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Why the gun issue baffles the left

Why the gun issue baffles the left

How is it possible that specific gun restrictions seem overwhelmingly popular but do not get enacted into law by the people’s elected representatives?  News outlets constantly note that gun restrictions are favored by 60 to 80 percent of the public.  That includes red flag laws, banning large magazines, waiting periods, background checks, and age limitations.

Conversely, the anti-gun media notes that passing such laws is not detrimental to the political careers of legislators who vote for them.  They specifically note that then-Governor Rick Scott signed several of the aforementioned restrictions into law that were passed by the Florida Republican legislature – and he went on to be elected to the United States Senate.

In a spirit of simplistic partisanship, those wondering why such popular legislation does not get enacted place the blame on the money and influence of the National Rifle Association.  They claim that the mostly Republican legislators like the money and fear getting a primary opponent if they do not go along with the NRA.

There is a logical misfire in that thinking.  If voting for gun restrictions is not harmful to political careers – as they claim – the threat of opposition over that issue is not effective.  And the money is not a deal maker.  Most legislators would do very well without NRA dollars.  But there are more fundamental flaws in the arguments of the gun control advocates.

It is true that specific gun restrictions are popular with the voters.  It is also true that legislators face very little danger of getting ousted if they vote for gun restrictions.  But there is the other side of that coin.

It also does not threaten the career of legislators who vote AGAINST gun restrictions.  While the left-leaning media is quick to point to the cases in which legislators who voted for restrictions got re-elected, they fail to note that virtually every legislator voting against restrictions also gets re-elected.

There is a simple reason for that.  Gun restrictions are not an issue upon which most voters cast their votes.  It is not a decisive issue except for a very few one-issue voters—and they do not impact significantly in the final vote count.  As I have noted many times in past commentaries, that issue does not drive votes in any meaningful way.  It has little impact on outcomes.  Same with abortion.

So, two things are possible – and in play.  I will use myself as an example.  I tend to favor banning bump stocks, and high-capacity magazines, while supporting red flag laws, and background checks.  I am one of those 70 percent of the voters.  BUT I never consider gun restrictions when I vote.  In my mix of issues that direct my vote, gun restrictions are not in the mix.  Whether a candidate favors them or not, is irrelevant to my vote.

I am a pro-lifer, but I do not determine my vote by the candidates’ stand on abortion. If a candidate meets my philosophy on a wide range of issues – but not on abortion or guns – he or she may still get my vote.  

I tend to vote conservative on a broad range of overarching issues – such as personal freedom, constitutional rights, low taxes, and limited government.  I think I am typical of the conservative voter.

The fact that so many on the telly seem mystified about how such popular issues can be ignored has to do with how they fit in with a wide range of other issues.  They are mystified either because they do not understand the dynamics of voting – or they are just peddling partisan propaganda.

Whatever Congress does about gun restrictions, that issue will not be the issue determining the outcomes of the elections … period.

So, there ‘tis,

About The Author

Larry Horist

So,there‘tis… The opinions, perspectives and analyses of Larry Horist Larry Horist is a businessman, conservative writer and political strategist with an extensive background in economics and public policy. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman. He has served as a consultant to the Nixon White House and travelled the country as a spokesman for President Reagan’s economic reforms. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress. Horist has lectured and taught courses at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, DePaul universities, Hope College and his alma mater, Knox College. He has been a guest on hundreds of public affairs talk shows, and hosted his own program, “Chicago In Sight,” on WIND radio. Horist was a one-time candidate for mayor of Chicago and served as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, where he led a successful two-year campaign to save the historic Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He is praised by readers for his style, substance and sense of humor. According to one reader, Horist is the “new Charles Krauthammer.” He is actively semi-retired in Boca Raton, Florida where he devotes his time to writing. So, there ‘tis is Horist’s signature sign off.


  1. Hank

    The truth is that most people don’t want new gun laws except possible types of red flag laws. If gun control is popular with most people the guns wouldn’t be sold by overwhelming numbers. People realize that the police are hand cuffed, no pun, in many places and more people are not in favor of government rule on their survival

  2. ray

    How can restricting legal responsible gun ownership reduce the criminal use of firearms? “From my cold dead hands”!!!!!!!!!

