There has been a clear downtrend in gun ownership since its peak in the late '70s, according to NORC data. (Its findings are disputed by some observers yet broadly consistent with Gallup polling on the issue.) However, separate figures have shown a nationwide surge in gun sales and permit requests in the last few years — a phenomenon some have connected to public ire among Second Amendment supporters over Obama's proposals for new restrictions.
Key demographic and ideological differences between those who favor or oppose permit requirements remain rather high.
In some cases, that gulf has widened in recent years, hitting record highs.
According to the NORC survey of gun owners, 53 percent of respondents identified as Republicans and 25 percent as Democrats. Of that number, 83 percent of Democrats favored gun regulation while 59 percent of Republicans held the same view — a difference of 24 percentage points. Yet just a decade ago, the difference in gun regulation along party lines was around 10 percent.
When it comes to ethnicity, 40 percent of whites own guns, compared with 14 percent of nonwhites. Although the overall trend is down for both groups, the absolute differences between them still remain high: Roughly 82 percent of nonwhites favor gun regulation to 68 percent of whites — a difference of 14 percentage points.
The last time the gap was this high was in 1977, when Jimmy Carter was in the White House.