Gallup: Gun control way down the list of concerns for Americans

posted at 1:11 pm on January 15, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Following up on a point made by Allahpundit from the WaPo/ABC poll on gun control, the latest survey from Gallup shows what an epic fail the media campaign for legislative and executive action has been.  The WaPo/ABC survey specifically focused on gun control, with the first three questions in the poll specific to the issue before asking about issue priorities in general.  Even with that kind of a lead-in, gun control only comes in fourth on concerns.

Gallup instead asks respondents in an open-ended question to identify the biggest problem facing the country, and gun control doesn’t even get an honorable mention:

Americans’ concerns about the federal budget deficit and government dysfunction rose high enough in January to knock unemployment out of the top two slots on Gallup’s “most important problem” list for the first time since 2009.

The poll finds 20% of Americans mentioning the federal budget deficit as the top problem, compared with 18% mentioning dissatisfaction with some aspect of government or government leaders, and 16% naming jobs or unemployment.

This distribution of open-ended responses to the “most important problem” question underscores a general shift from the dominance of concerns about the economy and unemployment to an increasing focus on problems more directly associated with government. The economy and unemployment had ranked as the top two problems each month since December 2009.

Now, the “dissatisfaction with government” percentage is as high as it has been since the Watergate days of 1974, although the precise ways in which these open-ended questions have been coded has changed somewhat during that time. The percentage mentioning the deficit as the top problem is as high as it has been since 1996.

So where do gun issues land on the list, after nearly a full month of intense media focus?  Er …. tied for sixth with four other issues at a whopping 4%, including “ethics,” “poor healthcare,” and “taxes,” which seems to be a mostly-resolved issue after the fiscal-cliff deal.  If we combine mentions of guns with “crime/violence,” it would move up to fifth place at 6%, barely edging “lack of money,” far behind “unemployment” at fourth place with 16%.

Even for those paying attention in nominally liberal areas, the numbers aren’t exactly pressing for significant action.  Survey USA polled Oregonians on gun rights and gun control, and a majority (54/38) not only prioritized gun rights over gun control, by a 2-1 margin (62/30) believe that gun rights protect citizens rather than make society more dangerous.  Among independents, those numbers are 58/37 and 72/20, respectively.  A 12-poing majority opposes bans on semi-automatic weapons (51/39), although a wide majority approves of a capacity limit (62/31).

Finally, Newt Gingrich asks the question that the media should have asked all along.  If gun control is the path to public safety, then Chicago should be the safest city in the nation … right?

“Well, I think it’s amazing that we’re having all this discussion about gun control: The president’s hometown, Chicago, is the murder capital of the United States. Over 500 people were killed there last year. Vice President Biden doesn’t seem to want to go there. I’m trying to get the House Republicans to hold hearings there. It’s illegal to have all the guns that are killing people in Chicago. If gun control works, Chicago ought to be safe,” said Gingrich.

And Washington DC, as well as Connecticut, which already had an assault-weapons ban in place.

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