Post any mass shooting, you expect to see support for gun control go up. People don’t think after such an event so much as react. They see the stories of young children killed and their emotions overwhelm them.
The latest bit of evidence for this comes to us via a Fox News poll:
After a series of recent mass shootings, the latest Fox News national survey shows bipartisan support for a range of gun reform laws, especially background checks on all gun buyers.
In general, a 56% majority believes that having tougher gun laws would reduce mass shootings in the United States, while 39% do not.
On specific gun proposals, voters are most supportive of requiring background checks on all gun buyers (88%) and improving enforcement of existing gun laws (84%).
Another 8 in 10 favor raising the legal age to buy assault weapons to 21 (82%), passing “red flag” laws that allow police to take guns from people shown to be a danger (81%), background checks on buying ammunition (80%), mental health checks (78%), and raising the legal age to buy any gun to 21 (78%).
And, of course, this is Fox News versus CNN or something.
These numbers are troubling, to say the least.
However, I will note my standard complaint with polls asking about background checks, namely that unless they specify explicitly they mean on all gun sales, many may believe they’re simply asking if we should hold onto the status quo.
Yet the rest of this is a tad troubling, especially when you look at the partisan breakdown.
Majorities of Democrats and Republicans agree on each of the policies tested, with at least three-quarters in agreement on the top items like background checks, “red flag” laws, enforcing existing gun laws, mental health checks, and raising the legal age to 21. Partisans disagree on banning assault weapons (84% of Democrats favor vs. 44% of Republicans), more citizens carrying guns (30% vs. 60%), and allowing teachers to have guns (29% vs. 67%).
I’m concerned that as many as 44 percent of self-described Republicans want to ban so-called assault weapons.
Of course, we should also keep in mind that people will lie to pollsters in hopes of skewing results. The question is whether there are enough doing that to make a difference or not.
I think it best to assume there isn’t.
Yet even the things that have bipartisan support include many that gun rights supporters are typically less than comfortable with, including “mental health checks,” raising the legal age to 21, and red flag laws.
The big question is, how much of this is a temporary thing and how many will hold to this after the emotions die down? That’s a question we’re unlikely to see answered in the near term. We won’t know until it either dies down or it doesn’t, in which case it’s too late to do anything.
In this regard, we should probably be thankful that all we’re looking at being saddled with is the current Senate deal, which has major problems, to say the least, but it’s a far cry better than what it looks like a large majority of the people are supporting in the here and now.