current era of "unstable majorities" and hyper-polarized, dysfunctional government.

Read Reason's special web issue, featuring over a dozen articles, on millennials.

Watch Reason's interview with Stanford and Hoover Institution political scientist Morris P. Fiorina on how media and political activists are unrepresentative of Americans' views on the leading issues of the day:

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  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    This is exactly why you analog-age whippersnappers shouldn't be allowed to vote.

  • Wizard with a Woodchipper||

    "Millennials aren't listening to you."

    Of course, they aren't. Their pork pie hats are on too tight.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Hey, now. Bringing those back is one of the few good things about these naïfs. Reminds me of running down to the county fair when I was their age.

  • Wizard with a Woodchipper||

    what? you don't like the ironic giant sunglasses and corn cob pipe combo?

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Waste of glass, and real men use briar wood.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    But the key takeaway is this:

    No, it isn't, it never was, and it never will be, Nick.

  • silver.||

    Gillespie writes of millennials hoping to be accepted by them.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    I've never met a millennial, but I'd be willing to bet that losing the "Benicio Del Toro Cosplaying As Beloved 1970s Sitcom Character" look would be a good start.

  • Ska||

    If he's playing Larry Dallas in a Three's Company reissue, can we have the wife from Homeland be Janet? I don't care who you cast as Crissy. Maybe the redhead from True Blood and Daredevil. It's a reboot after all.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Good news and bad news. The bad news is that we were actually casting him for a Happy Days reboot as the Fonz. The good news is that we have cast Deborah Ann Woll in all other roles. The roles are not currently projected to have a speaking component. The series will air on Showtime.

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    Wood.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    It seemed obligatory.

  • DiegoF||

    Ayyyyyyyy! Why assume he was talking about Larry Dallas? It's clear from the context he was referring to everyone's favorite cool-as-fuck, take-no-shit tough guy, Lou Grant.

  • Hank Phillips||

    So there's hope These States won't end up like the Banana Republics, the Old World or the Ottoman Emirates...

  • DiegoF||

    "Dying 20th-century culture-war tribes"? Perhaps not. But you know where they do fit in?

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    NPR says young people want gun control now.

  • DiegoF||

    They probably want it more than they want NPR. Evaluate claims in their proper context.

  • Rebel Scum||

    I find the use of emotional, reactionary children to push a policy agenda disturbing.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Check your formatting, the link isn't showing up for me.

  • Maddow's Fleshlight||

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    As someone on a cell phone that was actually helpful.

  • Lawn Darts||

    I think that children should always be in charge of deciding what to do about that pesky Bill of Rights.

  • damikesc||

    Indeed. Few people are as thoughtful and able to look at all aspects of an issue as fucking high school kids.

    "In local news, Congress has banned term papers. They're 'totally unfair', say activists..."

  • loveconstitution1789||

    NPR wants gun control and will lie to say some group also wants that.

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    A media outlet, distort facts on purpose? Never!

  • Rockabilly||

    Fellow Americans,do you not see?

    These young peoples are brainwashed by Putin's bots.

    It's a conspiracy so deep and devious only Putin the puppet master could have conceived of it.

    Adam Schiff: Russian ads promote 2nd Amendment so we all kill each other

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4r9bpTULXsE

  • Mark22||

    Well, Adam Schiff will fix this and restore unity and purpose to the nation... he will send anybody who disagrees with him to reeducation camps, and if that doesn't work, to mental health treatment. If that doesn't work either, he'll start euthanizing dissenters, because obviously if you disagree with him, there is something horribly wrong with you!

  • Lachowsky||

    My generation sucks at economics. This is known. Maybe we are okay good on guns, but being in favor of taking guns from the mentally ill is pretty ignorant.

  • GILMORE™||

    ""Read Reason's special web issue, featuring over a dozen articles, on millennials.""

    Part of me believes that this issue was the watershed-moment after which everything went slowly and steadily to shit @Reason

    that smug, leering, bearded-face knows what horrors it hath wrought

  • Citizen X - #6||

    You're just pissed they made him wear that stupid striped shirt.

  • Ska||

    Nah, he wasn't hiding anything - it's all that fucking beard.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

  • GILMORE™||

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    We were going for "intimidating", not "French".

  • Mark22||

    I remember when beards were a sign of masculinity and maturity.

    These days, bearded men are like teenage bearded ladies.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I wonder if it's just because the boomers largely rejected beards as being for the old men. The old bosses. And now it's swing back. Certainly I don't see a lot of politicians or others from the Boomer generation with beards.

  • Mark22||

    I think that's the reason beards went out of style and came back into style.

    However, the effect is the same: beards on millennials are not a sign of actual masculinity anymore.

