It is sobering that shootings in the United States now go relatively unnoticed, other than a racially-charged shooting that makes it to the mainstream press, such as Trayvon Martin’s death or Renisha McBride’s death, or the deaths of children such as in Newtown, Connecticut. But even when these shootings take place and the inevitable dialogue about “what we could have done” starts up again, the dialogue usually turns to how guns do not kill people and gun ownership is not at fault for the shooting. This dialogue is indicative of a greater trend in American people’s thought.
In the 1990s, slightly less than fifty percent of Americans owned a gun; now less than forty percent of Americans own a gun. But even as fewer and fewer Americans own a gun, more and more people feel that gun restrictions, as of the present, are fine as they are, with seventy-eight percent of Americans supporting more gun regulations in 1990 compared to currently thirty-seven percent supporting more gun regulations now. 
The constitutional right to own a gun has been affirmed by the Supreme Court in the case, District of Columbia v Heller, in 2008, which mandated that the ability to own a gun was unconnected to a citizen belonging in the militia. Thus, the traditional argument that citizens have a right to bear arms became encased in precedent, and seemingly embraced by Americans around the country, with more and more seeing handguns as having a necessary place in American homes as a way to ensure personal safety. This need to guarantee one’s own personal safety reflects a lack of faith in the authorities—who is to say that the police will be fast enough to guarantee someone’s safety?
The hands-off approach—that a person can decide for themselves and to some extent, protect themselves—is indicative of a greater trend in American politics. The nation, as a whole, has grown more wary of government intervention. Republicans are stereotypically more wary of intervention with respect to the economy and to individuals’ economic wellbeing. Democrats have traditionally been more socially liberal, expecting less government intervention in people’s personal lives. But the overwhelming trend in this country is liberalization with regard to personal lives.
Gallup released a poll a month ago that revealed that, for the first time ever, a majority of Americans approve of marijuana being legalized. Gallup also revealed recently that a majority of Americans approve of same-sex marriage. Notably, many Americans who support gay marriage do not believe that gay marriage would necessarily improve society, but neither would it harm it, which lends to the idea that these Americans believe that people should be able to do what they want, as long as it isn’t harmful to the rest of society. Last year, Gallup found that a majority of Americans believe that the government should not favor any set of values, unlike previously where people wanted the government to favor traditional values; the change in this belief is most dramatic among Republicans.
These polls all point to a larger trend of Americans continuing a trend of increasingly hands-off government in terms of social matters. Since the ability to own a gun is uncontested, Americans want to see as few regulations as possible on their right—similar to how they want to see few regulations in other aspects of life. The implications of this new self-sufficiency are critical to how we address gun regulations in this country. So long as Americans consider guns to be a right, there will be little political will to increase regulation on an already-regulated industry.
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