  3. Rick

    Law abiding gun owners are not doing any of these shootings and never will. The problem is mental illness and drug usage and the break down of the family, which over the years has happened because of the liberal pushing of immoral behaviors and their trying to make those immoral behaviors seem like normal behavior. The other thing is, that if you give a liberal an inch on the gun issue, they will keep working to take more inches until they accomplish their whole goal of making us all helpless. Liberals cannot see that they are building their own prison with their goofy ideas. The black market will always be there, so the bad guys will always have their guns because (who would have guessed) bad guys are not law abiding.

    • Duke

      Stand together and stay armed. A very small percentage of gun owners ever shoot people. I refuse to be held accountable for the actions of a minority of people’s actions

      • frank stetson

        “A very small percentage of gun owners ever shoot people.” Per capita, at an aggregate number, the US owns 130 guns per 100 civilians. It takes the next three countries combined to catch us, and you don’t want to live there. The Canadians have around 30 per, but they are nicer. The Mexicans have 13 per, but they have cartels…. About 20-30 per is the range in the civilized world which, gun-wise, the US is not part of. Countries like Yemen and Serbia, that’s more our style; we only double their ownership. We need double those shitholes to survive here. But “a very small percentage of gun owners shoot people,” yet we shoot a hell of a lot more people than places with less guns. A “small percentage” will happen with a denominator that’s out of this world… in the highest denominator in the world, against all countries, maybe even combined……

        Play that numbers game and one can say you gunner better damn well stand together because most gun owners, % -wise are male, they are white, they have nor finished college, they vote Republican, and they live in the South, the rural South. About two thirds of these stupid, Trumplicant white cracker gunnies in bumfuck no-one-else-lives-here land claim they own the gun for protection, probably protection from people just like them. Crikey, only 30% of Americans own guns, yet we own the vast majority of the world’s guns. We have more guns than we have people.

        No, this is not the real story of gun ownership in America. But it is the factual numbers game of guns in American just like saying “A very small percentage of gun owners ever shoot people” may be factual, but it is not the real story of American guns OR Americans shooting other Americans with those same guns.

        • James

          Frank only a stupid son of a bitch would express your type of bullshit. I don’t give a fuck about other countries. And you think that “Trumplicants” are more likely to shoot people? And like it or not, we’re keeping our guns. So fuck you and your kind you commie dickhead. You want our guns ? Come and take them asshole.

          • frank stetson

            Thanks for your comments James. The names were especially uncreative, but your passion is only misplaced. You seemed to misread, therefore not comprehend, that the post was about the Demographics of guns, not who shoots who.

            I did not say I thought Trumplicants shot more people, the far-right is responsible for more extremist violence in America. That was covered somewhere else and is common knowledge. I do not want to take anyone’s guns away, yours included.

            Joe, the numbers are as correct as PEW Research is correct. Think you have sourced PEW a bit, they are seen as non-biased and highly factual by the bias/fact checkers out there. These numbers are not wrong, they are not biased. In your contradiction of these facts, calling the facts wrong and biased, as usual you have no factual support, just hot air.

            Here is the report, don’t read, stay stupid:

            As to stupid, apparently, yes, you are. For I said, “No, this is not the real story of gun ownership in America. But it is the factual numbers game of guns in American just like saying “A very small percentage of gun owners ever shoot people” may be factual, but it is not the real story of American guns OR Americans shooting other Americans with those same guns.” Pretty sure while I said they are factual numbers, that what I portrayed is not the real story of gun ownership in America.

            But hey, I struck a nerve and that’s perhaps a good thing if it helps jog your head that seems to be firmly stuck up your arse.

        • Joe Gilbertson

          Frank, your numbers are wrong, biased and stupid. The number of people saved by guns far outweighs the number killed by them (and no, not all saved result in death…)

        • larry Horist

          Frank. If the vast majority of gun owners are not killers or criminals, does it really matter how many guns they own? The point is that most guns used in crime and killings are illegal guns. While it is true that some of the mass shooters of a certain type had the guns legally, that is the area we need to focus on. Get the illegal guns away from the crooks — which our big city Democrats leaders fail to do — and address how guns are purchased by younger individuals and those with troubled personalities. The age issue is easy … but setting a legal standard for potential killers is very limited constitutionally. And remember that the vast majority of official mass murders are committed in the inner cities — black on black or Hispanic on Hispanic. Get the illegal guns and you will do a lot to reduce mass shootings — in which four or more people are wounded or killed. I guess I will have to do a commentary to set the record straight.

          • frank stetson

            Why when you are even just adding some info, does it feel like you are arguing?