  • silver.||

    I use an analogy to "herd immunity" when discussing gun rights with my peers. When baddies don't know who might be carrying a concealed weapon, they're more hesitant to commit any crime. The argument doesn't always work, "guns are designed to kill, and vaccines are designed to save." True, but they're both just tools, and both have a protective effect on everyone regardless of participation. Seems equal outcomes are only pertinent to issues with which we agree.

    Another I've heard is to ask whether they'd be willing to put an anti-gun sticker on their car, and most people recognize that it would make them a target for crime. This can be easily extrapolated to gun-free zones which are havens for the mass shooter events that we're currently considering. These assholes want as much time and as little resistance as possible during their rampages.

    I'm apprehensive about the results of this survey. Guns rights don't seem to be at all important to the vast majority of under-35 folks I regularly engage. Most like a range day as much as anyone, but will likely never own a firearm unless they have an unfortunate "aha!" moment like so many folks do.

    Nonsense like: "If you'd rather protect your hobby than our children, you're a monster." Of course, I don't have a very comprehensive cross-section of society to examine.

  • Rebel Scum||

    "If you'd rather protect your hobby than our children, you're a monster."

    I despise this type of non-sequitur. It is mendacious and demonstrates that the person cannot be reasoned with. This, interestingly is a common problem with, say, conservatives/libertarians debating illiberals/regressives: Conservatives/libertarians think illiberals/regressives are wrong, whereas illiberals/regressives think conservatives/libertarians are evil. The discussion between the two is a non-starter because you do not negotiate with evil.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    "If you'd rather protect your hobby than our children, you're a monster."

    "So glad to hear that you've decided to stop harassing people about gun control in favor of taking a concealed carry course."

  • silver.||

    "I despise this type of non-sequitur."

    I am an extremely patient person, but as you said, arguments like this make it very clear that the debate will be unproductive. I just start shaking with rage because I can't finish a single sentence of factual information before I hear another cliched line lie that was blasted out by Bloomberg's posse.

    Re: arguing conservatives vs progressives: dismissing the other side as evil and refusing to listen to them is how you end up with true evil in power. It's really unhelpful to group Hitler and Trump together just as it's unhelpful to group Sanders and Stalin together. Just as you say, I'm often afraid to bring up contentious topics for fear of repercussions well beyond the actual debate. Civil disagreement is effectively discouraged, and one is expected to sit at the same table as others with the same opinions. Great system. It's not like the Framers spent months berating each other in Philadelphia to hash out the beginning of the constitution and then years more arguing through newspapers. They were all in perfect agreement about how to make our harmonious utopia.

  • Juice||

    I just start shaking with rage

    Don't. No matter how frustrating it may be to argue with someone, don't let it get you worked up. It's just not worth it.

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    You have your groups backwards, like everyone. Sanders is Hitler and Trump is Mao.

  • Thomas O.||

    Couldn't help but chuckle at the irony of your "Sanders is Hitler" statement.

  • damikesc||

    I despise this type of non-sequitur. It is mendacious and demonstrates that the person cannot be reasoned with.

    This can easily be turned around on them, though.

    "So, you don't want my wife to be able to defend herself against a rapist because it makes you feel icky? So, my wife should be raped to protect your feelings?"

  • Tony||

    There are fucking statistics about all this you know. When we're talking about mass death, you might want to have higher standards than "I pulled this from my ass."

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Lefties like you pull numbers from your ass for everything you want to push.

    Luckily, Americans are moving away from lefty politics. Even the Millennials are not falling for your nonsense.

    Its almost like millennials are more Libertarian than anything.

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    It's not just numbers coming out of there...

  • MarkLastname||

    "There are statistics."
    Well then, I guess we'll jyst take your word for it.

  • Mark22||

    There are fucking statistics about all this you know.

    Yes! When you look at them, you'll find that legal gun owners commit gun violence at a much lower rate than the rest of the population.

  • Bubba Jones||

    More people are killed by cops than by mass murderers.

  • Bubba Jones||

    Vaccines sometimes kill the people they are meant to protect.

    I think the analogy is excellent.

  • Rebel Scum||

    millennials love "socialism."

    They love "welfarism". They don't really know what "socialism" is.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Socialism is Bernie Sanders, and Bernie Sanders was hot shit for most of 2015-2016. Socialism is a grumpy old man going his own way and sticking it in the Establishment's eye!

  • Juice||

    It's democratic socialism! Never mind if the majority doesn't want socialism.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Those with college loans know what "debt" is.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    That debt is nothing compared to the debt old people are piling on the millennials because of the unconstitutional social security, Medicare, and medicaid.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Butt: Shut up, moron. All you do is lie.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    "Fifty-four percent chose bigger government, with just 44 percent calling for a smaller government offering less services.

