President Joe Biden may not be jumping all over gun control, even in the wake of two mass shootings, but it’s not because he’s doubtful of gun control. He’s been a longtime supporter of trampling our Second Amendment rights, after all, and there’s no reason to think he suddenly had a change of heart. Especially with gun control groups breathing down his neck to “do something.”
However, folks on this side of the debate often point out that the proposals being suggested simply won’t accomplish anything.
Gun control fans are, uh, less than convinced of this fact. They simply won’t believe anything we say.
Americans are broadly in favor of regulations on assault weapons and background checks for gun purchases, a new poll from Data for Progress and Vox finds. However, these measures are likely to only have a moderate impact on the country’sskyhigh rates of gun violence.
The poll, conducted March 19-21 (after the shootings in Atlanta but before the shooting in Boulder, Colorado), surveyed 1291 likely voters and has a 3 percentage point sampling margin of error. A third of respondents said they have a gun in the home. (Other surveys not restricted to likely voters have shown gun ownership rates of around 40 percent, indicating this sample may have fewer gun owners than is representative or that the average voter is less likely to own guns than the average American.)
The poll finds both of these policies are widely popular. When asked if they would support “a bill that would require a background check for all gun purchases,” 65 percent of respondents said yes, with just 27 percent opposed — including 48 percent of Republicans and 58 percent of independents.
When asked about “banning the manufacture, possession, and sale of semi-automatic guns, known as assault rifles,” 61 percent were in favor — including 45 percent of Republicans and 53 percent of independents. These findings are consistent with other surveys showing majority support for these measures.
Universal background checks don’t directly influence the number of guns owned by Americans. As Lopez explained, they “can screen out some people from getting a gun … recent studies suggest even universal background checks, on their own, don’t have a big impact on gun deaths.” Another policy in the DFP/Vox poll drawing support is the creation of a database to track gun sales. While these efforts could help investigators and make it harder for certain people to access guns, neither of them get at the root of the problem.
An assault weapons ban would be a bigger first step.
Banning the manufacture, ownership, and sale of these types of guns does reduce the number of guns in circulation by definition. Lopez reports that an assault weapons ban could reduce the deadliness of some mass shootings “but wouldn’t address the 70-plus percent of firearm homicides that involve a handgun.”
Of course, Vox doesn’t exactly hold to this, going down a rabbit-hole of other proposals without actually delving into whether any of those would actually work (spoiler: they won’t), but it’s interesting that one of the most left-leaning publications is admitting that many of these policies wouldn’t work as advertised.
Further, I’m unconvinced that such a ban would reduce the deadliness of mass shootings. While a study suggested just that, the methodology was suspect as hell, as I noted back in 2019.
Lopez, however, is correct that even if such were true, it would do nothing to impact the majority of violent crime when does involve a handgun. Especially since magazine capacity is rarely a factor in these shootings, despite most of those firearms being semi-automatic pistols. Of course, for some, that would be grounds to ban pistols, but since the Heller decision expressly addressed handgun bans, I don’t think that’s really feasible.
To be clear, Vox wasn’t supporting a pro-gun position. They were simply taking a dump on the plans currently in place because they want more restrictive measures to be passed instead.
Frankly, I don’t care what the polls say. We don’t leave our civil liberties up to the mob to determine for a damn good reason.
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