With the primaries heating up, and the rest of the electorate starting to pay attention to that and the larger election, I thought it was time to put some statistics out there that the Dem primary candidates and voters might want to consider. Nailing down the exact number of gun owners in the United States is definitely not an exact science. I don’t know many folks who, when called up by a stranger, would readily admit to being a gun owner, and in the firearm community at large, it’s generally thought that the number of gun owners is under-reported.
That said, we do have some numbers from a few years ago done by Pew Research. Overall, they report that 34% of households have guns, but where it is more relevant for the primary candidates is the part that talks about party and ideology. The poll is also from 2014, and I can tell you from our membership numbers, which have more than doubled since the 2016 election, that the numbers are likely even higher among liberals and moderates today than they were before.
First, our current population in the United States is 327 Million. So in real numbers, that puts the number of gun owning households at a minimum of 111 million. Out of that total, about 24 million are Dems, 43 million are Independents, and the rest are Republicans.
Ballpark-ish, the numbers also align with ideology, of liberal and moderate. That’s 67 million people who are at least persuadable on voting for someone other than Trump in the upcoming election. But, among Independents and Democrats, there are still some who approve of the job Trump has done, even after everything that he has done. If we remove those folks based on recent polling, that leaves us with 27 million Independents and 21 million Dems.
I know some of these folks. They can’t stand Trump. They know that Trump doesn’t actually give 2 whits about gun rights, after forcing the ATF to take a position on banning bump stocks without congressional approval which they themselves see as legally suspect at best, but overruled their previous limits and took the place of legislators. See this quote from 2013:
In a 2013 letter to Congress, ATF explained that bump stocks “are not subject to the provisions of Federal firearms statutes” and “ATF does not have the authority to restrict their lawful possession, use, or transfer.”
Oh, and the whole “Take the guns first, due process second” thing that Trump has gone on about. Obviously the guy is not a real ally.
So what does this mean for this group of citizens who are at least open to voting for a Dem in the upcoming election, when a good chunk of them are anybody but Trump thinkers?
It depends. If it’s Bloomberg, I can almost guarantee that a large chunk of them will either vote for Trump or vote third party. And no, berating them will not work, nor is it helpful. He’s awful for a variety of reasons in addition to the gun conversation, and would likely lose support from both gun owners and non-gun owning minorities who have witnessed his horrific policies in NY.
The other candidates? Look, what doesn’t get done in the first 100 days is likely to wither on the vine without large bipartisan support. Pragmatically, if the candidate has released a plan for the first 100 days that is focused on other stuff, more gun owners are going to, perhaps, jump on board. As most of the folks we’re discussing don’t just disapprove of Trump, they vehemently dislike the way he’s governing and what he’s done to this country.
And if you give them enough to be excited about, with policies that can really make a difference to folks who haven’t been “winning” for the last 40+ years of Reaganomics, the election is winnable. And if you took a hard look at the policies that all the Dems have signed off on about guns this time around, then go read about real root cause mitigation, and decided to roll out some policies along those lines instead, you’d not only win gun owners, you’d make a real difference.