    ",,,But when the same question is asked in the context of paying higher taxes for more government services, the results flip. Asked if they would prefer a "larger government with more services" that would require high taxes, just 41 percent of millennials want the larger government, with 57 percent preferring a smaller government and low taxes"

    So they want free stuff as long as someone else pays for it.

  • silver.||

    This isn't limited to millennials. A ballet referendum for my (about 45/45 R/D depending on election) locality asked whether voters supported a new $100+ million school. 80% said yes. The next question asked whether they supported a 1% tax on prepared meals at restaurants to pay for the school. 80% said no. So the school was purchased on credit.

    Great.

  • BigT||

    Those referenda were .....

    (Dons sunglasses)

    ....on point!

  • sparkstable||

    Was the construction vote not written to be contingent on the passage of the tax (and vice-versa?)? Where I live, OK, we are excellent at stupidity yet even we can manage to link our bills together logically.

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    Are those four to eight percent flips anywhere close to significant? Probably a +/- 4 points of error...

  • Juice||

    Exactly. When I was "discussing" with those two 23 year olds that were touting socialism to me, it was definitely not the Marxist, seize the means of production type. It was definitely just the tax the fuck out of rich people to pay for the medical bills of poor people type. I don't know if you can actually call that socialism or not, but so many people do, that it is what it is. But they also scoffed at "capitalism" while not really knowing what they were talking about, so I'm not sure they even had a coherent vision or principle in their head except poor people are suffering while rich people are partying in their yachts and isn't that terrible we must do something. Oh, and some people were oppressed 200 years ago, so other people that look similar to them should get some kind of special treatment or something. It was hard to make out what they wanted to actually do about that though.

  • Mark22||

    Exactly. When I was "discussing" with those two 23 year olds that were touting socialism to me, it was definitely not the Marxist, seize the means of production type. It was definitely just the tax the fuck out of rich people to pay for the medical bills of poor people type.

    That latter type of socialism indeed has a name: "national socialism" aka "fascism". It also has a long history.

  • GILMORE™||

    re: the 'dying 20th century culture-war tribes'

    i think its an odd claim, because my my own measure, they've never been stronger (since the last peak in the early 1990s)

    they may have changed names, but they're more or less the same TEAM RED/TEAM BLUE, and they still shriek the same nonsense at each other across the vast divide of otherwise-normal people trying to muddle along.

    while the topics have changed only-barely, if at all; guns (a perennial), hate-speech!/racism, abortion (less of a thing than it was in the 1990s, but still a thing), and the endless demand for "free stuff", to be paid for by others.

    the news media is also more polarized than ever and it is a reflection of the demand from the very-polarized public

  • DiegoF||

    Regardless of what the conceptual space might be--sorry, political quizzers--American politics has throughout the decades been very well describable by a left-right spectrum, change though the standards do over time.

    We've moved on a few things. Abortion is rather striking for how remarkably little it has been one of them; our distribution of opinion is essentially unchanged since 1974, which is truly stunning when you compare it to other changes.

    This is worse than the early 1990s. That was a little baby trend, a fad even, that by the late 1990s we could pretty much look back on with the same attitude as Chess King. Now absolutely everything is back, stronger and more virulent than ever. (Fuck, they're even banning plastic bags and styrofoam now; that's how thorough the throwback is.) It's like we started feeling better immediately after a few pills of antibiotics, and concluded the infection was all gone.

  • SIV||

    I blame Eddie the Eagle.

  • DiegoF||

    Eddie versus McGruff, who would win?

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    You know who else blamed the Eagle?

  • Robert||

    Don Felder?

  • SIV||

    Worth noting, the NRA is viewed very favorsbly by all adults. 55% believe the NRA has the right amount, or too little, influence on gun policy.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    If the millennials aren't paying attention to this, then who is listening to Jimmy Kimmel?

  • DiegoF||

    Chicks on trampolines, last I remember.

  • Rhywun||

    Hold that memory. The current reality is terrifying.

  • BigT||

    Still like Adam Carolla. Apparently he was the only Man on the Man show.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Nobody.

    When he used to discuss man things, some people listened.

  • Tony||

    Young people may have no love for the NRA but they have certainly been indoctrinated by the NRA.

    "It's hopeless to do anything about guns." I'm a relatively young person, and this has been the line for half my life. Anyone younger is sure to have heard nothing else, and to have rationally thought that there are simply too many guns to do anything about, and too much crazy on the pro-gun side. They've never actually witnessed a real gun regulation debate.

    Which is unfortunate because I don't see how we deal only with mental health without trampling on actually important civil liberties.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    The Ministry of Arbitrarily Declaring Which Civil Liberties Are Actually Important Based On Personal Preference hath spoken.

  • Tony||

    I see people in other countries who are just as or more free than we are getting along perfectly well without millions of military-style weapons. So let's say it's a wash. What we do have is constant mass death at the end of bullets. Nine minutes and this psycho killed 17 people. That's the freedom you think is worth protecting over the kids' freedom to, like, not be splattered against a floor.