            Besides thinking you have defined the singular issue on guns, crime guns in Democratic cities, which you haven’t, I can’t disagree with the desire to get illegal guns away from guys doing things illegal. But your logic to get there seems a bit weird in places.

            “If the vast majority of gun owners are not killers or criminals, does it really matter how many guns they own?” This does not make sense. Fact is where there are more guns, there is more gun death. Isn’t gun death the thing to curtail if one could? The world tells us it’s possible. Only the US says No. Unless our criminal element is more criminal, what else could it be? Given the world’s politics, it’s hard to say liberalism in the US causes it, other liberal countries don’t have the issue.

            But the real fly in the ointment as noted above is that the death rate per 100K is higher in Trumpistan where there are more gun owners and looser gun laws. Correlation does not equal causation but the numbers are compelling. You seem to miss that from the other thread.

            Secondly, you are mixing mass murder with other gun murders, not on purpose or to spin, but makes things hard to follow. When you say: “that the vast majority of official mass murders are committed in the inner cities — black on black or Hispanic on Hispanic,” I am pretty sure that’s just not accurate.

            – 12 people died in Republican Aurora CO.
            – 4 died in Republican Jacksonville FL.
            – 4 in Republican Colorado Springs CO too.
            – 4 in Fresno, 8 in Omaha, (2) 4’s in Tulsa, same year too, (2) 4’s in Miami too a 4 and a 6 in Hialeah — all Republican and lots in your home state Larry. Isn’t your governor a Trumplicant on steroids?
            – 2 4’s in Oklahoma City.

            I can continue but I think you are really stretching when you say: mass murders are an urban minority on minority thing caused by Democrat rule. There’s even one in Herkimer New York, I have spent many a summer in Herkimer —- that ain’t no city and there ain’t many Democrats….. I am pretty sure that saying most mass murder is a minority on minority thing is bogus too. Murder maybe, but mass, pretty sure no.

            Here’s an interesting piece to illuminate you en masse, pun intended: I warn you, lots of whites in that list……

            Now you mention plain ole murder too, and there you have a point. There are more people in the cities, there is more death of all kinds, murder by gun included. There is more crime, and therefore more gun murders conducted in furtherance of said crimes. Yet the fact remains that you are safer from gun death in the city, that the higher rate per 100K citizens is in Trumpistan, the rural South and Mid-West to West until the coastal states.

            But your point, with a slight change: “Get the illegal guns and you will do a lot to reduce” gun murder removing what I think is your mass murder fallacy and I agree that it’s a good thing, but not the only thing.

            And then we get to the rub. We really don’t know. There are some old studies from prison populations, that study was 2004. Even in that study, states are so fucked up when it comes to tracking what do you know when any sale outside of a gun shop is not tracked as happens in many states. The CDC also considers gun death to be a major health risk but is precluded from doing primary research. Frankly, the arm of the NRA is very long and they have been actively against spending tax dollars in this manner or ANY possible furtherance of anything that could enhance the ability to track guns, gun sales, etc. The 1996 Dickey Bill pretty much put the kibosh on the CDC doing research. During Trump, the mere suggestion could get you fired, not much better under Obama. Here’s a good article on the data: But this is illegal ownership, not necessarily illegal guns. Here’s NPR explaining how the NRA pulled this off. Little known fact.

            So, let’s just go with getting the illegal guns out would be a good thing leaving Democrats, mass murders, blacks, out of it. PBS Frontline did a great piece on this which concludes:

            “Stolen guns account for only about 10% to 15% of guns used in crimes,”
            “one of the most common ways criminals get guns is through straw purchase sales.”
            next manner is “sales made by legally licensed but corrupt at-home and commercial gun dealers.” FFLs.

            “According to a recent ATF report, there is a significant diversion to the illegal gun market from FFLs. The report states that “of the 120,370 crime guns that were traced to purchases from the FFLs then in business, 27.7 % of these firearms were seized by law enforcement in connection with a crime within two years of the original sale. This rapid `time to crime’ of a gun purchased from an FFL is a strong indicator that the initial seller or purchaser may have been engaged in unlawful activity.””

            “The report goes on to state that “over-the-counter purchases are not the only means by which guns reach the illegal market from FFLs” and reveals that 23,775 guns have been reported lost, missing or stolen from FFLs since September 13, 1994, when a new law took effect requiring dealers to report gun thefts within 48 hours. This makes the theft of 6,000 guns reported in the CIR/Frontline show “Hot Guns” only 25% of all cases reported to ATF in the past two and one-half years.”

