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[T]rying to compel compliance by belatedly imposing registration requirements is also a losing bet. Gun policy is a divisive issue and people know that some politicians want to outlaw and even confiscate what is currently legal; they don’t seem inclined to make that goal easy to achieve. When Connecticut required owners of so-called “assault weapons” (really, semi-automatic rifles with a military appearance) to register their property with the state, it achieved all of 15 percent compliance; compliance in New York with a similar rule topped out at 5 percent. … 

The partisan associations of gun control proposals almost certainly sound the death knell for their prospects. The United States is a politically polarized country, in which relations between factions are defined by animosity. About 55 percent of Republicans and 44 percent of Democrats say the other party is “not just worse for politics—they are downright evil,” Louisiana State University political scientist Nathan Kalmoe reported in 2019 of relations between the major political factions. It’s unreasonable to expect that anybody would abide by restrictions they deeply oppose and that they associate with their enemies. 

In an additional reality check for advocates of restrictions, the growth in gun ownership among Democrats and some of their traditional constituencies amid loss of faith in government to keep the peace and treat people with respect makes it more likely that support for tighter gun laws will decline in their ranks than that Republicans will change their attitudes.

A majority of Americans may currently favor more restrictive laws regarding firearms, but that majority looks likely to shrink in the years to come, making policy changes less likely as the years go by. That’s just as well, since passage of such laws would leave the powers-that-be looking thoroughly ineffective given that the people who would actually be touched by them have demonstrated their unwillingness to submit to such policies.

— J.D. Tuccille in Don’t Be Surprised if Gun Owners Don’t Comply With Gun Control Laws


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