  • guy who doesn't care||

    "I see people in other countries"

    don't care

  • Tony||

    Then why am I supposed to care about your sick fetish?

  • The 2nd Amendment||

  • Tony||

    Don't care. Just words on paper.

  • The 2nd Amendment||

    And yet, I'm still the law you have to obey.

  • Tony||

    Gun nuts who argue from naked aggression. Fantastic.

  • The 2nd Amendment||

    And yet, I'm still the law you have to obey.

  • DiegoF||

    2A, do you feel confident in the current political environment? Rick Scott has said "everything's on the table," Trump (pro- No Fly No Buy) apparently asked his guests at Mar a Lago if he should move on gun control, many Republicans are pushing "tightening" bills and bump stock bans, and they all profess to be ready to move on "mental illness" i.e. due process and just don't seem to be speaking very defiantly. And there is only one pro-gun Democrat left on all of Capitol Hill, that Mexican dude from Texas.

    There we be many more "mass shootings" before the year is up, with probably at least one as a better poster boy for gun control than this. Do you think your defense is slowly being worn down, the opposition ever more energized and the public's resistance to this particular moral panic eroded with each incident?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    The 2nd Amendment, do you think Tony and Butt will ever trying to destroy you and your cousin Amendments?

  • Ryal||

    Gun nuts who argue from naked aggression.

    How low must your IQ be to argue, or even suggest, that following the Constitution is naked aggression. Listen, it's pretty clear you had no cogent response, but next time, at least try not to shit the bed.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    You're the one with the "sick fetish", GWDC just has a "fetish".

    You can tell the difference by the fact that you're insisting on involving him in your's, while he'll let you opt out of his.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    I see people in other countries who are just as or more free than we are getting along perfectly well without millions of military-style weapons

    Guns are one of approximately 100 or so areas of libertarian concern, so even if true, irrelevant subject-changing. Also, hunting rifles and duck shotguns are "military-style weapons".

    Nine minutes and this psycho killed 17 people. That's the freedom you think is worth protecting over the kids' freedom to, like, not be splattered against a floor

    Ad Hominem. And such a well-supported one at that!

  • sparkstable||

    And the nine minutes was made possibly precisely because of some lecel of control on gjns (gun free zone). Had more good guys had access to the appropriate tools (along with appropriate training) then that 9 minutes could have been reduced greatly.

    And the great thing about that argument is not that I have to defend that it would have stopped the whole thing, but simply that there would have been a mere possibility that the damage could have been reduced by ANY amount. And it would require straight up lying to deny that.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    My point to Tony was that even if his approach of "make the guns go away" actually made all the guns go away, effective method displacement is not theoretical.

    Isn't that right, Tony?

  • Sevo||

    Tony|2.19.18 @ 4:57PM|#
    "I see people in other countries who are just as or more free"

    By definition, they are not and you are too fucking stupid to understand that.
    Leave the adults alone, asshole.

  • MarkLastname||

    And those other countries' homicide rates were lower than ours by the same gap (if not larger) before they passed their stringent gun laws and we liberalize ours. "There are statistics..."

    By your reasoning, we should have the lowest drug use in the western world, as we have some of the strictest drug laws; and yet, drug use (even drugs produced closer to Europe) is actually worse here than most other western countries.

    It isn't simply the liberality (or stringency) of our laws that determines such things.

  • Mark22||

    I see people in other countries who are just as or more free than we are getting along perfectly well without millions of military-style weapon

    I've been to most of the free countries on the planet, and none are anywhere near as free as the US.

    What we do have is constant mass death at the end of bullets.

    Gun ownership has increased massively over the past 20 years, while homicide rates have halved. So the idea that increased gun ownership causes increased "mass death" is simply not consistent with the data.

    But, then, that's true of pretty much all the policies you advocate, Tony: they are irrational, anti-science policies.

  • EscherEnigma||

    Gun ownership has increased massively over the past 20 years


    Where you get that number? Everything I can find shows that while the number of guns has increased, the number of gun owners has stayed steady or dropped.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Everything I can find shows that while the number of guns has increased

    And obviously that's what he was referring to.

    Given that legal gun owners form a minor portion of gun criminals, an increase in the pool of legal guns that criminals can draw on is likely the more relevant data point, no?

  • MikeP2||

    Millennials are generally saddled with college debt, stuck in low-paying service jobs, with little to no avenues for pursuing the 'American dream' of a family, house, and backyard bbqs.
    To them, this is history, not future.

    Many of the millennials I know and work with are quite blasé about the future and largely expect some sort of collapse of society. They can do the math....they know the outlook for their finances and their friends finances and it is not in anyway positive.

