Regarding the gun debate, the Democratic party seems to be the major party that supports stricter gun control.

Currently the Official democratic position is to put greater restrictions on what types of guns you can own, and make it harder to obtain a gun.

A few years ago, the democrats had a tendency to oppose concealed carry laws.

There are some cities where guns are outright banned such as Chicago.

I have found it incredibly difficult to find data that suggests that stricter gun restrictions has any effect on crime at all. Positive or negative.

Why do democrats so fervently support gun restrictions?

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    Whether or not there is evidence supporting this, there is a perception - and politics is largely about how people perceive you rather than facts, which can make this a good position politically. – enderland Apr 9 '13 at 15:26
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    You seem to be asking "Why does anyone support gun control?" Or do you mean "Why do Democrats in particular support gun control?" – DJClayworth Apr 9 '13 at 16:07
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    If you haven't found any evidence that gun control reduces homicide rates, especially multiple killings then you really haven't been looking. – DJClayworth Apr 9 '13 at 16:08
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    May I suggest one of the two following phrasings, depending on what you meant. Either "Why is it that Democrats tend to be more in favor of gun control than Republicans?" or "What are the arguments used by those in favor of increasing gun control?" – DJClayworth Apr 10 '13 at 2:24
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    It is indeed difficult to find any credible sources for how gun control affects crime rates in the US because people from both sides of the issue spread a lot of misleading information. – Philipp Jul 26 '16 at 13:18

Firstly, it is worth noting that what we mean by "gun control" varies considerably. Most Americans are in favour of stricter gun controls, and this has been a historic trend if we're going on Gallup's polls since 1990. It's an interesting trend, since from a high of 78% of respondents saying they want stricter control in 1990, support fell to a low of 44% in 2010, and since then it has been rebounding erratically to 55% in late 2015. Those in opposition are generally in favour of the status quo rather than liberalisation of gun laws, at best only 14% of pollsters were in favour of less strict laws in 2014.

However, support for gun controls are higher when some specific questions are asked. Data from June by a CNN/ORC poll found very high support for some policies; like 92% in favour of expanded background checks, 90% in favour of those on a terror or no fly list being banned from purchasing, 87% support for a ban on felons and people with mental health issues from buying, 85% for a ban on those on a federal watch list from buying. These are the sort of proposals which recently were voted down by Congress, so for many specific gun policies there is solid support and it is not a partisan issue.

A lot less said they'd want a ban on assault weapons or high capacity clips, but it was still majority consensus at 54%. In contrast, the desire to ban guns outright is a minority opinion; only 5% of those from the aforementioned Gallup polls (a 2011 poll in this case) were for banning hand guns or bullets.

According to the same poll Democrats are decidedly more likely to vote for gun control; 78% against 29% of Republicans (and 53% of independents).

This is probably owing to the philosophical differences between the two parties. The Republican party has in recent years become the party against government; with many echoing Reagan's 1986 comment:

"The nine most terrifying words in the English language are 'I'm from the government, and I'm here to help.'"

In comparison Democrats believe that government can be used for good, much like the phrase used in JFK's inauguration address:

"And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country"

The crux of the schism is between classical and progressive liberalism; Republicans in the former camp and Democrats in the latter. Classical liberals view the state as an obstruction to personal liberty, as taxes and laws inhibit individual opportunities. Progressive liberals view the state as an agent promoting collective liberty; as taxes pay for public services and laws can reduce unfairness. They're attempting to tackle the same question, of how to increase liberty and prosperity, from opposite angles.

This manifests in the gun control debate, as Republicans often view gun controls as a threat to their individual rights, and Democrats often view gun controls as a means to collective security. This issue is far more emotive than usual because of what guns are; tools designed to kill people.

In the Republican view, this is primarily defensive, and gun controls remove their ability to defend themselves, which makes them feel scared. Democrats view guns as primarily offensive, and inadequate gun control as leading to increasing threats to their life, which makes them feel scared. Both sides feel highly emotional on the issue... because it invokes anxiety about death, which as you can imagine, doesn't predispose one to debate things calmly or rationally.

There's also a cultural aspect to it, as Republican strongholds are rural and southern. The right to guns in this context is seen as part of one's right to an honourable life. And that culture is lacking from most Democrat strongholds.

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    Recommending highlighting the number of individuals polled for the CNN/ORC poll: 1001. – Drunk Cynic Jul 26 '16 at 19:32
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    @DrunkCynic that's quite a typical number for a poll. – inappropriateCode Jul 26 '16 at 20:05
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    Your edit 5 addressed my annoyance. There is a strong difference between implying 'universal' over solid support, over a small portion polled. – Drunk Cynic Jul 27 '16 at 15:32

For starters, I'm not sure how fervent the support is for actual restrictions. Many elected democrats have a large number of pro-gun constituents.

We also need to define 'restrictions'. Democrats, more than republicans, do tend to be for more gun control regulations. There have been proposed restrictions, specifically they have restricted assault rifles in the past, but overall, there haven't been that many new restrictions. There have been proposed additional regulations, however (such as broader registration requirements, closing collector loopholes, etc).

