The Left Is Losing The Argument On Assault Weapons And Gun Control

assault weapons

If you had no other evidence available to you other than smug social media postings from your progressive friends, or aggressive proclamations from left-wing pundits, you would think that the left was winning the gun control debate.

A spate of mass shootings has certainly provided them with a convenient environment in which to make those arguments. We have a President in Barack Obama who is not at all shy about making gun control demands, and a media/entertainment industry that is very much anti-gun.

Except, the left is not winning the gun debate. Last week a New York Times poll showed that, for the first time in 20 years, a majority of Americans are against an assault weapons ban.

Today Washington Post poll shows, well, pretty much the same thing. Not only that, but a slim plurality also believe that more people bearing arms is a better response to terrorism than gun control:

A majority of Americans oppose banning assault weapons for the first time in more than 20 years of ABC News/Washington Post polls, with the public expressing vast doubt that the authorities can prevent “lone wolf” terrorist attacks and a substantial sense that armed citizens can help.

Just 45 percent in this national survey favor an assault weapons ban, down 11 percentage points from an ABC/Post poll in 2013 and down from a peak of 80 percent in 1994. Fifty-three percent oppose such a ban, the most on record.

Indeed, while the division is a close one, Americans by 47-42 percent think that encouraging more people to carry guns legally is a better response to terrorism than enacting stricter gun control laws.

Here’s the trend on the assault weapons ban:


I actually think the trend here has more to do with the public grasping the problems with the term “assault weapons” than anything else. I think Americans are about as pro-gun today as they’ve ever been, but thanks to the rise of the internet and alternative media are less prone to being scared away from that position by the “assault weapons” term.

Because that term, at least how the media uses it, is bunk. 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.

What is remarkable, however, is how Americans have staunchly stuck to their guns despite a media and political barrage of anti-gun rhetoric. Sometimes in political debate we talk about the media as having these Svengali-like powers to influence the public.

Maybe there isn’t as much influence there as we think. I do believe that if the gun control advocates could convincingly tie elevated levels of violence to gun ownership they could get some traction. But the fundamental problem is that most people side with the NRA’s position which is that the only people who abide by gun control laws are law-abiding people who generally don’t commit crimes with their guns.