    Is it so unusual for folks with such a viewpoint to look favorable on personal weapons?

  • silver.||

    "Many of the millennials I know and work with are quite blasé about the future and largely expect some sort of collapse of society."

    Yeah. I try not to be defeatist, but I don't blame those who are. I'm certainly getting there. Eventually I'm just going to have too many other things to worry about than how to stop the power-hungry elite of this country from screwing us over any more.

    Vacillations about having children and making investments in real property aren't related to college debt for many successful young adults. The burden can be anticipated and managed. Some attended lesser schools because of scholarships or lower costs, some did 2+2, some got degrees with higher earning potential, some saved for college by working after high school, some didn't go to college at all, some joined the military to utilize the GI bill, some lived at home for a year or two after graduating college to aggressively pay debts, some got low-stress loans from well-off relatives, etc.

    It's pretty easy to see how negligence by the current generation of leaders is affecting our prospects. There's blatant disregard for the country's financial future. There's blatant disregard for the planet's environmental future. There's blatant disregard for the underprivileged. It's clear that few really care "about the children" or "about the poor" more than they care about securing and maintaining power.

    So, society is performing exactly as it always has.

  • Juice||

    Many of the millennials I know and work with are quite blasé about the future and largely expect some sort of collapse of society.

    It's the 70s all over again.

  • Bubba Jones||

    They said the same thing about Gen X.

  • Inigo Montoya||

    "...they think that more should be done to keep guns out of the hands of people who can't be trusted."

    You mean like cops? If so, then this Gen-Xer has something in common with these Millennial kids.

    While that "18 school mass shootings to date this year" figure may have been false, I'm sure there has been more than 18 incidents so far in which a police gun "was discharged" because someone "felt unsafe" due to an injured person crawling away, or a black person driving, or an old lady who's hard of hearing and rather slow to get on the floor, or someone's suicidal dad, or any number of people's pets.

    So yeah, I would agree that some types of people categorically can't be trusted with guns until they prove otherwise, but it's unfortunately about the only group the gun control types actually think SHOULD be armed.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    If we disarm them, how would they target communities of color?

  • VinniUSMC||

    So yeah, I would agree that some types of people categorically can't be trusted with guns until they prove otherwise, but it's unfortunately about the only group the gun control types actually think SHOULD be armed.

    This is the most unfortunate part about the gun control nuts, "let's ensure that only the police, that we absolutely hate and have 0 trust for, are the ones with the guns."

    It just makes no sense. The cognitive dissonance is strong with the unprincipled.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I don't think it's that the millennial, fruit sushi, whack-a-doodles are more pro-gun or conservative than advertised. I suspect it's that people inevitably start reverting to the historical mean when they hit a certain age.

    The fruit sushi whack-a-doodles are moving more suburban, like their white flight parents and grandparents did when they had kids, too. They'll mostly do and think all the same things their parents did and for the same reasons, too.

    Boomers used to wax ironic by putting Deadhead stickers on their Beamers. Most of the millennial wave is also signaling and posturing--and wishful thinking on the part of old folks in the media. They really thought things would change, but there is nothing new under the sun.

  • DiegoF||

    This is a mistake the media has made, and--as with so many other mistakes--lacks both the sophistication and the financial incentive to stop making. They treat the opinions of every cohort as fixed, as though people do not change as they get older.

  • Inigo Montoya||

    Good points. Hasn't it pretty much always been true that, for many or even most people, their attitudes and at least some of their political viewpoints change as they age and move through different stages in life?

    Some of the biggest changes happen within a few years of getting out of school, moving out of a parents' place, and having to learn to work and pay lots of bills all on one's own. It's sort of a crash-course in practical economics for most people. And when you add in things like a mortgage payment and expenses for kids, even more lefty idealism starts to wither in all but the most dense and benighted heads.

    It's been repeated in one generation after the next, so you'd think the media would have noticed it as a repeating trend by now.

  • silver.||

    "Hasn't it pretty much always been true that, for many or even most people, their attitudes and at least some of their political viewpoints change as they age and move through different stages in life?"

    That's what I learned. It's normal to be idealistic and broad-minded when you're young. Fogies always think the current crop of youth are amoral harbingers of the collapse of society. There are always new drugs and new music to be blamed.

  • silver.||

    Similarly, as I've done elsewhere in this thread, it's normal for the youth to blame every setback and failure to thrive on the policies of the corrupt old farts.

    And we'll implement a bunch of dumb-ass, self-serving policies in 20+ years, and the cycle will continue.

  • BigT||

    "If you're not a socialist before you're twenty-five, you have no heart; if you are a socialist after twenty-five, you have no head"

    -NOT Winston Churchill

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    My idealism had changed as I've aged. The idea is now personal freedoms for all, rather than saving the downtrodden from themselves.

