I won’t pretend to know a lot of folks who live in Kansas, but I’ve known my fair share. To a one, they all tend to be pretty pro-gun.
Now, that’s not a representative sample, to be sure, but I’m not a pollster either. I’m not obligated to hunt down a broad section of the public to get their take on things.
Of course, pollsters drop the ball a lot. They don’t really get into the nitty gritty of why people answer the way they do. They just take the answer, record it, and move on.
Then, we get op-eds from people like this:
Kansas has some of the most permissive gun laws in the country, and last week, the House began debate on a bill that, if passed, would put a constitutional amendment on the ballot to further enshrine gun rights in the state Constitution.
The proposed amendment would change the language of Section 4 of the Kansas Bill of Rights to include possession and use of ammunition, firearm accessories and firearm components as constitutionally protected rights.
A vast majority of Kansans support restrictions beyond the state’s current regulations.
In fall 2022, the Docking Institute of Public Affairs at Fort Hays State University asked Kansans about 10 gun regulation policies in its annual Kansas Speaks public opinion survey.
More than 70% of those surveyed favored six of the 10 policies: requiring universal background checks, requiring a person to be 21 or older, mandatory three-day waiting period, preventing sales to people who have been reported as dangerous by mental health providers, preventing sales to people who have been convicted of violent misdemeanors and allowing family members to ask the court to temporarily remove guns from people at risk of harming themselves or others.
Of those surveyed, 64% favored authorizing law enforcement officers to temporarily remove guns from individuals who pose an immediate threat of harm to self or others.
And more than 50% of those surveyed favored banning assault-style weapons, banning high-capacity ammunition clips and having teachers with appropriate training carry guns at school.
Ah, yes, the appeal to popular opinion.
First, let’s understand that regardless of what Kansas adopts under the state’s constitution, the reality is that the Second Amendment reigns supreme in all matters relating to the restriction of arms. With the Bruen decision, that means all gun control laws must have some parallel in historic laws from certain points in our nation’s history.
Popular opinion doesn’t actually matter all that much.
What’s more, poll results are sketchy at best. For example, we know that when people say they support gun control laws, that changes when they see the nitty gritty of what that entails. The like the abstract, but when they find out that it actually applies to them and theirs, that seems to shift.
And that’s the problem with these polls.
People in Kansas aren’t any different than people most other places. They’re fine with the police taking guns from dangerous people. They’re not fine with the fact that they could be determined to be dangerous people without the judge ever even seeing them, much less talking to them.
What’s more, even if they have some degree of actual support for this legislation, it’s not enough to impact their voting.
See, people generally have a hierarchy of support for different bits of legislation. Many have a few issues that are dealbreakers for them–say, supporting gun control–and others don’t, but everyone has a handful of positions they figure matter more than the others.
Part of the reason gun control hasn’t been a winning issue for Democrats historically has been that most people who supported it didn’t care enough to vote based on that issue. I suggest that’s still the case, they just are winning in places where the other issues Democrats bring to the table are what wins there.
Regardless, voters in Kansas aren’t tripping over themselves to support gun control candidates, and unless that changes, there’s no reason for lawmakers to trip over themselves to back such policies, regardless of what public opinion polls say.
So really, between all of these factors, there’s absolutely no reason for anyone to take this supposed data seriously.