News & Politics

Here's How Data Suggests Gun Control Advocates Could Finally Crush the NRA

New polling finds gun control supporters may have more enthusiastic support than their opponents.

Photo Credit: Elvert Barnes PROTEST PHOTOGRAPHY

As the National Rifle Association reels from a wave of opposition sparked by the Parkland shooting, polling shows that supporters of gun control may have enough momentum to actually bring about real change.

Support for gun control is at its highest point yet measured, as has been reported. But support for gun control — and particularly, for universal background checks — has been extremely high for many years, despite the lack of substantive legal action on the issue. The conventional wisdom has always been that, while more people support gun control measures than opposed them, gun control opponents care so much more about the issue that politicians fear angering them.

All of that may be changing. 

According to a new poll from CNN, 62 percent of Democrats — who overwhelmingly want much stricter gun laws — say that gun policy is a motivating issue for them, compared to only 40 percent of Republicans. Only 41 percent of people in households that have guns said the issue is "extremely important" to them, compared to 56 percent of people in households without guns.

These are huge shifts from just a few years ago.

In 2014, before the shooting at Sandy Hool Elementary School, 31 percent of Republicans said that the issue was important to their vote, which has risen since risen 9 points. But the percent of Democrats saying the issue is important, which was 28 percent in 2014, has more than doubled to 62 percent now.

The recent bump in enthusiasm for gun control may be closely tied to the fact that the Parkland shooting happened so recently. But advocates, notably including teenagers who survived the attack, are successfully keeping the topic in the headlines.

Going into the 2018 elections, politicians should be more nervous about a backlash from gun control supporters than from gun control opponents. And Democrats should have more to fear from their own base on the issue than Republicans will.

While this polling doesn't guarantee substantial gun control legislation will be passed in the near-term, the chance that more lawmakers will push for stricter laws is rising. 

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Cody Fenwick is a reporter and editor. Follow him on Twitter @codytfenwick.