In the morass of anti-gun stories in an unending trickle from the pens of the Fourth Estate, one key aspect is often overlooked: the wishes of the American people. According to a recent survey from Rasmussen Reports, only 16% of respondents feel that the average American should not be allowed to own a gun. So, where does this massive disconnect between the people and the messaging come from?
While announcing his series of gun reforms, President Joe Biden said that he would be willing to work with anyone to achieve his aims and that “[t]his is not a partisan issue among the American people.” Is he right? Or is this perhaps more proof of the adage that there are lies, damned lies, and statistics?
At the end of March, Newsweek published an article detailing what Americans wanted in terms of gun control. A key paragraph reads:
“Polling published in February by Gallup showed that a majority of Americans said they are ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ dissatisfied with current U.S. gun laws. The survey found that 56 percent express dissatisfaction, while 42 percent said they were ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ satisfied with the current laws on the books.”
However, a deeper dive into the actual polling paints a somewhat different story. Certainly, 56% were dissatisfied with current laws, but not all of these respondents wanted more gun control.
In an issue that is so starkly divisive among the public and one that is trending toward a 50/50 split, how can Biden describe this as a “non-partisan issue” for Americans?
Another Gallup poll has asked annually whether the possession of handguns should be allowed only for the police and other authorized persons. The most recent figure was 74% against. This number has been consistent over the last four years and it has more than doubled since the first survey was taken. Simply put, people want to be able to own firearms.
“Are you for or against a law which would make it illegal to manufacture, sell or possess semi-automatic guns known as assault rifles?” queried another annual survey – the results were 51% against, 47% for.
So, overall, a majority of Americans want to be able to buy handguns and semi-automatic rifles and are not too happy with present gun laws. Add this to the record number of gun sales last year, and it begs the question: Is Biden correct that this is not a partisan issue?
Hijacking an Idea
Politicians jumping on the bandwagon to promote ideas or push laws for which they have long advocated is not, by any measure of the phrase, reaching a consensus. It is opportunism. Biden can claim that his proposed controls will not impact the right to bear arms, but how could they not?
It seems no coincidence that pollsters run this type of survey in the wake of, and with reference to, widely reported shooting incidents. Using emotions and emotional times to get the result you want is not a new trick. But the fact is, regardless of the spin and faulty definitions, a majority of Americans support the Second Amendment.
Read more from Mark Angelides.