  • Azathoth!!||

    "If you're ever a socialist, you're an idiot."

    --Azathoth

  • EscherEnigma||

    You might be right. But the referenced articles are talking about 18 to 29 year olds, not Millenials. So the Millenials where your ideas would apply are largely excluded from the discussed data set.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    If they're actually that sensible about gun control after making it through the indoctrination mills, I expect they'll warm to the NRA as they age a bit, and have time to figure out that the people vilifying it are only doing so because they hate gun ownership, and the NRA has been getting in the way of their banning guns.

    Sad to hear that they like socialism, but, again, I figure that will change as they get older, and have a chance to learn the things about socialism their high school teachers didn't tell them.

  • Lawn Darts||

    "Let me suggest that the struggle has nothing to do with millennials and everything to do with the zombified categories most of us in the culture-and-politics industry are still using to describe everyday reality.

    Yes! Yes! Almost every day, I want to bang my head on the wall as people argue over issues.... when it's clear to me that they are using names, words and labels to mean completely different things. Language is humankind's greatest technology, and it's under attack by the forces of chaos or something. Remember that cautionary tale about the Tower of Babel?

    Before beginning any debate, (including the debates Reason has recently participated in) we should define the most basic terms, as though we were embarking on a written contract. We apparently need to return to the early days of "English" contract law, which included key terms in multiple languages... so that the Angles, Normans, Franks, and Romans all understood each other. Begin each argument by defining your terms.

  • Inigo Montoya||

    You're assuming that both parties wish to argue in good faith and attempt to bring other around to their viewpoint through reasoned argument. That's often not the case, it seems.

    Take the lack of due process for students accused of sexual assault, for example. If I argue for the rights of the accused, that makes me a rape apologist, a misogynist, and a supporter of rape culture according to the other side.

    But, especially as the father to a young woman (and no sons), I can assure you that I'd be about the last person to defend any guy who was actually guilty of forcing himself on a girl. I'm just unwilling to condemn every regretted experience, every drunken mistake, or even every uninvited date request as clearly constituting "assault." When you water down terms to that extent, they lose any meaning.

  • BigT||

    Good point. Define climate change.

  • silver.||

    Whatever makes the definer the most money.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    Many Millennials learned to value gun rights from the Black Panthers.

  • silver.||

    Well, you jest, but I've spoken with a few believers in a socialist utopia who can be coaxed into acknowledging that an armed uprising would be the only option if such a society were to obtain malevolent leadership, especially those who would divert resources from humanitarian causes to militaristic ones.

    Further inquiry has produced dissonance-driven deflection to another topic.

    :\
    :(

  • silver.||

    Sorry, Black Panthers to socialist supporters is massive leap. Basically if these people can learn the importance of weapon ownership in defying an some sort of perceived or real injustice, they can understand the reason the 2nd amendment was created.

    There's still a pervasive attitude that suggesting such a thing is tinfoil-hat territory, but revolutions are happening right now all over the world, and I think they'll continue for many, many generations.

    Whether they learn to distrust the established elite from the Black Panthers, antifa rallies, or even dystopian young adult novels, they're still getting the most important concept: 99% of people who want to boss you around don't give a shit about you.

    Let's hope that another Charles Manson doesn't show up during the new round of social upheaval.

  • Harvard||

    Let the islamification continue to percolate in these utopias and let's see what they can be coaxed into.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    There is also a strong sentiment of "wokeness," of empathy toward the difficult experiences of others...

    Not the ones I've interacted with. Sure, the sentiment might be there, but in practice millennials do not have the capacity to put themselves in the shoes of others. At most you'll get a feigned sympathetic response when it allows for - wait for it...

    ...virtue signaling.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Which is why they support gun rights!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    And seemingly support ostracizing the so-called mentally ill.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    The little fucks.

  • Juice||

    Young Americans don't fit into dying 20th-century culture-war tribes.

    Socialist vs. fascist sounds pretty 20th century to me.

  • DiegoF||

    "If anything goes wrong, make a sound like a dying 20th-century culture-war tribe."

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

  • BigT||

    Self-awareness seems to be in very short supply in today's youth. They have been told they are special - everyone gets a trophy - for so long, that they believe it.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    The smart, ambitious young people have been departing our can't-keep-up rural and southern communities for generations, leaving at high school graduation, never to return, seeking opportunity and education on liberal-libertarian campuses and in modern, successful communities. It's called bright flight, and it is wrecking right-wing chances with America's young voters.

    Those young people also are watching the Republican-conservative electoral coalition be branded -- rightly -- with bigotry, backwardness, superstition, and corruption. Those young people will be voting for 50 years, in an America whose electorate becomes less rural, less religious, less white, less intolerant, and less backward each day.

