Via News Busters, the media id unleashed. Your companion reading for this clip is Byron York’s piece about cable-news sanctimony over gun control this week, and not just from the prime-time commentators either. Says York:
Why such open advocacy? What seems to have happened is that some journalists have assumed that since everyone is horrified by what happened in Newtown, everyone should also be united on what should be done about it, and that what should be done is the imposition of more stringent gun control measures. Guests who disagree can be in for a very public scolding.
I think it’s less them wanting people to be united than enjoying a temporary license to yell at the sort of people they wish they could yell at every day. Under normal circumstances, you can’t be as big of a jackhole to your guests as Morgan is here; “professionalism” requires some basic measure of civility. But with the public grieving over 20 children shot dead, you’re momentarily free to be as big of a jackhole as you want in the name of “passion” and outrage over what happened. A big part of the Do Something impulse comes from the guilt and impotence people naturally feel over having failed to protect those kids. One way to temper those feelings is to endorse broad gun-control measures, no matter how many innocent gun owners would be affected by them and how few would-be rampage killers would be deterred. The angrier you are, the more aggressive the policy response that you endorse, the more you supposedly care. Another way is to scream at or, in extreme cases, even threaten gun-rights advocates. We can’t kill Adam Lanza but maybe we can at least intimidate the sort of people who’d defend his right to carry a gun. Even though no one’s defending Adam Lanza’s right to carry a gun.
Anyway, three polls for you this afternoon. The one that’s getting attention is CNN’s because it’s the one that’s most useful to the left. And yet it’s still not very useful:
The number of Americans who favor major restrictions or an outright ban has typically hovered just under the 50% mark in recent years; now that number is just over 50%. According to the poll 52% say they favor major restrictions on guns or making all guns illegal. That’s a five point rise from a CNN survey conducted in early August, following the mass shooting in July at a movie theater in suburban Denver, Colorado that left 12 dead, and shootings two weeks later at a Sikh temple in suburban Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where six people were killed. The five point rise is within the poll’s sampling error…
The survey indicates the expected partisan divide on gun control. Nearly eight in ten Democrats say they favor major restrictions on owning guns or an outright ban. That number drops to 42% among independents and 31% among Republicans. There’s also a gender gap, with 41% of men saying say support major restrictions or an outright ban, with that number jumping to 62% among women.
Four days after one of the most horrendous crimes in modern American history, involving the most sympathetic victims imaginable, gun-control advocates can muster only the slimmest majority for major regulations — within the margin of error — and nothing close to those numbers among independents and Republicans. (The most interesting number from the poll, showing 62% support for banning “semi-automatic assault guns,” is going nowhere legislatively.) And as Obama and congressional Democrats know full well, even those weak numbers will begin to fade along with the news coverage of Sandy Hook. He needs to act fast. Meanwhile, over at Gallup, the public’s priorities already lie elsewhere:
Not only does banning semiautomatics trail far behind increased spending on mental health as a solution, but the number of those who think having school officials carry would be at least “somewhat effective” is actually slightly higher than the number who say the same about a ban. (Only 36 percent of independents support the ban. As with the CNN poll, all the public-opinion heavy lifting for gun control is being done by Democrats.) Rasmussen asked a question similar to Gallup’s — which of these options would be most effective in preventing mass shootings? — and once again better mental-health treatments trumped gun control, 48/27. Makes me wonder if all the talk about gun-grabbing lately is, at least in some parts, a sly ploy to convince fiscal conservatives that spending more on mental health is the lesser of two evils vis-a-vis regulating guns. In Gallup’s poll, just 35 percent of Republicans wanted the government to spend more on treating mental illness but that was still nine points higher than those who wanted to ban semiautomatics as a solution.
Oh well. A determined agenda will not be deterred, public support or no. (See also, e.g., ObamaCare.) First up: A ban on high-capacity magazines. Will that stop the next Lanza? Nah, probably not. Oh, and in related news, there’s suddenly a run on guns at major retailers.