Attempts by Democrats to demagogue the recent terror attack in San Bernardino to push a new ban on “assault weapons” has failed to convince Americans. In fact, it might have backfired altogether. For the first time in 20 years of polling the question, the CBS/New York Times poll finds a majority opposed to an “assault weapons” ban 44/50, even as gun control in other contexts polls more consistently with previous findings (via Twitchy and Patrick Egan):
The NYT report saves this nugget for the second-to-last paragraph in its lengthy analysis of the survey:
What has shifted notably are attitudes on gun control. Only 44 percent of Americans favor a ban on assault weapons, 19 percentage points lower than after the mass shooting in Tucson in 2011. And while 51 percent favor stricter gun control in general, that is down from 58 percent in October.
Yes, those attitudes on bans of vaguely defined weapons have “shifted notably,” and noticeably in the opposite direction of what the lecturing elites in government and the media intended. I wonder what that means. One thing it means is that Americans trust Republicans more than Democrats on gun laws, albeit narrowly at 41/37 — not bad for a D+5 sample (24/29/40).
However, it’s not apparent that there has been a big shift on other gun issues from this poll. On whether existing gun laws should be more strict, a majority of 51% still says yes. more or less within the range of the last couple of years, and significantly higher than the 39% in 2012. On whether those laws would “help prevent gun violence,” it’s a virtual split at 50/48, while two months ago it got a 59/40. Mental-health screening and treatment as a solution to gun violence is still very popular, with 77% of respondents saying it would help some or a lot, and only 19% saying it wouldn’t have much or any impact.
The big shift is that Americans have finally begun to tire of the “we need to ban scary looking weapons that don’t differ much from other weapons” demagoguery that Democrats have been pushing for the last few years. One might have thought that the 2014 elections would have provided some clue, but perhaps a poll in the New York Times will have a little more impact.
We might wonder about the impact on The New Republic, too. They chose yesterday to run Phoebe Maltz Bovy’s emoting on the need to ban all the guns:
Ban guns. All guns. Get rid of guns in homes, and on the streets, and, as much as possible, on police. Not just because of San Bernardino, or whichever mass shooting may pop up next, but also not not because of those. Don’t sort the population into those who might do something evil or foolish or self-destructive with a gun and those who surely will not. As if this could be known—as if it could be assessed without massively violating civil liberties and stigmatizing the mentally ill. Ban guns! Not just gun violence. Not just certain guns. Not just already-technically-illegal guns. All of them. …
It doesn’t take specialized expertise in constitutional law to understand that current U.S. gun law gets its parameters from Supreme Court interpretations of the Second Amendment. But it’s right there in the First Amendment that we don’t have to simply nod along with what follows. That the Second Amendment has been liberally interpreted doesn’t prevent any of us from saying it’s been misinterpreted, or that it should be repealed.
When you find yourself assuming that everyone who has a more nuanced (or just pro-gun) argument is simply better read on the topic, remember that opponents of abortion aren’t wondering whether they should have a more nuanced view of abortion because of Roe v. Wade. They’re not keeping their opinions to themselves until they’ve got a term paper’s worth of material proving that they’ve studied the relevant case law.
Um … did anyone ever explain to Bovy the difference between a Supreme Court ruling and explicit constitutional text? There isn’t any language in the Constitution about abortion; there is an explicit right to bear arms. It’s right there in the Second Amendment. The Supreme Court could reverse Roe, but they can’t change the text of the Constitution. Furthermore, no one is suggesting that Bovy be prevented from making dumb arguments, but most people should know better than to take those seriously — at least those outside of the editorial offices of TNR.
On one point, Bovy is correct: the Second Amendment can be repealed, and she can argue for that. But it’s not a process that involves the Supreme Court, or any court at all. It takes 38 states and two-thirds of both chambers of Congress to amend the Constitution, or a constitutional convention. When Bovy has a path to that kind of action open, plus any rational idea about how 60 million households would get stripped of their firearms without starting a war, then she can be sure to let us all in on the plan.
This suggests that she’s not even within sight of rationality, though:
What’s needed to stop all gun violence is a vocal ban guns contingent. Getting bogged down in discussions of what’s feasible is keeps what needs to happen—no more guns—from entering the realm of possibility.
The logical fallacy here is amazing to behold in a once-significant publication like TNR. Seizing every gun from every home and repealing the Second Amendment isn’t impossible because no one’s talking about it. No one talks about it because it’s impossible — practically, politically, and morally. Just the size of the police state required to execute such a plan boggles the rational mind, an encumbrance from which Bovy clearly does not suffer. Thankfully, Americans have started to become a lot more rational about self-defense as gun-grabbers have become a lot more transparent about their true desires.