Gun owners vote, voting, politics
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A recent study from the University of Kansas shows that gun owners are more politically active than most constituents. In fact, the study states that gun owners vote, donate to candidates and contact elected officials much more than non gun owners. Quite likely, this is why gun control legislation often stalls at both the state and federal levels.

“Part of the reason majority opinions on gun control legislation aren’t turning into policy is that gun owners are a very strong political group, who hold a lot of weight and hold a lot of influence despite being a minority in American politics,” said Abbie Vegter, political science graduate student, in a release about the study.

Vegter, along with KU political science professors Don Haider-Markel and Mark Joslyn, presented “Motivated Voices: Gun Ownership and the Propensity for Political Participation” at the American Political Science Association’s annual meeting in Boston.

The study looked at political behavior between the two groups in presidential elections. Specifically, behavior between the 1972 to 2012. They found that gun owners have become more active in politics during that time frame.

“Our major conclusion establishes gun owners as a distinct social group, and we see how that social group influences their likelihood of participating in politics,” Vegter said.

Another point is that the study found only one in five gun owners belong to the National Rifle Association. This shows a lack of influence from the largest gun group in the country. While no one knows for sure why, Vegter suspects its about why people own guns, and how it affects their identity.

“Owning a gun for hunting doesn’t necessarily mean being a hunter is a core part of your identity,”Vegter said. “But owning a gun because you think it’s an essential right guaranteed in the Constitution is more a part of your political identity. It’s something more attached from the get-go to politics.”

Why Gun Owners Vote

There are many reasons why gun owners vote and stay up-to-date on gun legislation. Additionally, there are varying levels to the strengths of people’s beliefs. Some believe that the Second Amendment is absolute, protecting all other rights. Other gun owners believe there can be some limitations. Regardless, gun owners vote for candidates who share their beliefs. And they pay attention to what officials are actually doing, rather than just what they say.

While there have been many factors that increased gun ownership, for many it began with the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban. It didn’t take long for people to realize that it had little affect on gun violence. In fact, nothing changed again when the bill went out of effect after 10 years, despite some anti-gunners claiming “blood will run in the street.”

Then, in 2008, President Obama was elected, and people became scared that guns might be banned. So, folks who had never owned a gun ran out and purchased one, just in case. In fact, Obama was credited as the gun industry’s best salesman. Every time he called for more gun laws, gun sales spiked.

In recent years, state and local communities have moved to pass gun control legislation because of a lack of effort at the federal level. Of course, the NRA and other gun groups have moved to this level as well. In fact, multiple lawsuits have been filed to prevent areas from implementing stringent gun laws.

While the two sides are unlikely to agree on much, the debate rages on. And despite being a small section of the voting block, gun owners are still quite powerful because they vote.

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