As a dedicated GVP advocate, it’s hardly a challenge to take on an intellectual middleweight like John Lott or respond to the dopey antics of Colion Noir or Dana Loesch. But when someone like Grover Norquist decides to get into the gun debate, responding gets you in the deep water, because Norquist is nobody’s fool and he’s respected by both sides among the groups whose views really count.
Norquist’s venture into the gun issue can be found in an open forum blog whose contributions are surprisingly eclectic and politically diverse. And if Grover is writing about guns at the behest of the NRA, on whose Board of Directors he sits, then he’s chosen a forum that would be hard-pressed to produce another NRA member besides him. Actually, medium.com now has at least two members because I just joined.
The point of Norquist’s column is to argue that Hillary is probably making a big mistake by coming out against guns. And the reason she is going down the wrong road is because political ‘swing’ states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin have shown significant increases in the recent issuance of concealed-carry permits, in particular CCW issued to women. Norquist states that more than 1.5 million concealed-carry permits have gone out over the last twelve months, the “majority” to female applicants. To quote Grover: “The demographics of the gun issue have shifted significantly under Hillary’s feet in the past 20 years.”
They have? Well I guess it’s probably true if you want to believe the marketing bromides of the gun industry. But there is not a single, reliable source that can be used to confirm such claims, and pardon me if I don’t accept the unsubstantiated claims made by the NSSF or the NRA. If anything, women always poll more strongly than men when asked if they favor gun control over gun rights, and minority groups remain, for the most part, overwhelmingly resistant to guns.
Hillary’s plunge into the middle of the gun debate, pace Grover Norquist, is a very smart move. For one thing, it covers a very important flank vis-à-vis Bernie, whose voting record on gun issues, to be polite, is somewhat mixed. It also helps increase her stature with millennials, who appear to be anti-gun. Ditto with new immigrants and particularly ditto with minorities whose voting numbers for Obama better be duplicated by whichever Democrat sits atop the ticket later this year. Republicans face a real battle garnering a majority of any of those groups, and while Grover might want to believe that, as he puts it, “voters today carry their guns in their purses, not their pickup trucks,” he better hope that most of those purses are being carried by older, white men, because that’s still the gun-owning demographic bar none.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a political analyst and I certainly wouldn’t for one minute pretend that I possess one iota of Grover’s political experience or smarts. But I have taught the safety course that my state requires for CCW to more than 5,000 men and women over the last ten years, and when I first started teaching the course, almost all the students were men. Now I would say, on average, that women count for one out of three bodies that fill the seats. So there has been a change in the gender composition of the folks who apply for CCW in my state. But the change in numbers doesn’t explain the story at all.
Overwhelmingly, the women who apply for CCW are doing it because a husband or boyfriend brings them along. The real change that has occurred is a change in how couples now share activities rather than go their separate ways. And not only do they share activities but increasingly women make the decisions for how household money will be spent. Which means that the guy who wants to buy a gun asks her for the dough. But he’s still buying the gun.