Gun Ownership is Declining

The loud voices of gun-rights extremists make it seem as though they have the majority of Americans on their side. To the contrary, they represent a smaller and smaller percentage of households in America and in Illinois.

The University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center (NORC) has been asking this question every two years since 1973: “Do you happen to have in your home (or garage) any guns or revolvers?” The household gun ownership rate has fallen from an average of 50 percent in the 1970s to 32 percent in 2010, according to the survey data analyzed by The New York Times.

The rate of gun ownership in Illinois is even lower: 20.2 percent, according to a 2001 study reported in the Washington Post. Since the percentage of gun ownership has continued to decline since 2001, it’s fair to assume that more than 80% of Illinois households do not own any guns. And even most gun owners support reasonable gun violence prevention measures like universal background checks, prohibiting assault weapons, and limiting the size of magazine clips.

The November 2014 ballot in Cook County contained an advisory referendum on requiring background checks for firearm sales and prohibiting assault weapon sales. It passed with 84% of votes cast in the suburbs (556,074 to 106,659 votes) and 90% in the City of Chicago (536,655 to 61,639) .

So remember: we have most of the people on our side. The gun rights extremists do not, no matter how many times and how loudly they say they do.

Looking back, looking forward

The results of this year's election were not what we had hoped they would be. Historically, the President's party loses seats in the sixth year of an Administration. As Juan Williams wrote, this year was not bad by historical standards.

Defeat should not obscure the good things we accomplished. Governor Quinn ran a great campaign, articulating the differences between the parties. Unlike Democrats in other states, he took pride in the success of Obamacare and other accomplishments of Democrats at the state and Federal levels. His field organization (of which we were a part) was the best I've seen other than the Obama campaigns. Voters strongly supported Democratic positions on all the referenda, including raising the minimum wage.

Laddi Singh ran a wonderful campaign for State Representative. For the first time, Indian-American and Asian-American voters saw a candidate they could relate to. Laddi built bridges between the Democratic Party and growing communities in our area. By showing that a Punjabi woman could represent the mainstream views of suburban voters, Laddi blazed a trail that she and other candidates will follow to victory.

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Fewer than 1% want concealed carry


The title of your August 11th story (“Illinois concealed carry process getting easier”) ignores the most important fact contained in that story. Only 84,000 applications for concealed carry permits have been filed in the entire state of Illinois. The Illinois State Police had said they expected to process 300,000 to 400,000 applications in 2014. As recently as May 8th, the Daily Herald reported that officials "expect about 300,000 applications to be filed this year.”

84,000 people is fewer than one percent of the population of Illinois. That confirms what common sense tells us: 99 percent of people do not want to carry guns. The Illinois law that prohibited concealed carry reflected the overwhelming consensus of the people, but a Federal court overturned the law so that a small group could indulge their “Dirty Harry” fantasies. There is no credible evidence that any significant number of crimes are prevented by civilians carrying guns, but  innocent people have been killed or injured by vigilantes.

Retired Justice John Paul Stevens has predicted that the Second Amendment will eventually be amended by adding the words “while serving in the militia.” That would return the Second Amendment to its original purpose.

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