Obama faces a quandary—the NRA is gaining support and gun control is losing it.
The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) suggests it is the tension resulting from these two factors—and the inaction such as it produced in lawmakers—that finally pushed Obama to take matters into his own hands with executive gun control.
According to WSJ, support for the NRA has been increasing over the last three decades. And that is a pretty phenomenal feat when you consider the way the NRA was lambasted during the Clinton administration, by Democrat Senators during the Bush administration, and by Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and the entire Democrat Party during the Obama administration.
In 1987, twenty-seven percent of Americans strongly supported the NRA. In December 2015, that number had risen to 38 percent. In order words, over one-in-three Americans “strongly support” the NRA.
On the other hand—also in December—by a margin of 8 percent, “registered voters [responding] in the Journal/NBC survey… said they were more concerned that the government would go too far in restricting gun rights than that it fail to do enough to regulate access to firearms.” Also in December, a New York Times poll found that the gun control pendulum had shifted to the point that a majority of American opposed an “assault weapons” ban for the first time in 20 years.
In addition to these things, the American people are voting with their feet by walking into gun stores all around the country and buying firearms at a record pace. Figures from the FBI show that 2015 set a record for the number of background checks performed in a single year, with 23,141,970 checks performed.
So the NRA enjoys the “[strong] support” of more than one-in-three Americans while support for gun control is losing ground. WSJ suggests that this put Obama in a position where he had to go it alone.
Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.