Thirty-nine percent of Gen Z and millennial Republicans support stricter gun regulation, according to YouGov. This may not sound like a lot, but it’s 17% more than the 22% of older Republicans who support more gun control. Republicans like to act as if these young voters do not matter, but their turnout and strength are growing.
In the Madison ward that contains two large University of Wisconsin dorms, college students and young voters had an eight times increase from 2019 in voter retention from the general to the spring election, according to NextGen America. At one polling location used by many UW freshmen, over 500 votes were cast, compared to 44 in 2019.
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Beyond the young vote, Republicans across the board now support basic gun control policy. According to the Marquette University Law School Poll, 72% of Republicans in Wisconsin support universal background checks and 74% support Extreme Risk Protection Orders, also known as red-flag laws.
Despite this shift in demographics and sentiments around gun control policy, Republican officials and leaders have remained entrenched in their old views. Aidan Johnston, the federal affairs director for the conservative lobbyist group Gun Owners of America, is one of these people.
“I don’t believe that pivoting and compromising with the Second Amendment is ever a path to victory or something that a politician should do,” Johnston said in an interview with The Hill. “They all take an oath to uphold the Constitution … So I think that that is the only way that our government should treat the Second Amendment.”
This is just one example of Republican leaders’ inability to change their views and represent the actual needs of their constituents.
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With this apparent need to adjust political stances on gun policy, the GOP has instead developed a different strategy to win their elections — suppress the vote.
Cleta Mitchell is a conservative lawyer and leader of Trump’s campaign to overturn the 2020 election results. At the Republican National Committee, she told conservative leaders that they should aim to limit voting on university campuses and increase regulations for mail-in ballots and voter registration, according to The Cap Times.
These college students and young voters who turned out the vote are part of the reason Republicans performed poorly in the April 4 general election, and the Republican response to these voices is not to listen and change, but to suppress them.
Voter suppression goes against the freedom Americans — and ironically, Republicans — covet, and should not be allowed.
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The answer for Republicans is simple, and it’s not voter suppression. Old Republican officials need to listen to their youth and adapt to the changing political landscape. Republicans need to leave organizations like the NRA and Gun Owners of America behind and instead enact sensible gun policies that their constituents are calling for.
If these changes are not made, the GOP may lose huge blocks of the vote. With 71% of Americans wanting stricter gun control, there is only one option for the Republicans — adapt or lose.
Charles Zumbrunnen ([email protected]) is a freshman studying agricultural and applied economics.