Cultural Nuances of the Gun Debate

Cultural Nuances of the Gun Debate

A recent Politico headline shouted a message that liberal Democrats were longing to hear: “Gun control support surges in polls.” Given the fact that Republicans are generally opposed to strict gun controls, that seems like it should be a boost for the Democrats in the midterm election.

Despite that, many Democratic strategists worry that the gun control issue could backfire. Part of this concern stems from the fact that many Senate races are being held this year in GOP friendly states like West Virginia, Indiana, Missouri and North Dakota. Democrats talking gun control in those states could hand victories to the other team.

But, even beyond certain states, buried in the Politico article is the fact that voters trust Republicans more than Democrats on the gun issue. Forty-one percent trust the GOP while 37 percent prefer the Dems. That may seem odd given apparent support for increased gun control, but the polling also showed that a plurality of Americans believes protecting the right of citizens to own guns is more important than limiting gun ownership.

The Democratic woes on this topic are probably the result of cultural differences more than narrow political positions. They simply don’t know how to talk to gun owners.

Most Republicans and half of all independents live in a household with a…

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