John Lott’s newest piece in the Orange County Register starts this way:
Despite several years of the billionaire former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and others spending hundreds of millions attacking the National Rifle Association, a new Gallup poll shows that people who don’t own guns have a favorable opinion of the NRA (by 7 percentage points). Moderates are 17 percentage points more likely to have a favorable opinion. Overall, the NRA has a significantly more favorable image than either President Obama or Hillary Clinton.
Yet, according to Adam Winkler in the Washington Post, the NRA will inevitably decline in power. The rationale is simple: Gun ownership is greatest among rural whites, a group whose voting power is diminishing.
The theory isn’t new. Tom Smith, director of the General Social Survey, told me in 1997 that the large drop in gun ownership shown by his poll would “make it easier for politicians to do the right thing on guns.” According to Smith’s survey, the percentage of homes with a gun has fallen fairly continuously since the 1970s – from approximately 50 percent to 32 percent this year.
Other surveys by Gallup and ABC News/Washington Post, however, show that gun ownership rates have been flat since the 1970s. The number is uncertain for a number of reasons, including people’s willingness to tell the truth to pollsters about whether they own guns. The “hard” data that we do know is that concealed handgun permits and gun sales have soared. Concealed handgun permits tripled from 2007-15. The National Instant Criminal Background Check System shows that the number of gun purchases doubled from 2006-14. . . . .