Two new surveys about gun rights versus gun control may be helping more to cloud the issue than bring about some semblance of “compromise legislation” as politicians continue this week negotiating so-called “gun reforms” in the aftermath of high-profile mass shootings in Buffalo, NY and Uvalde, Tex.
A CBS News poll released over the weekend said 81 percent of Americans support background checks on all potential gun buyers, the network reported. The same poll reportedly found that 62 percent of Americans support “a nationwide ban” on so-called “assault weapons.”
But Rasmussen shows much lower support for such a ban, to the point it is almost a dead heat. According to Rasmussen, “44% of Likely U.S. voters believe banning weapons like the AR-15 would not violate the Second Amendment, which guarantees the right to own firearms. Forty-one percent (41%) think such a ban would violate the Second Amendment. Another 15% are not sure.”
And FiveThirtyEight pointed to a Pew Research survey from last year showing a chasm between Republicans and Democrats on the subject of banning semi-auto rifles (37 percent versus 83 percent, respectively).
Bipartisan talks on gun control are continuing this week with Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas and anti-gun Democrat Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut. Much of the media is portraying this as an effort at “gun reform,” while Second Amendment activists recognize it as another gun control effort.
With the varying poll results, it may be difficult for politicians to negotiate, though CBS reported Cornyn believing raising the age limit on purchasing a so-called “assault weapon” “had been taken off the table by Murphy.” The same report said GOP Sen. Pat Toomey believes “expanding background checks is ‘on the table.’”
And there’s the potential for backlash from gun owners, ranging from court action to the midterm elections.
Alan Gottlieb, founder and executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation, wrote at Breitbart over the weekend, “Gun owners should regard ‘expanded background checks’ as a code name for federal gun registration.”
On the other hand, Christian Heyne, vice president for policy at the Brady United gun prohibition group suggested on Fox News that if Republican senators go along with gun control, it would help them at the polls this fall. Heyne maintains that new proposed gun controls will ensure “that law-abiding responsible, gun owners are still able to exercise their Second Amendment rights.”
However, according to Rasmussen, “Fifty-nine percent (59%) of Democrats don’t believe banning weapons like the AR-15 would violate the Second Amendment, but that belief is shared by only 28% of Republicans and 43% of voters not affiliated with either major party. Fifty-six percent (56%) of Republicans think banning certain weapons would violate Second Amendment rights, as do 29% of Democrats and 39% of unaffiliated voters.”
The push to “do something” after Uvalde, where 19 children and two teachers were murdered, is strong on Capitol Hill, at least among Democrats. Joe Biden has called for a ban on semi-autos, including 9mm pistols, but he seems willing to settle for hiking the minimum purchase age for such rifles to 21.
He has not commented on a ruling by a three-judge panel in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that California’s prohibition on semiautomatic rifle sales to young adults under age 21 is unconstitutional. That decision came down in mid-May.