Fascinating stuff, mainly because it really is a surprise. My hunch when I first glanced at it was that this was still more gun-rights backlash (some of it decidedly creepy) to Obama’s election, but eyeball the long-term trend. Freaky deaky:
I would have guessed that opposition to gun control always spikes during moments of fear, economic or otherwise, which means we should see sharp downward movement here during the Reagan recession of the early 80s and after 9/11. Tain’t so; in fact, support for gun control actually rose during the former period. Check out the numbers in 1959, too. I always assumed Americans have become more inclined towards gun-grabbing over time as the country’s become less rural, but that’s also completely wrong. In fact, within five years, support for gun control had lost 11 points and by 1980 it had collapsed to almost half the percentage it had just 20 years earlier, a trend I assume was a reaction to rising crime levels in the 1970s. Still, how many hot-button issues have ever seen movement that dramatic in such a short period?
Maybe the most notable detail is that Obama’s election hasn’t affected the issue that much. Granted, we’re at an all-time low, but we’ve been trending that way for five years. The Supreme Court’s ruling in Heller doesn’t appear to have created any pronounced effect one way or the other, either. Anyone have a unified field theory to explain the numbers?