A couple of months ago I was looking at the Facebook pages of the best known pro and anti 2nd amendment groups and wondered how their growth trends compare. This is a meaningful measure, because FB is so ubiquitous that it can meaningfully reflect culture in general. And while it’s immediately apparent the NRA owns a 10:1 “like” advantage over the largest anti group, Bloomberg’s “Every Town”( and considerably more over the rest, which are not really worthy of mention — only Moms Demand Action is over 100k), are the anti groups really gaining popular momentum? As the Bloomberg financed “Moms” (the under 100k group) would have us believe? Not finding any public resources with the answer I did my own study, and the short answer is “No.” The longer answer is “Hell No.”
And to sum up:
1. Anti 2nd amendment FB groups are much smaller than pro 2nd amendment groups (like 10x)
2. Anti 2nd amdment FB groups are growing much slower than pro 2nd amendment groups (like 4x)
3. Anti 2nd amendment FB groups have an older following than pro 2nd amendment groups (like 25-44 for the NRA and 55+ for Bloomberg’s Everytown)
My data collection ended when FB changed how they report on groups and “likes” a couple days ago, but the new stats they provided proved to be very interesting. As you can tell by looking at the info below for the NRA, The Brady Campaign, and Bloomberg’s “Everytown Against Gun Violence” (formerly Demand Action):
So besides being 10:1 larger than the heavily promoted Bloomberg group the NRA has a younger following (25-44) while the Bloomberg group is identified by AARP members (55+). The Brady Campaign also has an older demographic (35-54).
So the NRA, often described as a dying group of all old white males, has by far the youngest following. And this (admittedly pre-Newtown, though I don’t think anything has changed) survey shows that a majority of High School and College Age kids intend to own guns, EVEN if they came from a non-gun owning family.
I’m not surprised by any of the above. While I can only observe the people around me, this matches up with what I see. The majority of the 20 somethings I know personally are the sons/daughters of friends, and while many grew up in non-gun households most of them own guns (in one case to the serious chagrin of their parents, who though my close friends are anti-gun liberals). More young women I know also embrace guns for self defense, including the two daughters of the aforementioned anti-gunner friends (and both are looking to get their CCW license soon).
Here are a few more graphs I created from my data collection (data collection period 3/30/14 – 5/30/14).
This first one shows the members added per hour over the ~24 hour periods I collected. As you can see NRA has a better trend line than Bloomberg’s Everytown and about a 4:1 advantage in adds per hour. You might think this could be a function of size of the group, but there doesn’t seem to be a correlation there; there are only so many people who want to join each group, and while both are growing slower now than they did initially Bloomberg’s group has hit a harder/lower plateau then the NRA:
This Graph shows the average members added per hour over the entire 2 month course of study. I also tracked Gun Owners of America and the National Association for Gun rights (which is actually the largest pro-2nd amendment group, though not with the same growth numbers as the NRA, which will probably soon overtake it):
This graph shows the growth of the groups I followed (not all groups were collected for the entire period). I didn’t decide to start tracking NAGR until well underway, so I don’t have numbers for them for the entire period. As you can see the largest group is the NAGR, the fastest growing is the NRA. The smallest and slowest growing is EGS:
Below are the total “likes” of each group as of 5/30/14. NAGR is the largest, NRA is almost as large and consistently growing at a faster rate:
So to sum up … on average the NRA grows at about 4x the rate of EGS and all of the pro-2nd amendment groups grow faster than EGS (no other anti-gun group I found can even compare). And not only that, but the only thing that really seems to affect Bloomberg’s group is his promotion of it, as even major events have little affect. The major events played upon by the anti-2nd amendment groups in this period included (and if you check the dates you’ll no real impact):
4/2/14 — Fort Hood Shooting
4/13/14 — KS Synagogue Shooting
4/16/14 — Blooomberg Announced “Everytown to Prevent Gun Violence” (EGS)
4/26/14 — Opening of NRA annual meeting and Bloomberg Mom’s protest
5/20/14 — Chipotle victory for Bloomberg Mom’s (reaction to Texas open carry event)
5/24/14 — Santa Barbara Shooting
None of those had a significant effect. The biggest effect was when Bloomberg changed the group from Demand Action to Every Town, with the “adds” plummeting and one day even having a negative growth (more left than added).
Some notes on my collection:
I collected at varying intervals, but I used all automated time calculations and formulas so everything evens out in the end. I did change time zones a couple of times during the study, but this equally affected all parties and evens out in the end because I began and ended my collection in Denver (MST). If I’d planned ahead I would have been more consistent, but I did this just to satisfy my own curiosity and didn’t consider sharing it until near the end. My collection consisted of:
1. Using MS Excel to create dates for each entry (Excel dates are based on hours).
2. Immediately cutting and pasting “like” numbers from FB pages.
3. Using MS Excel formulas to generate all data based on the Excel date.
I will be glad to send the .csv file of my collection anyone interested via email. Just let me know.