The number of registered Democrats who own guns jumped dramatically compared to 2019, creating a significant and unexpected shift among liberals who are traditionally opposing firearms. The reasons for this change vary, though the most significant ones include an increase in criminal activities, political tensions, divisiveness, and a disturbing rise in hate crimes.
A jump of gun-owning Democrats
A survey conducted by NBC News shows that 41 percent of Democrats live in a home with a firearm. In 2019, NBC News and the Wall Street Journal ran a survey that claimed that 33 percent of Democrats live in houses with guns. This number was also reported in 2004.
Republicans are also more armed than before
The same polling conducted showed that 66 percent of registered Republican voters have firearms, a smaller jump from 64 percent reported in 2019. In 2004, the number of gun owners among GOP voters was 57 percent. The survey concluded that 52 percent of registered voters live in households with guns, up from 46 percent reported in 2019.
Rise of crime rates in major cities
Speaking to Newsweek, Professor Kleck, who teaches criminology and criminal justice at Florida State University, explained that one reason for the increase of Democrats with guns may be a “response to recent increases in crime rates in big cities, where Democrats claim a larger share of the population.” In New York City, for example, there was a 97 percent rise in shootings in 2020 compared to 2019. This trend started at the beginning of the pandemic and is not going anywhere yet.
Political tensions and divisiveness
Professor Deana Rohlinger, who teaches sociology at Florida State University, also spoke about the issue with Newsweek, but she believes that the growing number of Democrats with guns is not directly related to shootings but to anxieties caused by political and social tensions. She stated, “For some, a gun purchase may be the result of their read on how increased political tensions and divisiveness in the U.S. might play out. For others, it may be the result of individuals’ assessments of their safety in what they regard as a dangerous world. For example, LGBTQ+ individuals as well as religious and racial minorities might decide to purchase a gun for personal defense and so that they can feel safe.”
NRA blames the Biden administration
Billy McLaughlin, spokesperson for the National Rifle Association, was not shocked by the survey results. He said, “Law-abiding Americans, having witnessed everything from politicians’ attempts to close gun stores during the pandemic to the Biden Crime Wave decimating our communities, see law enforcement being undermined and progressive district attorneys not prosecuting criminals, effectively putting them back on the streets.”
Still, Americans need a gun reform
Pew Center’s research found that “58% say gun laws should be stricter, while 26% say laws are about right and 15% say they should be less strict.” In 2019, 60% wanted stricter laws, while in 2021, that number was lower, with only 53%. The increase in guns also brought growth in shooting-related deaths. Based on a Pew Research Center analysis in 2021, more Americans died of gun-related injuries in 2021 than in any other year on record. The numbers for 2023 have yet to be released.