Are we on the brink of ushering in a slew of new gun control laws? It certainly feels that way, especially if you watch the news and track discussions on social media. More and more, it feels to me as if we’re going to get some degree of gun control whether we want it or not.
But I may also be a bit of a pessimist.
However, a USAToday/Suffolk University Poll suggests that most people disagree with me.
Americans doubt Congress will enact new gun laws despite a spate of mass shootings this summer that rattled the country.
As lawmakers return to Washington, a nationwide USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll found that less than a quarter of Americans think Congress will pass significant gun control legislation over the next year.
That’s despite the fact that the poll also found broad support for further controls over who can get a gun.
“Finally, a poll result that shows unanimity in the United States,” David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston, said of the widespread support for universal background checks across every demographic including geography, gender, age, race and political party affiliation.
“If there ever was a time for lawmakers from both parties to act, it is now.”
The USA TODAY/Suffolk Poll of 1,000 registered voters by landline and cellphone Aug. 20-25 has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
Now, as noted earlier today, 1,000 people isn’t a particularly large sample size. Not for a nation of almost 330 million people, anyway.
The poll’s findings, however, were similar to that previous poll discussed earlier. This despite much clearer questions. That does provide at least some validation for each poll.
But only to a point.
After all, a thousand people aren’t all that many folks, especially if you’re not particularly careful of where you select them from. That can seriously skew your results. For example, if I took these same questions and asked predominantly rural residents of their opinions, I’m going to get very different results than if I stick mostly to area codes from New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles.
That’s not to say this poll did that. In fact, I suspect it didn’t. Also, in the survey, nearly 50 percent of those surveyed claimed to have a firearm in the home. That kind of rules out there being too many from the Big Apple, doesn’t it?
All that being said, what does any of this mean?
Well, for one thing, it suggests that most people are pessimistic about gun control being passed by Congress, despite supporting such measures. In fact, it may even hint at just why that is.
The poll found that many people are willing to vote for a person who disagrees with them on guns but who they otherwise agree with. In fact, over 49 percent said they would. Now, we know that the vehemently pro-gun crowd doesn’t fall into that category. That means of the 35 percent who said they wouldn’t vote for someone who disagrees with them on guns a fair number have to be pro-gun voices. It’s possible that almost all of them are pro-gun, based on the results on specific gun control measures.
Some, if not most, gun control supporters aren’t going to base their choice of candidate exclusively on this one issue. This is nothing new; it’s something we’ve known for a while. You know who else knows this? Politicians. They know that supporting gun control is a losing proposition for them since pro-gun voices are likely to vote against them on that fact alone while anti-gun voters are unlikely to be swayed on the issue.
That provides little incentive to pass gun control. Voters probably know that, too. We’ve been down this road before.
Only time will tell if they’re right, though.