Early Warning for 05 March 2018: New National Survey on Gun Rights Looking Bleak

Good morning. Here’s your Early Warning for Monday, 05 March 2018.

A recent YouGov/Economist poll is turning up some indicators of the direction of the country on gun rights. Overall, Americans are evenly split that gun rights are as important as protecting people from gun violence. When forced to choose between “The right of people to own guns” and “Protecting people from gun violence”, Whites are more likely to choose gun rights than minorities are. Some 56 percent of Whites say that gun rights are more important, while Blacks and Hispanics agree at rates of 29 percent and 40 percent, respectively. On the flip side, 71 percent of Blacks and 60 percent of Hispanics say that protecting people from gun violence is more important the the right to gun ownership.

According to the poll, 61 percent of Americans want to make laws covering the sale of hand guns more strict, and 55 percent either favor strongly or favor somewhat banning semi-automatic weapons. 63 percent of Americans either strongly favor or favor somewhat a national gun registry, and 81 percent either strongly favor or favor somewhat expanded background checks. Around 23 percent of Americans want to repeal the Second Amendment, compared to 60 percent who oppose strongly or somewhat oppose the measure. 46 percent say they’re in favor of “[modifying] the Second Amendment to allow for stricter regulation”.

It’s too early to say just how these opinions will affect elections and legislation going forward. As is often the case, Americans’ reaction to a mass shooting like Parkland results in a greater desire to curb gun rights in the short term, and then that desire often fades over time, on average. The other thing that really bothers me about this poll is how oddly some of the questions were worded. In addition, the poll uses terminology like “magazine clips” and some of the questions were quite confusing. We’re eight months away from the mid-terms so we can expect the Democrats to keep pressing anti-gun rhetoric. There’s currently an assault weapons ban bill in the House, but we’re unlikely to see any movement on it. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell already said that the Senate wouldn’t consider it under his tenure, and House Speaker Paul Ryan is unlikely to move forward on it, either. You can read the survey in its entirety here.

Samuel Culper is a former military intelligence NCO and contract Intelligence analyst. He spent three years in Iraq and Afghanistan and is now the intelligence and warfare researcher at Forward Observer.

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