The Public Supports Gun Control, But Gun Rights Proponents Are Way More Active

In general, I’m skeptical about the prospects for new gun-control laws. The universe of people whose political activism is centered on opposing gun control is still much larger than the reverse, and few Republican lawmakers have any incentive to sign on to any kind of comprehensive law.

With that said, there is wide public support for several commonsense measures. A new survey from the Pew Research Center, for example, shows that 85 percent of Americans support background checks for private and guns show sales, 80 percent support preventing people with mental illnesses from buying guns, and 67 percent support a federal database to track guns.

Even still, gun-rights advocates are still more politically involved than their gun-control counterparts. Forty-two percent of people who support gun rights have either contributed money to a pro-gun group, contacted a public official on gun policy, signed a petition, or expressed an opinion about guns on a social network. By contrast, only 25 percent of gun-control proponents can say the same.

As long as that division remains, it’s hard to imagine a situation where gun-control advocates have any kind of political advantage over their opponents.

Comments

I agree with the basic assertion that as long as those who support gun control are not politically engaged, your country (I am a Canadian) will remain mired in what I see as a deeply unhealthy state vis a vis the guns.

As an aside, I heard a Columbia professor on the radio this AM asserting that a relatively small fraction of shootings are carried out by the mentally ill. He further speculates that the NRA wishes to spin the whole recent uproar (brought on by Sandy Hook) as being an issue about mentall illness when, in reality (so the professor asserts), the real issue should indeed be increasing gun control.

I would not be surprised if he is right.

It may be true that mental illness accounts for a small portion of gun crime, however so do high capacity magazines and semi-automatic rifles. Of over 12,000 murders in in 2011, only 300-400 involved rifles. It can be assumed that even fewer were of the specific types targeted by so called "assault weapons" and large magazine bans. Assuming 100% effectiveness, these bans would impact, at most, 3% of all murders. When you consider that a majority of criminals will disregard bans or choose alternate methods to carry out their crimes, you are now talking about a negligible effect on crime. Meanwhile millions of law abiding citizens would lose the right to use these weapons for hunting, target practice, personal protection, and the defense of our democracy. These proposals are ineffective and a violation of our 2nd Amendment rights.

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