AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File
Are the days numbered for the venerable AR-15?
While Democrats have long vilified the firearm as a major problem in the United States, Republicans have stood up for the Second Amendment. It’s why we haven’t had new gun control legislation passed at the federal level since 1994.
Even President Trump acknowledges that there’s little “political appetite” for gun control.
Yet new poll results seem to suggest otherwise.
Most Republicans would support legislation banning assault-style weapons, a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll found Wednesday — a finding that contradicts President Donald Trump’s claim earlier the same day that there’s “no political appetite” for such restrictions.
The poll found that nearly 70 percent of all voters would back such a ban. Support for an assault-weapons ban was higher, at 86 percent, among Democrats, who have been pushing for new restrictions on the firearms in the wake of two mass shootings over the weekend.
Republicans typically are more reticent to support new gun restrictions, and Trump campaigned in 2016 on his strong support for the Second Amendment. But the poll found that 55 percent of GOP voters were comfortable with banning assault weapons, and 54 percent said they would support stricter gun laws more generally. Ninety percent said they would back universal background checks for gun sales.
Only 23 percent of all voters oppose an assault weapons ban, the poll found.
This is bad news, but it may not be as bad as is suggested.
Timing matters. In the immediate aftermath of a mass shooting, people are looking for answers. They’re stunned and shocked and desperately wondering what can be done. They’re emotional and being bombarded with the media’s anti-gun push, and they get swayed. Temporarily.
And when was this poll done?
The poll was conducted Aug. 5-7, in the immediate aftermath of two mass shootings. A lone gunman opened fire Saturday at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, killing 22 people. Then, early Sunday morning, another gunman murdered nine people in Dayton, Ohio.
How much support for a so-called “assault weapon ban” will we see in a month among Republicans?
Further, let’s also remember how inaccurate polls have been as of late. Not only did polling suggest Brexit would lose in the UK, but it also noted that Hillary Clinton was a shoo-in for the presidency. Tell me, how is President Clinton’s time in the White House doing?
There are a lot of reasons why polls may be inaccurate, but even if they’re right, don’t expect these numbers to hold indefinitely, especially since the truth is that most people who support anti-Second Amendment legislation aren’t driven by that position. It’s rarely a litmus test for voters, whereas support for the Second Amendment can be. As such, even Republicans who may back gun control aren’t likely to back gun control candidates in 2020. The same is true of more moderate voters who are more likely to select candidates based on things like economics and foreign policy.
Right now, this doesn’t look good for gun rights, but the question is whether or not those numbers hold. It’s up to us to make damn sure they don’t.