If you’re a pro-gun person in possession of all your faculties, you realize that the political landscape in this nation as it relates to gun control is not a black and white issue. There are quite a few different categories of political affiliation on the scale; some of which are harder for people like us, people deeply invested in the cause of gun rights, to see. Here’s a look at the categories, starting with the most ardent supporters of the 2nd Amendment and going all the way to the opposite end.
- Gun owners who are politically active and vote on gun rights issues as their primary issue
- Gun owners that use gun rights as one of many important issues, but not necessarily their primary issue
- Gun owners that are not invested in the gun rights issue
- Non gun owners that are friendly to the gun rights issue due to their political beliefs
- Non gun owners who are neutral on the gun rights issue but think of “guns” in a generally positive light
- Non gun owners who are neutral on the gun rights issue but think of guns in a generally negative light
- Non gun owners who are somewhat opposed to the gun issue, and think “something should be done” about all the gun violence.
- Anti-gun advocates who are casually involved in the issue
- Anti-gun advocates who are involved in the issue because it lines up with their general platform
- Serious anti-gun advocates who vote/work primarily on the gun issue
- Gun owners who actively support anti-gun measures (quislings)
From a political reality issue, categories 3-7 make up the bulk of the American voting populace. There are about ~200 million Americans that are eligible to vote out of a population of ~300 million. Of those 200 million, only about 150 million or so are actually registered to vote. (source) There are approximately 80 million gun owners in the USA, which is ballpark 26% of the population. While it’s probably a safe bet to assume that gun owners enjoy higher levels of voter registration and turn out than non-gun owners, for the sake of this post we’ll make two assumptions: 1) all of those 80 million gun owners fall into the category of “legally eligible to vote”, and 2) that voter registration for gun owners is actually the same as the rest of the population. So using ballpark numbers, it’s likely that 75% of those 80 MM gun owners are registered to vote, giving us about 60 million registered gun owners.
NRA’s membership is 5 million, and we can use that as sort of a safe number for people who are actively engaged in the 2nd Amendment issue. Yes, I’m aware that there are NRA members who aren’t engaged and non-NRA members that are engaged, but quantifying that number would be nearly impossible. So for the sake of generosity, let’s assume that categories 1 and 2 when added together make up 7 million registered voters that will actually vote. We can also assume that the hard anti-gunners occupy a much smaller footprint than us, so I’ll spot them 3 million people just to make the math easy. That’s probably a gross overestimation, for what it’s worth. But what that does give us is 10 million people who are invested hard into the issue, out of a voting population of 150 million.
Those other 140 million votes are the ones we should be worried about, not the 3 million anti-gun voters. The reason those votes are important is because they represent sufficient weight to absolutely crush the gun rights issue if they ever wanted to. You see, to an outsider they don’t see the different schisms in our community – to Suzy Soccermom who gets her Starbucks while taking her kids to school, there is no difference between a guy who owns a couple of shotguns for hunting, the accountant she knows who shoots USPSA on the weekends, and the guy who Open Carries a rifle into Starbucks. We’re all just “gun owners” to them, so when a member of our community publicly acts bad, that broad brush is painted across the rest of us. That’s not good for gun rights, and it’s not good for you or for me. Regardless of how you feel about the NRA (too extreme, not extreme enough, etc) regardless of how you feel about Open Carry, tactical timmies, or any of the other issues that face us internally as a community; we must understand that to most of the people who vote none of that stuff even exists.
We had a major loss with Starbucks, and it was precisely because people who don’t normally care about the gun rights issue were forced to care by our actions. It should serve as a lesson and a reminder that while we’re winning on the national and state level (except for California) those wins and that progress are done because we don’t go around scaring the average, uninterested American.