            “Another large source of guns used in crimes are unlicensed street dealers who either get their guns through illegal transactions with licensed dealers, straw purchases, or from gun thefts. These illegal dealers turn around and sell these illegally on the street. An additional way criminals gain access to guns is family and friends, either through sales, theft or as gifts.”

            Now that does not mean FFLs are corrupt, just a few, under 10%.

            But Larry, the real rub in trying to do what you want to do is the sheer number of legal guns that owners, either FFL or private. With these kinds of number, there will be a significant number of people under financial stress making selling their assets illegally even more tempting. Especially during stressful economic times like….well, now.

            Interesting piece:

            Still an older story, but my point is I agree, getting illegal guns off the street can help. I just think narrowing the focus in inner city minority shootings while blaming it all on Democratic policies doesn’t cover the waterfront, not even close. And you are right, it’s a difficult task but when one discovers how the guns got there, perhaps things can be done to lessen some of that. Likewise, attacking the access to the tool is only part of the solution. And when all is said and done, there will still be too many guns and therefore, too many guns acquired illegally. It’s our modern way of life and no one is changing that until we change ourselves and become more global, less cowboy. Tell you the truth, not sure I want to hang up my pearl buttoned shirt and turquoise festooned lanyards yet.

            I still favor punishment for the wrong use of the tool. Really lock em up, forever. And that includes any time a gun is used in any crime. Just having it should be enough to sacrifice a good part of your remaining life. And that goes for parent liability for their kids getting a gun and blasting someone. Lock em up for a good portion of their remaining life. Even if you are just with a guy who flashes some steel, lock that guy up too and make it really hurt.

          • Joe Gilbertson

            I think we all favor punishment of illegal use of guns. But we on the right are opposed to punishing the good guys because of the actions of the bad guys.

  4. JoAnn Leichliter

    There is a serious constitutional issue at play in the “gun control” iasue. One clear purpose of the Second Amendment was to deter the government–state or federal–from becoming dictatorial. We know this because those who framed the Constirution and Bill of Rights told us so in other writings. They in fact considered an armed citizenry to be so important that they stressed its necessity in the Bill of Rights, which does not confer but rather highlights the importance of the rights which it addresses. Popular sentiment ought not to figure into this matter at all, any more than it ought to figure into freedom of speech, press, or religion. Without a constitutional amendment, this right ought never to be infringed. It is not gun control we need–guns just don’t wander around shooting at people–it’s criminal control we need, and part and parcel of that is the Second Amendment.

  5. Trebor Retsbew

    The problem is not the guns but the gun culture of this USA. It is not so much now as it use to be and is going away slowly, at 85 years old, when i was growing up in my area everyone had a rifle, namely a 44-40 and most carried it every where they went in their Automobile and everyone hunted so they also had shot guns. It seems that after WWII then the hand gun culture seem to balloon and it seemed like everyone had to have a pistol of some type, the Ruger and revolver were the majority choices.
    I have been going to some friend funerals over the past 10 years and ask what they were going to do with their parents guns the majority answer was sell them because I have no need for them.
    The amazing thing is that in nearly every movie you see, the general theme is a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun which gives untrue expectations to gun owners. The fact is that if someone wants to do you harm a gun is not going to help you, mainly because they will already have their gun in their hand and you will have to get your gun out.

    • Blake

      It’s better than a rock. And if the gun culture is going away why has gun sales skyrocketed? And carrying guns really don’t guarantee that you will win. But I damned sure will try. Been there, done that

      • Perry

        To be clear, I’m not giving up my guns

        • Jesse

          Frank has failed to mention that the gun violence in many large cities is committed by mostly felons who aren’t allowed to have guns. And several people released without bail after being arrested for violent crimes. The pussies who calls themselves prosecutors should have to do the same amount of time along with the criminal. The system bears most of the blame in democrat ran states and cities. So hold off on trying to get people to disarm. Ain’t gonna happen. I’m hoping that the scotus will wipe out a lot of gun control soon when they hand down the decision on the New York case. Meanwhile, you lefties who coddle criminals can go suck

    • frank stetson

      I agree that US culture, and it’s subcultures like the NRA, the gangbanger, etc. all create our issues.

