As much as our frenemies on the Right would like us to believe that “Islamic terrorism” is the main threat to our nation, a majority of Americans recognize that the true threat is gun violence at the hands of their own countrymen.Between 2001 and 2013, 403,496 people died by firearms on United States soil. When compared to the 350 U.S. citizens killed overseas at the hands of terrorists and the 3,030 killed in domestic acts of terrorism (a total of 3,380) during the same period, it is clear what the problem is.
The NRA and its acolytes live in a fantasy world where everyone with a gun magically becomes a superhero when danger threatens, but most of the time they end up dead or shoot the victim in the head and allow the “bad guy” to escape, et cetera, et cetera. Most of the country, it turns out, questions exactly how “good” the “good guys with guns” and “responsible gun owners” of America are.
According to a McClatchy-Marist poll released Tuesday, the majority of Americans — 63 percent, to be exact — said that they more fear that they or someone they know will fall victim to gun violence. By comparison, only 29 percent said they worry more about terrorist attacks. Democrats overwhelmingly say they fear guns over terrorism by 77 to 15 percent, and Independents by 64 to 28 percent, but Republicans and Tea Partiers (in other words, the people who think Breitbart is a legitimate source of news), fear terrorism more than gun violence — unsurprising, given the extreme focus by right-wing media and politicians on what Trump supporters would call the “Muslim problem” and the NRA’s stranglehold on the conservative population.
However, when one considers the anti-Islam and pro-gun propaganda on the Right, the numbers are surprising, even among the Tea Party. Republicans view terrorism as a larger threat by 55-45 percent, while the Tea Party expresses a slightly higher fear of terrorism at 57 to 37 percent.
Recently, President Obama called for tougher laws to help curb gun violence — an issue that is of some import to both parties — something that the Right nigh-universally decried. Unfortunately, the first step to solving the issue of gun violence is changing the culture that permeates many facets of our society.
Overall, voters are expected to care more about domestic issues over foreign policy matters like ISIS and terrorism in 2016, the poll reveals, with 69 percent favoring domestic issues. Democrats want to focus on income inequality, followed by jobs and economic growth. Republicans care about the federal deficit followed by economic growth and jobs.Ultimately, Republicans are going to need to drop the fear-mongering about terrorism (and Muslims in general) and begin, like Democrats, to focus on issues that are important to most Americans if they want to have any hope of putting Trump or Carson in the White House — but we all know that they won’t give up their Benghazi, Clinton email, and Planned Parenthood scandals long enough to even think about doing something to make America a more prosperous nation.
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.