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Gun Ownership Upper Midwestern Snapshot

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The mass murders at Virginia Tech University this week have inspired those in gun control circles to renew their pressure on politicians to reexamine our nation's gun laws; it has also caused 2nd Amendment strict constructionists to dig in deeper to fight against such changes.

In their coverage of the Virginia Tech story, the media has frequently portrayed Virginia's gun laws as too lax. Some may be surprised to learn, then, that gun ownership is equal to or higher across the Upper Midwest than in the Commonwealth of Virginia. A March 2007 SurveyUSA poll found 46 percent of Virginians own guns, compared to 50 percent of Wisconsinites, 50 percent of Minnesotans, and 46 percent of Iowans. The most recent poll of South Dakotans found 61 percent owned guns (SurveyUSA, November 2006). The surveys do not distinguish between types of firearms, and, to be sure, a substantial portion of Upper Midwesterners who own guns only own hunting rifles, not handguns.

In 2003 the Wisconsin Legislature considered legislation permitting concealed weapons, though the majority of Wisconsinites opposed the right of its residents to carry on both their own property (56 percent) and in public (60 percent) (WPR / St. Norbert College, November 2003).

When concealed weapon laws came to the forefront in the Minnesota legislature in 2003, less than one quarter of Minnesotans (22 percent) stated they would consider applying for a permit to carry a handgun (Minnesota Poll, April 2003).

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Political Crumbs

No 100-Year Curse for Roberts

Defeating his Tea Party primary challenger Milton Wolf with just 48.1 percent of the vote, Pat Roberts narrowly escaped becoming the first elected U.S. Senator from Kansas to lose a renomination bid in 100 years. The last - and so far only - elected U.S. Senator to lose a Kansas primary was one-term Republican Joseph Bristow in 1914. Bristow was defeated by former U.S. Senator Charles Curtis who went on to win three terms before becoming Herbert Hoover's running mate in 1928. Only one other U.S. Senator from the Sunflower State has lost a primary since the passage of the 17th Amendment: Sheila Frahm in 1996. Frahm was appointed to fill Bob Dole's seat earlier that year and finished 13.2 points behind Sam Brownback in the three-candidate primary field. Overall, incumbent senators from Kansas have won 29 times against two defeats in the direct vote era. (Curtis also lost a primary in 1912 to Walter Stubbs, one year before the nation moved to direct elections).


The Second Time Around

Former Republican Congressman Bob Beauprez became the seventh major party or second place gubernatorial candidate in Colorado to get a second chance at the office when he narrowly won his party's nomination last month. Two of the previous six candidates were successful. Democrat Alva Adams lost his first gubernatorial bid to Benjamin Eaton in 1884, but was victorious two years later against William Meyer. Democrat Charles Johnson placed third in 1894 behind Republican Albert McIntyre and Populist incumbent Governor David Waite but returned as the Fusion (Democrat/Populist) nominee in 1898 and defeated GOPer Henry Wolcott. Gubernatorial candidates who received a second chance but lost both general elections include Democrat Thomas Patterson (1888, 1914), Progressive Edward Costigan (1912, 1914), Republican Donald Brotzman (1954, 1956), and Republican David Strickland (1978, 1986).


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