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Gun shop owner Jesus “Chuy” Aguirre attends to customer Angel Zacarias on Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021, in Chuy’s Gun Shop in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/Morgan Lee)

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By Larry Keane

An Axios/Ipsos poll showed Hispanic swing voters are concerned about crime, criminal violence and personal safety. That finding wasn’t a surprise to NSSF. Hispanic-Americans, along with nearly every other demographic group, are embracing their right to lawfully purchase and own a firearm. Firearm industry retail survey data revealed this growing trend a year ago. That’s when law-abiding Latinos purchased firearms in big numbers and the demographics of America’s gun owners continued to show growth.

Hispanic-Americans aren’t an outlier community and examples are plenty. Suburban swing voters and other minority groups demonstrated similar patterns as they saw policy failures affecting their safety, fully embraced lawful gun ownership and exercised their Second Amendment right.

Data Tells

The Axios/Ipsos poll asked Hispanic-Americans about their top concerns and crime and violence came in at the number two spot at 30 percent – behind only COVID worries at 37 percent. Per Axios, “The finding is a warning for President Biden ahead of next year’s midterms.” A similar Wall Street Journal poll from a week earlier showed Hispanic voters are turning away from Democrats, typically supportive of more gun control, and are now nearly evenly split between their party preference.

The 2022 elections mark the first regular national Election Day since the 2020 election over which time Americans have seen rampant violent crime in cities across the country, calls to defund the police and for prosecutors to go easy on convicted criminals. It also witnessed historic firearm sales.

Second Amendment Swings

The overlay of rising crime concerns for Hispanic-Americans and their firearm purchasing is stark. According to NSSF retailer survey data, law-abiding Hispanic-Americans purchased firearms in 2020 at a 49 percent higher rate than they did in 2019. That swing of Hispanic-Americans’ preference showed in the 2020 presidential election where former President Donald Trump’s message of law and order and support for the Second Amendment resonated. The former president garnered 10 percent more Hispanic-American vote share than he did in 2016.

The trends stood out in states like Texas and California. LaPolitica Online reported on the swing of Hispanic-Americans purchasing firearms. Rafael Cedillo owns a firearm safety business where he offers training and educational courses in El Paso where in 2019 a murderer killed 23 people at Walmart. “It’s sad, but my business really booms after a tragic incident,” Cedillo said. The firearm buying surge left his business busy. “After the one in El Paso, my home, I couldn’t fit everyone into my schedule.”

Latino voters in Texas have also failed to carry gun control candidates over the finish line. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) defeated former U.S. Rep. Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke in the 2018 senate race and Republican Gov. Greg Abbott received more than 44 percent of the Latino vote in the previous midterm election.

Election 2020 Beto O'Rourke
Beto O’Rourke (AP Photo/John Locher)

In the national elections in 2020 and off-year 2021 elections in Virginia, billionaire gun control backer and former failed presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg used his gun control groups Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action and spent more than $1 billion dollars to swing legislative seats at the state and federal level. He came up short as voters roundly rejected him and his policies to restrict the Second Amendment.

Right of All

The same NSSF survey data that showed a 49 percent increase in Hispanic-American gun owners between 2019 and 2020 also revealed 40 percent of all firearm purchases went to first-time buyers. With more than 8.4 million first-time owners in 2020 combined with more than 3.2 million in the first six months of 2021, the portion of Americans who previously may have supported gun control or refused to buy a gun became so moved by the crime surge and violence that they witnessed, no matter what their race or politics before, and went to the community firearm retailer and walked out with a new purchase.

CBS News reported on P.J. Gomez, a law student at University of California Berkeley – hardly a bastion of gun rights supporters – who founded the Latino Rifle Association. The group has already added several hundred members. “I don’t believe self-defense… should be exclusive to people on the right politically,” Gomez said. “The police and the government aren’t taking care of me, so I have to do things on my own.”

That belief manifested itself in the historic number of new gun owners in America, including large numbers of African-Americans, Asian-Americans and Hispanic-Americans. If law-abiding citizens of any race or gender continue to see elected officials fail to protect them and make their communities safer, they will continue to go out and legally purchase firearms. They’ll also support candidates at the polls who will protect their right to do so.

 

Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

 

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