Over the last couple decades we have had far too many mass shooting events in America; Columbine High School, VA Tech, Fort Hood Army Base (Nidal Hassan), Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in AZ, Aurora CO movie theater, Sikh temple, Sandy Hook Newtown, Washington Navy Yard, Fort Hood AGAIN, Emanuel AME Church, Chattanooga Recruiters, Lafayette LA movie theater and these are just some of the more prominently covered events. With the exception of the Gabby Giffords shooting in Arizona, all of the others had one thing in common, “Gun Free Zones,” yes even the “armed forces” at Fort Hood were disarmed by law.
Why the horrible trip down memory lane? To illustrate a point behind a significant shift in the American psyche. Through all of the mass shooting events in recent history, the narrative that always follows is that there are too many guns in America and that they are too easily accessible. Yet the proliferation and accessibility of firearms in America has not produced “wild west” shoot-outs in the streets and the hundreds of victims of the shootings listed above did not have firearms available to them with which they could have possibly defended themselves. That glaring fact, the deadly nature of “gun free zones,” is beginning to hit home with Americans.
After being told for decades that “guns are the problem,” more and more Americans are beginning to see guns as the solution instead. Pro-gun legislation from concealed carry to constitutional carry has swept all 50 states, Supreme Court rulings have supported American’s 2nd Amendment right to “keep and bear arms” and federal efforts to enact more stringent gun controls have been repeatedly blocked in Congress. For the first time in over 20 years of polling the subject, Pew Research reported in 2014 that more Americans favor gun rights over gun control.
Part of what is driving the shift in public opinion is the repeated failures of current gun controls like background checks. Despite the massive database, medical and judicial updating, etc. many of these mass shooters either passed the background checks or slip through the cracks in the system. The obvious failure of “gun free zones” is compounded by such gun control failures. The government can’t seem to keep dangerous people from getting guns, but they can effectively disarm large numbers of law-abiding victims for such gunmen to prey upon. With faith in government at a dismal low point, more and more Americans are choosing to protect themselves rather than rely on the government for protection.
Polls and estimates on gun ownership are all over the place, from gun ownership in decline to levels remaining flat to dramatic increases. What is not in dispute is the fact that gun sales are skyrocketing, with women being the fastest growing demographic of gun owners. Youth shooting sports are gaining in popularity and millennials are increasingly drawn to the sport as well. America is reconnecting with her gun culture heritage, both for protection and for sport, while divesting herself from the “government protection” dependence that has been propagated for the last few decades.
Some of the attraction to firearms has been driven by a perception of higher crime and the 24/7 news cycle trumpeting the latest tragedy of gun control failure wall to wall. However, with gun enthusiasm and ownership on the rise, crime across the board is in fact in decline and has been declining steadily for the last 20 years. Do more guns equal less crime? There are many factors that effect crime rates, however the increase in gun ownership has not shown any effect as far as increasing crime, it continues to decline at a steady pace. Whether that is due to increased gun ownership has not been definitively established, but the fact remains gun sales and ownership are up and crime is down. You do the math.