American Culture

Dear Dana Loesch: can you and your NRA friends math?

How many American progressives own guns, and wouldn’t it suck to find out you guessed wrong the hard way?

Did you see this one yet?

I would offer some insightful analysis, but what am I going to say that isn’t obvious to anyone with an IQ above 60?

It did set me to thinking, though. I have noted before that I am a gun-owning progressive. And I’m not the only one. By a long shot. I mean, there are plenty just in my personal circle. Liberals who own guns. Who own several guns. Big guns. Liberals who take their guns to the range every week and, you know, practice. Liberals who are conceal carry certified.

The reason I note this is that we periodically hear agitations like the one above, dire, profoundly undemocratic talk by gun-owning conservatives to by god take up arms against all us oppressing liberals. You know, the ones who support the minorities in both houses, who voted for the loser in the presidential race, the ones whose interests are represented by four of nine Supreme Court justices. We’re a massive threat.

And the working assumption in all these agitations is that conservatives have all the guns. Further assumptions revolve around the idea that compassion is weakness, that a desire for social justice makes one … ummm … something a president might grab?

These are interesting assumptions. The numbers, though, don’t necessarily support the bravado. Let’s toss out some data and we’ll start with the NRA.

  • There are estimated to be as many as 300 million guns in the US – almost as many as there are people.
  • Estimates of how many Americans own guns vary widely, with some pegging the number in the mid-80 million range.
  • The NRA claims to have 4.5-5 million members. There is reason to be skeptical of those numbers. But for the sake of argument, say it’s 5 million. That’s about 1.5% of the population.
  • There are perhaps 80 million gun owners who aren’t in the NRA.
  • So at most the NRA speaks for maybe 6% of gun owners.
  • Okay, but gun owners and NRA members aren’t the same thing, once you get past the NRA’s conceit that it represents all gun owners. (Which is silly – it represents all arms manufacturers, maybe, but that’s it.)
  • However, research indicates that the NRA absolutely does not speak to the beliefs of non-member gun owners: “…survey data indicates that non-NRA gun owners hold positions on key gun rights issues that are closer to non-gun owners than they are to NRA members. And even within the universe of NRA members, considerable numbers of gun owners take policy positions that the organization opposes.” [emphasis added]

CATEGORY: GunsWhat am I working up to? Well, those getting all amped up about going out and shooting godless liberals should reflect on the math. It is absolutely true that conservatives are more likely to own guns than progressives. But that doesn’t mean that millions of liberals aren’t gun owners.

I’d also throw this one out: 3% of Americans own half the country’s guns. Wow. Impressive. I mean, if it came to a fight the conservative rabble rouser crowd would have the progresso-pussies seriously outgunned. But that raises two questions. First, how many guns can you shoot at once? And second, if you have a higher ratio of guns:people, doesn’t than mean that the proportion of liberals with guns is higher than the data might otherwise suggest?


This is obviously more about asking questions than providing answers. The thought I’ll leave you with is this. Gun advocates are fond of saying things like “an armed society is a polite society.” Knowing some of these folks first-hand, I can tell you that their level of politeness varies inversely with the perceived strength of the hand they hold. You got a gun and they don’t? Sweet as the ladies auxiliary down at the Good Samaritan Baptist bake sale. They have a gun and you don’t? Their manners are apt to be marginally worse.

So by all means. Since we’re irrevocably an armed society, let’s do be a polite society. With that many guns out there, only a moron would assume he has the upper hand based simply on what he suspects about the other guy’s political affiliation.