During a recent speech in Iowa, Hillary Clinton made a statement about “the uncontrollable use of guns” in America. We need to do something about it, apparently—what, exactly, she wants to do wasn’t stated. But while we wait for her solution, we have these words of encouragement from Clinton: “Let’s not be afraid of the gun lobby, which does not even really represent the majority of gun owners in America.”
While we can’t speak for the entire “gun lobby,” NRA does a lot more than represent the majority of gun owners in America. It represents the majority of Americans, who say they are not interested in more gun control. And as it turns out, it represents a strong majority of Americans who identify as Independents—the fabled swing voter demographic.
A recent Zogby poll asked participants to identify which of two statements more closely resembled their views on guns, and tracked answers according to political orientation. They were as follows:
Statement A: One side says there are too many guns in circulation in the U.S. and without universal background checks, which close the ‘gun-show loopholes’ and federal registration for all firearms purchases, not to mention outright banning high capacity magazine weapons like semi-automatics, there will continue to be more opportunities for violent and mentally ill people to get guns and kill innocent people.
Statement B: Others say that the Second amendment is designed to allow all Americans to protect themselves from potential harm, to ensure that law enforcement agencies and the government do not have a monopoly on gun possession, and that there are already laws to protect people against criminal behavior. Supporters of the Second Amendment and pro-gun groups also point to areas of the country where concealed-carry laws have been passed and crime rates have decreased.
Unsurprisingly, self-identified Democrats tended to favor Statement A, while Republicans picked Statement B, each by a roughly 3-to-1 ratio. What is notable is that 45 percent of those participants listed as Independents preferred Statement B, compared to 36 percent who supported A.
Independents win elections—just ask Gov. Scott Walker, who triumphed in the Wisconsin recall election in 2014 largely due to support from swing voters. And here we are, seeing on a nationwide scale what we saw in Wisconsin: Independents care about the Second Amendment. This is not a new phenomenon. A poll conducted by the Washington Post and ABC in May 2014 posed a simpler question than Zogby’s: Which party do you agree with more on the issue of gun control? Forty-nine percent of Independents chose the GOP, as opposed to 29 percent who sided with the Democrats.
The Zogby poll demonstrates that, no matter how loudly anti-gun activists sound off, Independents remain strongly on the side of freedom. We live in a complicated democracy: While most Americans support gun rights, elections do not hinge on the consensus of a simple national majority. Some votes count for more than others, and swing states can make or break a presidential candidate. It is reassuring to see that on the matter of the Second Amendment, Independents continue to lean in our direction.