Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Public Opinion Running Against Gun Control

It wasn’t widely reported, but ABC News recently conducted a poll of citizens, and for the first time in the history of major polls, a majority of respondents opposed an assault weapons ban.

This does not seem to be a fluke. Where long time-series of opinion data exist, the trend seems to be moving in the direction of protecting gun rights.

For example, since the 1960s, Gallup has been asking people whether the private ownership of handguns should be forbidden. The trend, which has the normal number of temporary ups and downs, has been from a robust majority who would support that proposition, to a robust majority who oppose it.

Since 1990, Gallup has been asking respondents whether the nation’s gun control laws on the sale of firearms should be “more strict,” “less strict” or should “kept as they are now.” The trend is downward, although again with some ups and downs depending on what gun violence is in the news.

A large collection of polls on the issue is found here.

Liberals who think that public opinion is on their side are simply kidding themselves. Although some polls show majorities in favor of this or that policy, the long term trend is in favor of the Second Amendment.

Further, demonizing the National Rifle Association is not a winning strategy in a general election (although it may mobilize core partisans in a primary). Gallup has found that a majority of respondents have a favorable view of the NRA.

And this leaves out of account the asymmetry of intensity: the fact that people who favor gun rights are more intense in their opinions than those who oppose them.

The push for gun control, fundamentally, reflects the cultural bias of the latte sipping, Prius driving, NPR listening liberals. It gives them a warm rush of self-righteousness. But increasingly, they are at odds with the broad public.

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Blogger jimspice said...

Universal background checks are favored by a HUGE majority of U.S. citizens -- upper 80s to lower 90s depending on which poll you look at -- as is preventing mentally unstable people and those on the terror watch list from getting guns. It is only the NRA which is preventing these measures from being implemented.

8:29 AM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

Universal background checks are favored by a HUGE majority of U.S. citizens --

But I don't know of any polling data showing that checks for gun transfers (even gifts) between private individuals is something the majority of the public would favor. I'm not aware that it has been asked. The idea that gun dealers should have to do background checks is favored, and indeed it's the law.

And you haven't disputed that for several policies that liberals favor, the trend is pro-Second Amendment.

1:50 PM  

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