Gallup chalks this four-year low in its polling on gun control up to a lack of a “high-profile mass shooting.” Perhaps it’s more due to a decade-plus high in other kinds of shootings — and the lack of police response to them. Either way, support has sharply dropped in 2020 for more gun control legislation, although support for rolling back existing laws is still on the fringe (via Cam Edwards at Bearing Arms):

In the absence of a high-profile mass shooting in the U.S. in 2020 and amid the coronavirus pandemic, civil unrest related to racial justice issues and the contentious presidential election campaign, Americans are less likely than they have been since 2016 to call for increased gun control. The latest majority (57%) in the U.S. who call for stricter laws covering the sale of firearms marks a seven-percentage-point decline since last year. At the same time, 34% of U.S. adults prefer that gun laws be kept as they are now, while 9% would like them to be less strict.

Gallup has been tracking the public’s views on this measure since 1990, when a record-high 78% of Americans supported stricter laws for gun sales as the nation’s crime rate was rising. A majority of Americans held that position until 2008. Support then fell to a low of 43% in 2011, when an equal number said gun laws should be kept as is, but calls for stricter laws increased sharply to 58% in 2012 after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Since the early 1990s, Americans’ preferences for tougher gun control have generally peaked in the wake of prominent mass shootings and waned as the memory of each fades. A recent example was the 2018 school massacre in Parkland, Florida, after which support for increased gun control hit 67%. Support remained near that level last year in two readings taken after mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, on consecutive days in August.

Could it be that other “mass” events have had more of an impact in 2020? Say, the mass riots that took place over the summer, and the retreat of the police departments in major cities as a result? That retreat left a vacuum that got filled rapidly by criminals who victimized cities where citizens were instructed to cooperate with robberies, and who got lectured on “privilege” for worrying about property crimes.

We have already seen a “poll” of Americans on the issue of gun control this year. They’re not buying it — or to put it another way, they’re buying gun ownership instead, and in record numbers:

With nearly two months still to go in 2020, sales of firearms have hit a new high in the U.S., already topping the prior record set in 2016, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation. …

The National Shooting Sports Foundation found that 17.2 million background checks were completed this year, versus 15.7 million in 2016, the previous high-water mark for gun sales. Firearm purchases have climbed every month since March, and more than 1.7 million background checks were conducted in October alone, a roughly 60% jump over the same period in 2019.

The trade group in August noted that nearly 5 million Americans bought a firearm for the first time in 2020, pointing to factors including the pandemic and nationwide protests against police brutality that at times included violence and looting.

“Politically-charged calls to defund police also continue to spur sales,” stated the foundation, which also pointed out that firearm sales typically climb during presidential election years.

The “defund/abolish the police” riots and the pullback of police have convinced many Americans of the necessity for effective self-defense. It seems almost ridiculous to chalk up this drop in Gallup’s polling to a lack of shootings when firearm homicides have shot up by double digits in many cities.

What makes this interesting is that support has dropped in all three partisan groups over the past year. The decline among Democrats (-3 to 85%) and independents (-4 to 60%) has been smallish, but gun-control support had been trending sharply upward for the past decade among unaffiliated voters (40% in 2013). Support for stricter laws dropped fourteen points among Republicans to 22% this year. That makes for a 63-point gap, the highest seen in Gallup’s longitudinal polling on this issue over the last two-plus decades, but Democrats should be worried about the momentum shift among independents.

And just as interestingly, support for a handgun ban has also declined. At 25%, it’s practically a fringe position, even though handguns make up nearly all of firearm-related homicides:

Americans’ support for a ban on the possession of handguns, at 25%, is near the lowest on record in Gallup’s 40-year trend. The latest reading, which is down 18 points from its 1991 high, is a slight decline from last year’s 29%. Currently, 74% of U.S. adults say such a ban should not be put in place. …

In a year that has seen record-high gun sales, Americans’ appetite for gun control is the lowest it has been since 2016, before mass shootings in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Parkland, Florida. There has not been a major mass shooting in the U.S. since mid-2019 — which may explain the decline in support for stricter gun laws, given that the trend on this measure has shown that such events tend to drive public opinion.

Or perhaps other things are driving public opinion these days — like the impunity with which criminals have seized control of the streets, and the lack of accountability in local government for it. The lesson from the riots is this: either defend yourself or prepare to be victimized.