The consensus of dissensus

Five charts on guns, reform, and tribalism in America today.

The author(s)

  • Clifford Young President, US, Public Affairs
  • Sarah Feldman Data Journalist, US, Public Affairs
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After a multiple violent mass shootings in recent weeks, we, yet again, return to the topic of gun control and the role it plays in our tribalized divided time. These incidences of mass violence have become all too familiar in recent years. Guns are at the center of our hyper-partisan world, politically, legislatively, and culturally.

Are real solutions possible? Where does the public stand on gun control? Will Buffalo and Uvalde be turning points? Right now, there is some consensus on gun control across party, but there is also significant division. What’s more, our data shows real skepticism that their elected officials will make change.

Below are five charts on guns, reform, and tribalism in America today:

  1. Gun control central to tribalism. While there are moments of bipartisan agreement around gun control, guns cut at the heart of our hyper-partisan world. Is the solution to mass shootings more guns? Is gun control masquerading as a way for the government to take away people’s guns? The answers to these questions are one of the markers of our divided country.americans divided on firearms
  2. In theory, gun control unites us. In practice, divisions remain. Majorities of Americans, regardless of party, support some form of gun control regulation. Yet, partisanship divides the public on where guns should be allowed, whether elementary school teachers or staff should be armed, and if law abiding citizens should be allowed to carry concealed weapons. A tale of two Americas—one red, the other blue.theory gun control unites
  3. Political mobilization vs. division. Many Americans would back a candidate in the midterms who would support the right to own firearms and supports laws to limit easy access to guns. Yet, when asked about political groups, like the NRA, the partisan signals go up, and division ensues.Political mobilization
  4. Lack of confidence around action. Even though there is some consensus among the public around gun control, most Americans are not confident that their elected representatives will do something this year to strengthen gun laws in the U.S. No political will, no action.confidence leaders
  5. Is this our turning point? Nearly all Americans are aware of the recent mass shootings that have taken place in the past weeks, regardless of party. When asked about the shooting in Buffalo, many Black Americans were sad and angry, but few were shocked or surprised. These mass shootings have become the grim backdrop of American life, and even for communities reeling after one of these events, few are shocked. In fact, many aren’t surprised and expect this our turning point?

Guns are integral to how we describe our politics. Despite this, there are some areas for bipartisanship. Discouragingly, though, even when there is consensus and potential for solutions, the impulse for division is strong and ever-present when it comes to gun control. Few believe their elected leaders will deliver on solutions.

One more mass shooting— it is now something that is now commonplace in today’s America. 

The author(s)

  • Clifford Young President, US, Public Affairs
  • Sarah Feldman Data Journalist, US, Public Affairs