Immediately after Parkland, support for gun control was huge. It seemed like everyone wanted new gun control measures to be put in place. Oh, maybe not your average Bearing Arms reader, mind you, but in the population as a whole? It was big.
Many of us knew that all we needed to do was hold on for a while. It always seemed that historically, gun control rhetoric gained support initially after some kind of attack, then dropped back down after a time. People apparently jumped on the gun control bandwagon based on emotion, but then soon jump back off because they realize they were being dumb.
At least, that’s what it sure looked like. It seems that Gallup agrees.
Americans’ support for tougher gun laws hit a 25-year high in March. In the wake of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in a March Gallup poll, 67% of Americans indicated their support for tougher restrictions on guns. This was the highest level of support for more stringent gun laws in the U.S. since 1993. Americans’ support for tougher gun laws has generally trended up since the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, and has now returned to levels last seen prior to 2000.
In other words, people aren’t jumping up and down for gun control anymore.
It’s not really surprising, though, when you think about it. After something horrible, people are looking for answers, for something that will make damn sure nothing like this happens again. I get it. This is a reaction that I think is probably pretty normal. Even ardent Second Amendment supporters can start to rethink their positions for a brief time.
But in the end, there’s the reality that the problem wasn’t the tool used in the shooting, but the tool using it in the first place. Vehicle attacks like the one recently in Toronto illustrate just how the problem rests in the people, not the weapon (it should be noted that the Toronto van attack had more casualties than the Santa Fe High School shooting).
People settle down, let things simmer, then realize that guns aren’t really the problem, so their minds change on gun control.
That means there’s a brief window for lawmakers to push through anti-gun bills through legislatures with anything approaching public support. That’s what happened down in Florida, when they passed a law making it illegal to sell a firearm of any kind to anyone under 21, not just the handguns as the law previously stipulated.
Unfortunately, though, lawmakers have a problem. They may pass those laws with public support, but by the time re-election comes around, that same public isn’t in favor of those laws. That previous support won’t necessarily protect them from the angry mob known as the electorate, especially when pro-gun activists are very good at mobilizing to oust traitorous politicians who betray their trust. Having the support of the public in one instance doesn’t insulate you later.
What lawmakers need to understand is what we’re seeing from Gallup. Just weather the storm and it will end. Despite the media push after Parkland, it too has failed to create real, lasting support for anti-gun extremism. That’s a very good thing.