New Poll Shows Californians Souring On Gun Control

AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu

California has the most restrictive gun control laws in the country, but those laws don’t matter much for criminals. The state is in the midst of a surge in violent crime, and news stories regularly feature criminals who were prohibited by law from possessing a firearm yet managed to do so despite the state’s universal background check law, ten-day waiting period, and even a program that’s designed to specifically take guns from known prohibited persons.

According to a new Los Angeles Times/UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll, the current crime wave appears to be having an impact on Californians’ views on gun control, as support for the state’s gun laws is slipping.

The poll released Thursday found that 56% of the state’s voters surveyed believe stronger laws restricting the sale and possession of guns help make their communities safer, but the number is down from 60% who felt that way three years ago.

The poll also found that 57% of California voters say it is more important to place greater controls on gun ownership than it is to protect Americans’ rights to own guns under the 2nd Amendment, but that number is down from 64% who felt that way in 2018.

The decline in confidence in gun laws is a response to what people are seeing in their communities, said Mark DiCamillo, director of the Berkeley IGS Poll.

“I think it’s due in large measure to the increase in crime, especially violent crime,” DiCamillo said. “But still, this is a very Democratic and very liberal constituency and gun control laws have traditionally been quite popular among those voters not only here in California but nationwide.”

Yes, there’s still majority support for gun control in California, but a nearly 10-point drop in the number of Californians who say it’s more important to put additional gun controls in place than it is to protect the Second Amendment is significant. Of course, gun control activists would prefer that we not think about that too much.

“This poll clearly shows that Californians like myself see the recent ruling striking down California’s law prohibiting assault weapons for what it is: dangerous, an outlier in judicial precedent, and one that we believe will be overturned,” [Shannon] Watts said in a statement.

Asked about the slip in voter confidence in gun laws, Watts said the majority support “makes sense because study after study shows that gun safety laws save lives.”

Watts’ response is a complete non-sequitur; an empty talking point in place of an actual answer to the question. Yes, a majority of Californians still support more gun control laws, but that number is declining. And as it turns out, when you drill down a little deeper, it turns out that a good deal of that support is half-hearted.

The online survey, which was completed last week, found that 24% of those who responded feel the stronger laws restricting the sale and possession of guns would be “very effective” at reducing crime and 32% see them as “somewhat effective.”

The poll used a random sample of 5,785 registered voters throughout California.

Even in California only a quarter of respondents agree with Shannon Watts that gun control is very effective at reducing violent crime. No wonder she’d prefer to stick to the topline number, which looks a lot better for anti-gun activists and the gun control lobby.

To be fair, I don’t think Watts has to worry about California becoming a Second Amendment Sanctuary anytime soon. Democrats still possess a supermajority in the state legislature, and even if Gov. Gavin Newsom is recalled later this year and replaced by a Republican, his replacement can block the implementation of new gun control laws but could do little about the laws already in place.

Still, the poll should be encouraging for Second Amendment supporters in California who are in the fight for the long haul. More residents seem to be waking up to the fact that the state’s infringements on the right to keep and bear arms aren’t working out like the gun control lobby said they would, and if cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Oakland can’t get crime under control, I suspect that trend will only accelerate.