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Have Gun, Will Vote

New gun-sale data may not bode well for federal or state-level Democratic political candidates.
The first report says U.S. gun sales are up—a lot. According to the FBI, weekly background checks hit all-time highs in 2020 and especially 2021.
Moreover, the New York Times reports that a new study found that about a fifth of those who bought guns last year were first-time gun owners. In addition, about half were women. And 20 percent of those first-time gun owners were Black and another 20 percent Hispanic.
Guns and Second Amendment rights are one of those public policy areas—like pro-life and pro-choice positions—that tend to create “single-issue voters.” The stronger one feels about guns, the more likely that person will vote Republican, regardless of other issues.
Seeing the growing number of first-time gun owners and, more importantly, the growing number of minorities—who tend to vote Democratic—becoming gun owners should raise red flags for the Democratic Party.
What’s driving the increase in sales, especially among women and minority populations?
Part of it is a fear that a Democratically controlled Congress and White House could impose significant restrictions on gun ownership. That fear is long-standing and well-founded, since nearly every major Democratic politician campaigns on Second Amendment restrictions.
As Beto O’Rourke responded to a moderator’s question during the Democratic presidential debates, “Hell, yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47.”
Very few people think the real goal is to stop with those specific weapons.
But another factor has to be the result of many Democrats’ efforts to defund the police. Crime is up in several major cities, especially those run by defund advocates.
As Manhattan Institute fellow Heather MacDonald wrote recently in the Wall Street Journal, “Drive-by shootings and homicides jumped nationwide during and after the Floyd riots. Homicides rose 50% in Chicago in 2020, 46% in New York City and 38% in Los Angeles. The U.S. saw the largest annual percentage increase in homicides in recorded history in 2020. That increase has continued in 2021.”
And, of course, “Minneapolis homicides between Jan. 1 and last week were up 108% compared with the same period in 2020; shootings were up 153%, and carjackings 222%.”
This crime spree disproportionately affects minority communities. And more and more of those residents are apparently taking it upon themselves to be ready if the crime wave reaches them. Does that mean that more of them will be voting Republican in the future?
Interestingly, that’s exactly what happened in the 2020 election. Both Blacks and Hispanics voted in larger numbers for Republicans.
We don’t know all the reasons for that small but significant change in minority voting patterns. But Democrats have reason to worry that their anti-gun and defund-the-police policies are contributing to the shift.