This via NYU political scientist Patrick Egan:
— Patrick J. Egan (@Patrick_J_Egan) December 11, 2015
Note that the last poll was earlier this month, in the wake of the San Bernardino and Colorado Springs shootings.
There’s a problem with the term “assault weapon,” of course. The media loves it because it sounds scary, but the definition of what is and is not an “assault weapon” is malleable depending on which source is using it. Really, any firearm is an assault weapon if you use it to assault somebody.
Even a small .22 rifle, in the right circumstances, could wound or kill a lot of people. Hell, a fork can become an assault weapon if it’s used to stab somebody. The term is useless, except that it traditionally evokes a useful sort of confused response from the American public who are generally for gun ownership but against using them to assault people.
But still, even with the political hype over mass shootings and gun violence, support for something as nebulous as an “assault weapons ban” is at a twenty year low. Not according to the National Rifle Association or some conservative group but the New York Times.
Every time a gun control push stalls the left blames the National Rifle Association and its clout. But maybe the NRA has a lot of clout because most people generally agree with the NRA?
I’m reminded of something Glenn Utter wrote in his book Guns and Contemporary Society. He quotes a letter sent from Jody Powell (press secretary to President Jimmy Carter) to Clinton press secretary George Stephanopoulos highlighting the Democrati approach to crime/gun control as something needing “rethinking.”
Powell says the NRA is effective because most people feel the NRA’s position on gun control is largely right (view in context via Google Books):
I think those words are as true today as they ever were. Even if it were true that gun violence is a growing problem in America – and it really, really isn’t despite the perception the media creates – I think the public has a hard time understanding how creating gun control laws for law-abiding gun owners is going to stop violent criminals who have, among their primary characteristics, a propensity to not follow laws.