CBS News released the results of a new poll on the topic of guns. There are some interesting tidbits in there for discussion, but there’s also a lot that shouldn’t be overly surprising.
On the anniversary of the Sandy Hook mass shooting, divisions over guns in America run deeper than policy differences.
To most gun owners, guns are “part of what makes America great” (53 percent). They also say guns make America “free” (61 percent) “strong” (55 percent) and safe (59 percent).
This is hardly surprising. If anything, I’m more surprised that these numbers are that low. But yes, most gun owners do believe guns are a key part of what makes America what it is.
It’s also hardly surprising to see that the other side holds very different opinions.
For many non-gun owners, guns make America “dangerous” (55 percent) and “scary” (38 percent) and represent “one of the country’s biggest problems.”
Again, not shocking. These are all wrong, of course, but we kind of already knew much of this about non-gun owners. After all, they only know what they’ve been told, and they’ve been told repeatedly that guns make America dangerous. We can’t be overly surprised that they bought it.
Next, however, we get into something that needs some significant discussion.
Both sides say they’re frustrated over the current state of the gun debate, and gun-rights supporters and gun control advocates mistrust each others’ motives. Suspicions abound: Most gun owners suspect that gun-control groups are trying to give government more control over people and think gun control groups are trying to take away all guns. Non-gun owners think gun rights supporters are trying to arm themselves for a larger conflict.
Non-gun owners do not see gun control advocacy this way. Most of them believe gun control advocates are trying to promote public safety (62 percent) and fewer than half (38 percent) say the push for more gun control is trying to take away traditions or a way of life.
Now, I get where the non-gun owners get this. I’m as guilty of contributing to this as anyone. After all, we often talk about our firearms serving as a bulwark against tyranny. It’s not difficult for someone to imagine we’re arming up for a fight.
However, I’m also going to defend our side here a bit. There’s a very legitimate reason why we think gun control groups and politicians are trying to take away all guns. It’s because we have more than enough quotes by anti-gun voices calling for just that.
Science fiction author David Burkhead, a friend of mine, has been adding quotes from anti-gun people for several years into one post on his blog. We’re simply taking them at their word.
But why do non-gun owners not see it this way?
For one thing, anti-gun quotes make a whole lot more press among the pro-Second Amendment media than they do with the mainstream variety most people consume. They’re simply not exposed to the idea that these politicians have explicitly stated they want to disarm each and every one of us, so they assume we’re overstating the issue.