Updated: Jun 9
Gen Z and millennial Republicans seem to be embracing firearm restrictions in an age of mass violence, Politico reports. A poll conducted by Harvard’s political institute found that a clear majority of young conservatives supported mandatory psychological exams for gun purchasers. A separate survey from YouGov concluded that Gen Z and millennial Republicans are more likely to believe in tougher gun laws than older Republicans and that young conservatives’ support for the idea has grown in the past year. The generational disconnect suggests broader GOP opposition to gun restrictions will be a steady irritant inside a party already struggling to appeal to young voters. It could also challenge White House hopefuls and members of Congress to eventually refine their message on guns with Republican primary and general election voters, even if the concerns of young people won’t transform GOP politics overnight.
“There are some concerns from Gen Z voters specifically, mainly because they’ve had to deal with it more growing up — it’s become more rampant in society,” Joacim Hernandez, the elected chairman of the Texas Young Republican Federation, said of gun violence. A partisan divide and age gap on gun restrictions remains deeply embedded in American politics. Concern about mass shootings tends to spike in the aftermath of attention-grabbing attacks before fading. But access to firearms has been a bedrock principle for the GOP for decades, and polls show older Republican primary voters remain some of the strongest firearm supporters in the country. Plus, recent polling from Texas underscores the complexity of the GOP’s internal split. A University of Texas/Texas Politics Project Poll last month found 64 percent of all Texas Republicans supported raising the age limit on gun purchases and the concept of “red flag” laws that require people determined to be a risk to themselves or others to surrender their firearms. Republicans under the age of 45 tended to support those measures at higher rates than older party supporters, Texas Politics Project Director James Henson said after examining the poll’s underlying response data at POLITICO’s request. Yet Texas legislators have considered an array of gun restrictions with little progress.