Poll shows declining support for "assault weapons" ban, including among Democrats

AP Photo/Michael Conroy

Joe Biden calls for one on a weekly basis. Gun control groups and their media allies constantly tell Americans that they’re the weapon of choice for mass murderers. Democratic politicians declare that they’re “weapons of war” with no suitable purpose for law-abiding Americans (except for law enforcement, for some reason).

And yet, despite the full-court press to demonize modern sporting rifles, Monmouth University says support for an “assault weapons” ban has fallen below 50%, with declines seen across the political spectrum.

Even among Democrats the drop in support is appreciable, and as Monmouth notes, the electorate’s eroding confidence in gun control policies isn’t just confined to the issue of an “assault weapons” ban.

The public is currently divided over a ban on the future sale of assault weapons – 46% support this and 49% are opposed. Last year, a majority (55%) favored such a ban while 42% stood in opposition. The drop in support has come mainly from independents (49% in 2022 to 37% now), but there have also been declines among Republicans (from 32% to 24%) and Democrats (from 82% to 77%).

“Despite continued incidents of mass shootings, public support for banning assault weapons has dipped. It’s not clear why, since support for some other gun measures remains widespread,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

About 8 in 10 Americans (81%) support requiring comprehensive background checks for all gun purchasers, which is similar to overall support levels last year. However, the number who strongly support background checks has declined from 73% in June 2022 to 64%. Moreover, just 28% of the public feels the president should be able to order background checks by executive order, something President Joe Biden did in a limited approach last month. A majority (64%) say such a measure should only be instituted by an act of Congress.

“Support for background checks remains high, but not for the way President Biden tried to go about,” said Murray.

I don’t put a lot of stock in any particular poll, even when the numbers look good for our side, but this isn’t the first survey in recent months to find a majority of respondents rejecting a gun ban. Back in February ABC News found that 51% of those surveyed opposed an “assault weapons” ban, with 47% in favor.

So, assuming these polls are accurately reflecting a changing electorate less inclined to back a ban on scary black rifles (and any other firearm arbitrarily defined as an “assault weapon”), what’s going on?

The Monmouth poll suggests that more Americans are growing increasingly skeptical of the claims of gun control activists. 34% of respondents, for instance, agreed that “The right to bear arms is an absolute right and should not be limited”; up four points from June of last year. Support for “universal” background checks remains high, but the 64% who “strongly support” such a policy is the lowest recorded by Monmouth in at least four years, and a decline of nine points since last June. Strong support for a federal “red flag” law has declined by the same amount, though the number of those who say they’re somewhat supportive of the idea has increased from 17% to 23%.

The poll also shows just how out-of-step some Democrats are with their fellow Americans on Second Amendment issues. The Monmouth survey found 27% of Democrat respondents agreed that “it would be better for the country if we did away with the right to bear arms entirely”; a view shared by just 10% of independents and absolutely no Republicans.

Even among Democrats’ traditional base of support like younger voters and racial minorities there are far more Second Amendment absolutists than outright prohibitionists. 24% of 18-to-34-year-olds, for instance, say the right to bear arms is “absolute” and should not be limited, compared to 14% who say the right to bear arms should disappear.

Younger voters also reject an “assault weapons” ban, despite the outreach efforts on the part of anti-gun organizations and a media narrative that younger voters are going to force politicians to part ways with Second Amendment supporters. According to the Monmouth survey, its actually older voters who most strongly support a gun ban.

And even then support tops out at 52%, hardly evidence that an overwhelming number of Americans are clamoring for Congress to enact a ban.

Anti-gunners are loud and their message is amplified on a daily basis by the national media, but it looks like more of us are increasingly tuning out their strident calls to criminalize the sale and possession of the most popular rifles in the country. Second Amendment advocates still have our work cut out for us when it comes to educating the general public about the fundamental flaws with things like “red flag” laws and “universal” background checks, but they seem to be getting the message when it comes to banning guns outright.