Pew Research Center Opinion Poll Regarding Demographics of Pro and Anti-Gun Control Is Detailed Enough to Be Illuminating
© 2011 Peter Free
03 March 2011
Pew Research Center Publications, Views of Gun Control — A Detailed Demographic Breakdown, Pew Research Center for the People & the Press (13 January 2011)
Urbanization and poverty seem to work against approval for a perpetually-armed civilian condition
In reading the Pew Center’s gun control demographics breakdown, one can hypothesize that people who have experience with direct and indirect gun victimization are less inclined to see more firearms and gun-wielding as solutions to violence.
Less obvious from the Pew Center results is the probably justified inference that minority groups, steadily increasing in proportion among the population, may eventually force a more accurate view of what is necessary to reduce the firearms violence that characterizes this country.
Conflicting impulses — libertarian freedom versus social common sense
As a predominantly rural-minded, gun owning, Rocky Mountain person, I have mixed feelings about firearms. My rural self favors the right to firearms possession.
However, my ex-cop and social-observer selves recognize that most people can’t be trusted with firearms, especially in emotional situations.
Most of us tend to think that we are among the trustable group. Decades of facts indicate otherwise.
When I think back to how carefully we selected police officer candidates, and how thoroughly and continuously we trained ourselves in regard to applying the principles of the use of deadly force, I am not optimistic about the average person’s ability to react in a controlled and effective way in the face of unexpected threats or imminent deadly violence.
The Second Amendment is one area where libertarian freedom conflicts with the demonstrated weaknesses of human nature.
Gun freedoms come at the cost of a perennial drain of ruined lives.
Ethical gun advocacy requires recognition of fact, rather than distortions based on wishful thinking
Moral integrity requires that we gun-advocates acknowledge the obvious price the larger public pays for our often too rosy connection to firearms.
Those of us who support gun ownership, and especially those who approve of concealed-carry laws, need to be more cognizant of the arguable misery that the rest of the nation pays for our backward-looking allegiance to a historically less-crowded landscape.
How many innocents are we willing to see killed or maimed as the price of an overly active Second Amendment?
Instead of arguing that guns save lives (which the evidence clearly says is not true), we should have the moral straightforwardness to admit that we value gun-toting/government-offsetting freedoms more than we value the lives of, for example, the approximately 13,000 gunshot homicide victims who die each year.
That is a defensible political, social, and moral position. It parallels thinking that our right to drive automobiles is worth the 43,000 deaths attributable to motor vehicle accidents each year.
On the other hand, the proposition that losing 13,000 people to firearms-related homicides each year is a supportable price for gun freedom overlooks the unquantifiable cost that gun-related intimidation extracts from our ability to pursue peaceful lives.
It probably is the intimidation/fear factor that is most responsible for the appeal of gun-control advocacy among many of the demographic subsets that the Pew Center poll uncovered. That is why the Views of Gun Control poll is interesting.