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UT – SELF-PROTECTION – Guns and the Rural Vote

Guns may be the most polarizing issue in America. While some progressives dismiss calls for “understanding” gun owners as a Trojan horse, there is a purely pragmatic reason for them to care: gun lovers are voting against them. They don’t have to be. And the changes it would take to reach them are nearly costless. When it comes to political partisanship, America is divided largely along geographical lines. Democrats tend to dominate the coasts and upper Midwest, and Republicans control the South, plains and Mountain West region. But more specifically, and as anyone who watched the election night newscasts could observe, the partisan divide is between urban and rural America. Rural areas vote red, and cities vote blue. Rural voters turned out overwhelmingly for Trump. What’s going on? How has the GOP consolidated rural voters within its coalition? The issue of gun rights provides one piece of the puzzle, and a window into the larger issue of partisanship. The NRA is weaker than ever, but rural Americans don’t care any less about guns. We care about what guns mean to us. In rural communities, gun-related activities are the center of life. If you don’t see eye to eye with your family on other issues, or if they don’t approve of the paths you’ve taken in life, none of it matters if you can still shoot or hunt together. Growing up in my family, the calendar was marked not by the list of traditional holidays, but by the opening days of various hunting seasons and the associated family trips. Guns are a marker of shared identity. They confer a sense of belonging and status. As an acquaintance in Wyoming once said to me, “There are three seasons: hunting season; planning-the-hunt season; and remembering-the-hunt season.” It’s no exaggeration to say that guns help orient one’s life as an agent extended across time.  [full article]


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