With the NRA annual meeting coming just days after the Uvalde elementary school massacre, I have been reading news coverage of guns more than usual. Every story stokes in me some interest in commentary but I don’t have time to do that. But an interesting article — “The NRA isn’t what it used to be. It may not need to be” — by WaPo national correspondent Philip Bump moved me today to comment.
Bump makes the following interesting observation:
One of the most useful polls I have covered during my time at The Washington Post was an NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll released in 2015. It determined that the two most positively viewed political organizations in the United States were Planned Parenthood and the National Rifle Association.
The rub is that the positive views of these organizations are distinctly partisan. Republicans love the NRA and Democrats love Planned Parenthood. That’s why we have a state like Oklahoma where you can carry a concealed firearm in public without a permit but the Republican trifecta government just completely banned abortion.
We see this divide in attitudes toward restrictive gun legislation. Bump highlights the case of requiring police permits to buy a gun. From 1972 to 2022, overall support for such a policy dropped slightly, but most of this drop was due to declining Republican support.
Thinking about where guns and abortion meet is instructive because restrictive vs. liberalized attitudes toward each intersect in interesting ways.
The table below is a bit hard to read because the gun law question is restrictive (yes = law requiring a police permit to buy a gun) and the abortion law question is permissive (yes = law allows a woman to have an abortion). So, in order of most to least commonly held, the Democratic position is “gun law, yes; abortion law, yes” (around 40%). The Authoritarian position is “gun law, yes; abortion law, no” (around 25%). The Republican position is “gun law, no; abortion law, no” (just over 20%). And the Libertarian position is “gun law, no; abortion law, yes” (just over 10%).
These are all minority positions, but it’s interesting to see the precipitous decline of the Authoritarian position.
Where do you fit?