For the mediaocracy and pundit class, determining the opinions of millennials on all sorts of topics is the great 21st-century parlor game. And it seems that nothing confuses them more — or upsets them, for that matter — than when forced to confront millennial attitudes about guns.
A prime example was this recent piece in The Washington Post: “‘Millennials’ Mysterious Support for Permissive Gun Laws.”
Written by opinion columnist Catherine Ramped (herself a millennial), the piece expresses puzzlement and disdain over the strong support among young people for gun rights found in recent public opinion polling. Part of her explanation is that her generation simply is “somewhat inured to violence — at least violence involving firearms.” She also blames what she sees as apathy and ambivalence.
NBC News recently issued a similar — and similarly condescending — report: “Millennials Are Less Likely to Support Gun Control Than You’d Think.”
Implicit in such stories is the seeming conventional wisdom that millennials, whose views on many social and political issues tend to skew liberal, should naturally also support efforts to restrict gun ownership. The fact that we don’t constitutes a mystery.
But is it really so difficult to understand?
In spite of the prevailing attitude toward millennials in the media, where it seems we are often portrayed as somewhat unmotivated and unwilling to engage on important issues, millennials are incredibly passionate, motivated, empirically minded and data-driven. And when it comes to gun control, we have a mountain of evidence over the last half-century to show that government efforts to restrict gun ownership are utterly ineffective at achieving their stated claims: a safer society through the reduction of violent crime.
The current poster child for gun control’s failure is Chicago, which has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation. Yet despite the city’s onerous legal regime when it comes to guns, according to the Chicago Tribune, the Windy City experienced 2,988 shootings within its borders in 2015. And 2016 is looking much worse; Chicago has already exceeded that number so far this year — and has 500 gun-related murders to boot — with more than three months still to go.
Cities such as Washington, DC, New York, and Los Angeles have had similar experiences. Gun control laws not only fail to reduce crime. In many instances crime and shootings increase as a result of legislative attempts to restrict guns.
At the heart of the push for gun control is a mindset — admittedly sincere in many instances — that is rooted in the false belief that gun laws will remove guns from the hands of those who would use them to commit crimes.
The obvious problem is that criminals are criminals. They are a class of people whose inherent attitudes toward laws is to disobey them, particularly those laws that would restrict their own access to firearms. The irony of gun laws is that they really only affect those law-abiding citizens who pose no danger in the first place. They are a simplistic attempt to solve a complex problem, and they fail 100 percent of the time.
Millennials may be a lot of things, but they are not stupid. In the process of researching my documentary “Targeted: Exposing the Gun Control Agenda,” I’ve spoken to a lot of young people. What made the biggest impression on them were the cold, hard facts about guns, gun ownership, and crime, and the underlying data to support them. Less convincing are the emotional appeals that have long been made by gun-control advocates in the place of rational arguments.
Consider, for instance, the fact that gun crime rates typically have not risen in regions when the number of concealed-carry permit holders increases. That point goes a long way to convincing millennials that the problem isn’t simply the number of guns, it’s who is holding them.
Moreover, it’s worth considering that during the two-decade period from 1992 to 2011, violent crime rates fell nearly in half in the United States while the murder rate fell dramatically as well. Why is that significant? Because it was a period when gun laws nationwide generally became less restrictive (notwithstanding the experience in several major urban centers).
For all the hysterical talk about gun violence in the United States, the truth is that our nation ranks relatively low in terms of gun murders per 100,000 people. It is impossible to reconcile that with the fact the United States leads the world in civilian firearms ownership. Millennials — to their credit — don’t try to.
• Twenty-two-year-old filmmaker Jesse Winton’s latest documentary, “Targeted: Exposing the Gun Control Agenda, “debuts in theaters nationwide for one-night only on September 29.