On the surface, there might not be much of a link between Joe Biden’s catastrophic ineptitude with the pullout of troops from Afghanistan and the president’s desire to ban tens of millions of commonly owned firearms (besides the sight of Taliban troops going door-to-door taking guns from civilians), but on today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co we’re delving into some recent polling numbers for Biden’s Afghanistan policy and why those figures should be sounding alarm bells in the White House about the administration’s gun ban plans.
According to two new polls, public support for Biden’s pullout is cratering, with even a plurality of Democrats now saying it’s a mistake to leave Afghanistan if it leads to a Taliban takeover or a safe haven for Al-Qaeda. As HotAir’s Allahpundit succinctly puts it:
Biden may be a victim of his own bullsh*t. He and Tony Blinken assured the public that Afghanistan was at no risk of imminent collapse. Americans may have believed him. Combine that with their general inattention to foreign affairs and the public may have imagined that the country would stand on its own, at least for awhile, after we had left.
Or maybe they’re just fickle and myopic. They liked the idea of withdrawal when they didn’t have to think about the inevitable consequences, and now that they do have to think about them they don’t like it anymore. Oops.
Either way, we may need to revisit the assumption based on months of polling that Americans strongly support withdrawal. Once you remind them that that comes with a price, the numbers change.
We see the same phenomenon when it comes to public polling on gun control. How many polls have you seen showing 80 or 90% approval for something like universal background checks? According to gun control activists, you’d be hard-pressed to find an American who wasn’t on board with the idea, and yet when universal background checks were put before voters in Nevada and Maine five years ago, they didn’t garner anywhere close to 80% of the vote.
In fact, in Nevada the background check measure passed with just 50.4% of the vote. In Maine the background check referendum did even worse, garnering approval of just 48% of voters. These were supposed to be slam dunks for the gun control lobby, yet they came within 10,000 votes of losing in both states. What happened?
Voters started paying attention. They started thinking about how these would-be laws would be enforced, and many of them realized that while commercial sales of firearms already require background checks, the proposed laws could turn family and friends into criminals for simply loaning or selling a gun to a neighbor without first putting them through a background check. They wondered how these laws could actually prevent a criminal from illegally obtaining a firearm, and gun control activists didn’t have a good answer. And suddenly, a measure that was supposedly incredibly popular turned out to be incredibly divisive instead.
We’re likely to see the same thing if and when Biden moves forward with some of his gun ban plans. It’s one thing for non-gun owners to think that big scary rifles like the AR-15 should be banned, but how many of them have considered what enforcement of that ban would actually entail? I’ve yet to see a poll on banning “assault weapons” that discusses how such a law would be enforced or what the criminal penalty would be, but it stands to reason that the more the public learns about the implementation of Biden’s gun ban, the less popular it will become.
And frankly, support for Biden’s gun ban doesn’t poll nearly as well as universal background checks. According to an April poll by Pew Research, 81% of respondents backed a universal background check law, but support for a ban on so-called assault weapons was far lower at 63%. My guess is that most of those respondents have no idea about the gritty details of Biden’s gun ban proposal, which include making it a federal felony offense punishable by ten years in prison for simply maintaining possession of a gun that was legally purchased (unless it was first registered with the government under the National Firearms Act). If they did learn those details, my suspicion is that there would be far fewer Americans in favor of criminalizing the most commonly sold rifle in the United States.
As long as Biden’s gun control agenda is largely dormant, Americans won’t pay much attention to the devil in the details. With the administration set to impose new restrictions on home-built firearms and pistols with stabilizing braces via executive action, however, Joe Biden seems intent on forging ahead with his gun ban plans, and he’s already shown us that he’s fine with putting rules in place that even when his own advisors warn him that his efforts are likely unconstitutional.
Most politicians would realize that now’s probably not a great time to attempt a gun ban via executive action, but I don’t think Biden’s going to learn that lesson. Not only is he as committed to his gun control agenda as he is pulling out of Afghanistan, but with a growing number of Democrats now criticizing the president for the crisis in Kabul, Biden is likely to look for allies wherever he can find them, and the gun control lobby has so far been willing to stand by his side for the most part (despite some grumbling from a few activists over the White House’s efforts to confirm David Chipman as ATF director). I think it would be a political miscalculation as well as an affront to the Constitution for Biden to lean in to his gun control agenda, but as we’ve seen during his short time in office, if there’s one thing that Biden’s good at, it’s making the wrong decision.