    I caution liberals, libertarians, moderates, and RINOs not to become overconfident, however.

    If conservatives perfect a machine that mass-produces poorly educated, rural, economically irrelevant, superstitious, diffusely bigoted, easily frightened, selfish, southern white males, and the Republican Party figures a way to register the newly minted goobers to vote, right-wingers could be in a good position in tomorrow's America.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    One-note Arty-poo continues his cut and paste jobs.

  • Sevo||

    "on liberal-libertarian campuses"

    One of those words contradicts the other.
    Either you know it and are insulting us, or you don't know it and should be embarrassed.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Weird how they seem to be the most pro-gun, then.

    And I note it has still never occurred to you that there might just be an external reason for why so many low-income rural people don't move to the cities. Like, say, maybe because "someone" has used zoning, licensing and environmental regulatory laws to make housing, jobs and business prohibitively expensive and inaccessible to those not already "in"...

  • MarkLastname||

    This is the main drawback of the Volokh Conspiracy coming here: now we have two Michael Hihns.

  • Sevo||

    "This is the main drawback of the Volokh Conspiracy coming here: now we have two Michael Hihns."

    Naah.
    Dimbulbs like this are dealt with through free speech. He claims moral superiority; ask him (her) what that means.
    Simpletons like this fall apart as Tony does when questioned.

  • Azathoth!!||

    Arthur, can I call you Arthur? Good.

    Arthur, the reason people move to the cities is because farming is not as labor intensive as it once was. It's taking fewer and fewer people to feed the population centers--so the ones who stay are the ones who can do the job of feeding the world's billions.

    The ones who leave don't want that responsibility. Or can't do the job.

    A job, I might add, that is more important than the job of every college professor combined. Because we need to eat, for that, we need farmers. We don't need colleges or college professors to learn--we're DESIGNED to learn.

    And very soon, 'college' will be something you click a subscribe button on a youtubesque channel to get.

    You've backed the wrong pony, Artie--can I call you Artie?

    Good.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    A job, I might add, that is more important than the job of every college professor combined

    Are you saying that teachers and schools are unneeded for producing STEM grads?

    Because while there are certainly individuals that can learn better without the structure of a teacher and classes, implying that every STEM learner can do without teachers and classes is akin to saying that, because some people can carve their own wooden furniture, we don't need carpenters.

    The relative degradation of American higher education over the past few decades doesn't render it useless, any more than the relative degradation of Soviet agriculture meant that the citizens of the USSR would have been better off without food.

  • VinniUSMC||

    Poor Artie, being constantly dissappointed at every turn. Even your beloved liberal millennials will grow up one day, and they will dissappoint you. If only everyone could virtue signal as hard as Artie.

    Carry on broken record.

  • Mark22||

    seeking opportunity and education on liberal-libertarian campuses

    Campuses are not places of opportunities, they are places where you waste hundreds of thousands of dollars to learn little.

    And "liberal-libertarian" is a contradiction in terms. Our campuses are, in fact, hotbeds of US-style "liberalism" (i.e., progressivism), which is fundamentally incompatible with classical liberalism or libertarianism.

  • Robert||

    "It kind of reflects that sort of divided identity on guns—that guns can make you safer, and thus they support concealed carry. At the same time, they recognize there's a serious gun problem in America, and … they think that more should be done to keep guns out of the hands of people who can't be trusted."

    I think you'll find the same sort of sentiment, & not just among millennials, as having increased in recent yrs. re narcotics: that there should be more liberal use of them for pain control, w tighter restrictions to keep them away from those who shouldn't have them.

  • Robert||

    So Trump doesn't use e-mail. That just puts him in touch with the younger, who prefer to Twit.

  • XM||

    I suspect that, despite predictions of a new "demographic destiny" that would lift the dem party to an unbeatable status, there are lots of white kids still being born or entering adult age - the demographic that's more likely to be libertarianish, more attracted to alternative options like Bernie Sanders or Trump, and more passionately engaged in topics like gun rights or anti PC movement. The Ron Paul supporters and "alt-right" are widely white.

    Most older immigrants don't identify themselves as "Americans". They're already steeped in their own culture and the local issues that might galvanize voters in a town in NH might be an outsider issues for them. But some of these white kids naturally see themselves as Americans and might consider gun ownership as their birth right guaranteed by their forefathers.

    Having spent their formative years in a divisive, PC driven America also (probably) influenced them to be more unorthodox compared to their elders. was

  • Sugarsail||

    The easy caricatures of millennials marching towards socialism and gun bans are still very easy to make in California.

  • esteve7||

    One of my coworkers is in her early 30s, mom of 2 kids, and surprised us at a company function. She's pretty liberal when it comes to politics, but says she hates California's stance on guns. Turns out she's as pro-2nd amendment as you can get, and loves her pink pistol.

