With the recent revelations about gun violence and the on-air murder of two Virginia journalists fresh in our minds, there’s talk once again about gun control laws. The right would have you believe that the vast majority of Americans don’t want any laws or regulations regarding guns. Because, Second Amendment. But that is an outright lie. There are at least three laws regulating gun sales that an actual vast majority of Americans support.
Background checks, banning the sale of guns to the mentally ill and setting up a federal database of gun sales are all supported by a majority of Americans, according to Pew Research. This bar graph illustrates Pew polls taken at three different times, the latest being July of 2015.
Background checks have overwhelming support from 85% of Americans, both Democrats (88%) and Republicans (79%). As for banning the mentally ill from purchasing a gun, that is supported by eight out of ten Americans. Despite the NRA’s hysterics over it, 70% back a federal database tracking all gun sales. A smaller majority supports a ban on assault-style weapons.
These numbers haven’t really changed much since December of 2013, after a gunman massacred 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School. This latest poll was taken a month after the mass murder in a Charleston, SC church. If you’re thinking that these shootings impacted the poll, Mark Berman of The Washington Post notes:
“… our recent history suggests that it would be tough to poll Americans on gun policy without some high-profile, relatively recent shooting likely fresh in their minds.”
Indeed, since we average one mass shooting per day, that is an astute observation. When aren’t we talking about a mass shooting, lately?
The poll also measured the support for gun control versus the support for gun rights. That dynamic has switched since the December 2013 poll. Then, 50% supported gun rights over 47% for gun control. Those numbers are now pretty much flipped:
Republicans, as you’d expect, are more vocal about gun rights. The report notes:
There continues to be a substantial partisan gap in opinions about whether it is more important to control gun ownership or protect gun rights – much larger, in fact, than the gap over specific gun proposals. Nearly three-quarters of Democrats (73%) say it is more important to control gun ownership; 71% of Republicans say it is more important to protect gun rights.
When asked about gun rights versus gun laws, the numbers were close (as illustrated above). But if the individual measures are asked about, the majority of respondents favor regulation in the form of background checks, banning the mentally ill from purchasing guns and setting up a federal database of gun sales. The results are unwavering.
Despite the rhetoric from groups like the NRA and the politicians in their pockets, the vast majority of Americans support sensible gun laws. This doesn’t signal the end of the Second Amendment or the feds coming for our guns. But it does illustrate that most Americans understand what “well-regulated” means. Unfortunately, our representatives in Congress will remain cowards on this issue.
Featured image via Pixabay