      Although I had to pause on your anecdote: “ask what they were going to do with their parents guns,” suddenly wanting to be a fly on that wall. How did you do that: “I’m so sorry for your loss, it was too soon, by the by, what are you doing with his guns?” Not the question I have gotten at the funerals I have been on the prospective receiving end of that….. Think “too soon,” would be my response.

    • Arnie Lytle

      I am the next younger generation than you, and I agree with you up to the point where, you say if a bad guy wants to do harm to you with a gun, having a gun will not help you.

      First off if you get a CCW Permit to carry a gun with you at all times (with a few exceptions), they will generally teach you a few things to change that.

      I believe that the vast majority of gun assualts are in places, and situations, that if you were paying attention and using your head, you probably would not have been there in that situation, that got you assualted in the first place. That is called situational awareness. It is very important to always be aware of what is going on around you in any situation, and if it is sketchy, don’t go there unless you absolutely have to.

      Second off if you do have to go into a situation that is very questionable, then you need to be prepared to use you gun. Very few gun assualts will ever happen to people that have good situational awareness and use good judgement before they go into any questionable situation.

      I also have a personal motto that I live by, as far as guns go. “If you pull a gun and shoot at me, don’t miss the first shot, because I will do my best to make sure you don’t get a second one off, and I don’t plan on missing”.

      If someone is going to pull a gun on me, they had better be ready to use it, and my personal belief is that the vast majority of criminals do not go to the range to learn how to be good marksmen, as most legal gun carrying citizens do and all should.

      Therefore, if someone pulls a gun on me, I am going to start moving, because I am not about to stand there and let someone shoot me, without trying to get out of their line of fire. Remember, a moving target is exponentially harder to hit than a stationary one. It is much easier for a moving marksman to hit a stationaly target than for a stationary shooter to hit a moving target!

      If you are going to carry a gun you need to constantly be thinking through scenarios of what if someone does this to me what will my reaction be. If I carry a gun into a mall (which I often do), when I walk in I look around for all of the escape routes and places to take cover if someone were to start shooting. That is the kind of things that we should all be doing as responsible gun owners and CCW carriers of weapons, and will help keep you alive in a shooting situation.

      Use your head and your gun wisely and you will likely live a lot longer and healthier life.

      Guns are not the problem, people are, and if you look at all of these mass shootings, they are generally younger (<35) men that have led lives that they are just angry about something. Some are looking for notoriety and fame and have a misguided idea that killing a bunch of people will get them in the news and that seems to be their motive. Some are made because they were bullied growing up so they decide to get even with whomever the bullies were, or if they can't do that, a group of people that represent the ones that bullied them.

      The real problem is that too many parents don't want to be parents any more, they just want to feed their kids and let them run wild and leave someone else to do the job of raising them with good moral values. Unfortunately there has been a group of people that have taken over too many of our schools and are raising our children and grandchildren completely devoid of moral values. We are raising a generation of kids that are growing up to have now clue how to be responsible adults so it becomes survival of the fitest, live by the law of the jungle, do what makes you feel good and gets you the social media likes, or whatever. But growing up to be productive, responsible adults is completely out of many of their grasps.

  6. frank stetson

    I don’t see this as right or left. I favor more things than just punishment as noted above and elsewhere, and beyond. And define “punishing the good guys” since I am not sure what potential restriction you are noting, of which there may be many.

    Of course, you opted not to respond to my response to your statement that PEW is totally wrong, biased, and, and stupid. You excel at the oblique.

    One of the issues we all have here is the scope and complexity. There ARE issues with both the TOOL, and the human. Numerous issues with the tool: illegal guns, tracking crime guns, mass murder, murder, suicide, kid murder/murdering, registration, permitting, urban, rural, and more. With the human too: mental health, training, age, liability, etc. Each issue can call for a different response, each response may only cover one issue. On top of that is the weird translation and adherence to the 2nd, the top issue being the fear of government intrusion which lobbies for citizen privacy on purchase creating a host of issues on which tracing crime guns and illegal guns comes top of mind.

    As I have said, I have guns, I like guns, I don’t want anyone’s guns, but I would like a win-win where we have more gun fun but less gun death. And yes, that might call for restrictions of certain gun features for homeowners, not the guns, but gun feature, although, in the true spirit of the 2nd, I would like to see all of those features, and much, much, more restored via, the 2nd, and well regulated militia’s, the first words of the second. I want rpg’s for militias, for example!