    Even my roommate who's a prog SJW isn't anti-gun. Really it seems to be all the older liberals that are.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    Do they believe that systemic racism is widespread in law enforcement?

  • Sevo||

    Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland|2.19.18 @ 7:51PM|#
    "The smart, ambitious young people have been departing our can't-keep-up rural and southern communities for generations, leaving at high school graduation, never to return, seeking opportunity and education on liberal-libertarian campuses and in modern, successful communities. It's called bright flight, and it is wrecking right-wing chances with America's young voters."

    Ignoring your assertions posing as arguments, let's see it:
    You claim to be 'libertarian', but so far, all I've seen is run-of-the-mill lefty whining, and I'll bet you were upset when that hag last in November '16. So tell us why you even imagine you're 'libertarian'.
    And then you whine about 'conservatives' and claim this and the Volokh sites are populated by them. Please define 'conservative'.
    If you don't find this here, I'll be happy to re-post it as required. Perhaps you're not a bullshit artist, but you'll forgive my doubts...

  • Longtobefree||

    Bullshit, yes.
    Artist, no.
    Full disclosure, this is an opinion, not a news story.

  • Echospinner||

    Well I sure hope they got it by now. I have confidence in the next generation because, what choice is there? Somebody needs to pay for that Medicare and retirement I am planning.

    In the big picture I think they will. We need to continue to offer the idea that smaller government, free trade, and individual liberty lead to the best chances for a happy productive life.

  • KevinP||

    Polls find the NRA fairly well aligned with public opinion:

    Gallup Oct 2016: In U.S., Support for Assault Weapons Ban at Record Low


    Quote:
    The fewest Americans in 20 years favor making it illegal to manufacture, sell or possess semi-automatic guns known as assault rifles. Thirty-six percent now want an assault weapons ban, down from 44% in 2012 and 57% when Gallup first asked the question in 1996.

    Support has dropped in all groups: Republicans, Democrats, Independents, both gun-owning and non-gun-owning households.

  • damikesc||

    The Reason poll found similar rhetorical misunderstandings in other areas too. Millennials are widely dismissed as a "coddled" and "entitled" generation (ironically, many critics of millennials are baby boomers, who were attacked in exactly the same terms by "the Greatest Generation" that survived the Depression and fought World War II).

    The Boomers absolutely were and are coddled and fucked up many institutions, higher education most notably, beyond repair. The criique of them is hardly unfair. Nor is the critique of Millenials.

  • Longtobefree||

    the NRA is an old-man's outfit that is virtually indistinguishable from the Republican Party,

    Well, the NRA has consistently been providing safety training, and proficiency training.
    The NRA has only one political issue, they defend the second amendment of the US constitution.

    What part of that describes the republican party?

  • Azathoth!!||

    Is anyone else creeped out by Nick's endless pursuit of the 'youth'?

  • Thomas O.||

    Well, as long as nobody's "#MeToo"-ing him...

  • EscherEnigma||

    Capping off Millenials at 29 (so earliest is port in 1989)? That's the "latest" I've seen it pushed. Am I supposed to be "Generation X" now? Checking Wikipedia's article on "Generation X", it looks like even the "latest" ranges for that doesn't include me, so I think this age range for Millenials is crap.

    Crap on the younger side too. Folks that are 18 today weren't born in the 90s, and don't remember the early 2000s (nevertheless 9/11). Recent high school grads aren't Millennials.

    So I don't know you'd call the age range these folks are talking about, but it's not Millenials.

  • EscherEnigma||

    Capping off Millenials at 29 (so earliest is port in 1989)? That's the "latest" I've seen it pushed. Am I supposed to be "Generation X" now? Checking Wikipedia's article on "Generation X", it looks like even the "latest" ranges for that doesn't include me, so I think this age range for Millenials is crap.

    Crap on the younger side too. Folks that are 18 today weren't born in the 90s, and don't remember the early 2000s (nevertheless 9/11). Recent high school grads aren't Millennials.

    So I don't know you'd call the age range these folks are talking about, but it's not Millenials.

  • Dookert||

    Effing PROOFREAD Nick! For crying out loud. I can't share articles with careless mistakes in them!

  • markm23||

    "The jumping-off point of the story is that millennials (variously defined as those between the ages of 18 to 29, or people under 40-years old) seem to be left-wing on such issues as marriage equality, more-open immigration, drug legalization, for instance." What is the left-wing position on drug legalization? Neither the vast majority of Democrats in office nor avowed Communist governments have ever supported drug legalization.

    On another matter of terminology, if "socialism" is the government owning the means of production, everyone has been confused since the 1950's if not earlier. For decades, Sweden was extolled as the example of _good_ socialism, but the factories were privately owned. They were heavily regulated, but less so than in so-called "right wing" Nazi Germany.

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