The Corner

Social Science, LA Times–style

A piece by editorial cartoonist and pundit David Horsey tries to reconcile the decline in gun ownership as measured by the General Social Survey with the fact that guns are selling well:


Who is buying all those assault rifles and handguns? Apparently, there are no statistics that can give us a definite answer, but I have a pretty good guess.

Look at that Republican number. Gun owners make up half of the GOP. I would be surprised if there is not a correlation between that half and the half of Republicans who, in other polls, expressed the belief that Saddam Hussein was responsible for the 9/11 attacks and that weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq. I would bet they are also many of the same folks who believe Barack Obama is a Muslim or a terrorist sympathizer or a socialist or Kenya-born or all of the above. They are likely the ones who think that liberal scientists have concocted the global-warming hoax and that the Justice Department and the United Nations are plotting to disarm Americans.

That settles it, then.

Also, while I’m a fan of the General Social Survey — it’s huge, and you can make your own crosstabs online — it’s worth noting that Gallup’s results are different.

He continues:

If the pollsters are correct, there are a whole lot of people in this country who live in an alternate reality woven from the exaggerations and outright lies of Internet fabulists, talk radio screamers and NRA propagandists. These people tend to be old, male and Republican — the same folks who have not given up on guns.

. . .

There are plenty of reasons to worry about some future act of violence committed by a gaggle of well-armed sociopaths. The number of threats against the president is astonishing. Militia-type groups are proliferating. The rhetoric spewed by numerous loose cannons on the right is more and more extreme. Still, it is doubtful that all the guns piling up in private homes will ever be used for anything more violent than blasting a Forest Service sign on a back country road.

All those guns will just sit there unused until their owners die off and their heirs, one by one, join the majority of Americans who have noticed that, apart from pockets of serious danger in a few big cities, this fine country has grown more peaceful in recent years.

I’m kind of confused: Am I supposed to be trembling in fear of the Old White Male Revolutionary Attack Force (in which case I think I need more guns), or are these folks just exercising their rights and not hurting anyone?

Also, the Secret Service disputed the much-repeated claim that President Obama has been threatened more than previous presidents were.


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