So, I think it's fair to say democrats support gun regulation, on average, MORE than republicans do. Why? It has to do with the voter base. It also has to do with the NRA, which has a vested interest in protecting the gun manufacturing industries, and tends to support republican candidates more than democrats.

As for studies, there aren't a lot. And the ones that are out usually have another study that can contradict it. (ie, no huge consensus). Part of why that is the NRA's succesful lobbying to restrict the governments ability to do gun violence studies.

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    Properly characterize why the NRA lobbied against 'gun violence' research. For about a decade the CDC demonstrated strong biases against personal firearms ownership, This included material published specifically against gun owners in 1995, using funds from the CDC grant research pool. thefederalist.com/2015/12/15/… – Drunk Cynic Jun 25 '16 at 22:26
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    @Drunk Cynic yes, gun biolence tends to paint guns in a bad light. I also wouldn't go crying 'bias' then use the Federalist as a reference. Regardless, the NRA has blocked all real research. They are a lobbyist group. A really good one. – user1530 Jun 26 '16 at 17:22
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    The NRA hasn't blocked research; they lobbied to stop the use of Federal revenue for said research, after there was a demonstrated advocacy against the Right to Keep and Bear Arms using the same. Nothing is stopping private research from occurring. – Drunk Cynic Jul 27 '16 at 16:54
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    @DrunkCynic "they lobbied to stop the use of Federal revenue for said research" = NRA has blocked research. – user1530 Jul 27 '16 at 17:39
  • @blip The straight-forward reading of "NRA has blocked research." is "The NRA has made research impossible". You seem to be meaning it as "There is research that the NRA has blocked", making your comment misleading at best. In this context, when a set is the object of the verb, the standard parsing is that the verb applies to the entirety of the set. – Acccumulation Oct 9 '17 at 3:42

Let me give an analogous situation that illustrates gun violence is not unique.

Workplace injury:

  1. Approach one-Have the government inspect job sites and impose standards. Fine companies that do not meet those standards.
  2. Approach two-Allow injured employees to sue for damages when a workplace injury occurs.

Move two firearms and there are two analogous approaches:

  1. Approach one-Enforce restrictions on gun ownership.
  2. Approach two-penalize those who use guns to commit crimes.

We have one party that tends toward the first approach and another that goes to the second.

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    Not saying that's a great analogy, but the way you wrote it, one could say "one party is trying to be proactive, the other reactive" – user1530 Jul 27 '16 at 17:41
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    Interesting that neither set of approaches is mutually exclusive. – agc Oct 7 '17 at 0:58
  • Approach two in the gun area should be - "allow injured parties to sue for damages when injury occurs." Related fact: the PLCAA largely disallows gun victims from suing gun manufacturers, preventing approach two from being in properly in effect. The PLCAA was passed largely by Republicans and opposed almost exclusively by Demcorats. So apparently the Republican party does not support approach one OR approach two, and the Democratic party supports both approach one AND approach two. – John Aug 5 '19 at 17:07

When traffic deaths were a common occurrence, we introduced laws for mandatory seatbelts, safer cars, slower speed limits, better road designs, and traffic deaths decreased.

When bad drugs and food was a common cause of serious sickness, we introduced the FDA to ensure that food was sanitary, and drugs were controlled, safe and effective, and health increased.

When many people were injured by dangerous workplace practices, we introduced OSHA to ensure workers were trained and protected, machinery was safe, and work was done safely. Work place injuries dropped off dramatically.

Why would you believe the same cannot be done with guns?
They are a major source of preventable injuries and deaths.

  • While this is a fine stance, I'm not sure it actually answers the question. You could perhaps point out whether or not those other regulations tended to come from the left side of the aisle more than the right and, if so, perhaps draw a correlation there. – user1530 Oct 6 '17 at 16:45

People who identify themselves as Democratic tend to lean left, and tend to live in urban settings. In urban areas, a firearm is just not something that has any use... well, legal use, anyway. No place to shoot it, nothing to hunt. The only time that firearms come into use in a big city is either during the commission of a crime, or law enforcement reacting to criminals.

Republicans tend to lean more right or occasionally libertarian, and tend to live in more rural settings, where a firearm is a tool or a recreational item, as in targets or game hunting.

Consequently, Democrats in their urban setting see nothing but bad uses of firearms. Republicans in their more rural settings, see plenty of good uses.

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    As a republican who has lived in a big city, a legitimate use of a firearm is shooting individuals that break into your house with evil intent. As it is often said, when you are in imminent danger, the police are often minutes away. Further, there is an inverse relationship to between the likelihood a home has a firearm and the likelihood some one will attack it when occupied. – Drunk Cynic Oct 8 '17 at 18:21
  • @DrunkCynic yes, but it's not something that actually happens much, so tj's point still stands. And, in general, burglars rarely break into occupied houses--with or without guns being present. – user1530 Oct 9 '17 at 19:53
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    @blip If the point is "In urban areas, a firearm is just not something that has any use... well, legal use anyway." Then the point is wrong. DC vs Heller. – Drunk Cynic Oct 9 '17 at 20:09
  • @DrunkCynic I interpreted it as 'practical' use. You're not going to go hunting in Manhattan because a) it's illegal and b) aside from maybe the zoo, there's not much to hunt. – user1530 Oct 9 '17 at 20:23

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