A new UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies (IGS) poll released earlier this week revealed 86 percent of Democrats think imposing greater controls on gun ownership is more important than protecting Second Amendment rights.
By contrast, 82 percent of Republicans believe it is more important to protect Second Amendment rights than to restrict them (12%).
Another poll question provided an answer. More than twice as many Democrats (78%) fear being a victim of gun-related violent crime than Republicans (36%).
“Republican voters’ lower level of concern about the threat of gun violence in their own lives appears to be a significant factor contributing to these voters’ much lower levels of support for gun control legislation that would seek to reduce such violence,” said IGS Director Mark DiCamillo.
According to the Los Angeles Times, “The survey also revealed a stark political divide over fear about gun violence among Californians, and of the disproportional concern among women, city residents and people of color in the state.”
DiCamillo is quoted by the Times acknowledging, “What was most striking to me had to do with the fears of gun violence affecting their own personal lives. I wouldn’t have expected there to be a huge partisan divide on that.”
The newspaper also quoted Christian Heyne, vice president of policy and programs at the Brady gun control group. His take: “I don’t think there are people in other industrialized countries throughout the world that would have a similar percentage of fear by population. And I think that’s because we stand uniquely in a position where gun violence is a reality, that our laws and access to weapons mean that no community can feel safe from gun violence.”
Evidently, Republicans don’t share that level of fear. This may explain why the poll shows a whopping 88 percent of Democrats favoring tougher gun laws, while 61 percent of Independents share that view, but only 20 percent of Republicans go along. On the other hand, 78 percent of Republican respondents said stricter gun laws “would not help very much.”
The poll results appear reflective of the national divide which has resulted in Democrats earning the reputation for being the “party of gun prohibition.” Democrats are far more likely to support bans on so-called “assault weapons” or handguns, while Republicans are seen as essentially protective of Second Amendment rights.
This scenario is playing out right now in Michigan, Minnesota, Washington, Oregon, Illinois, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and California, where Democrats controlling the state legislatures are pushing a gun control agenda. The media appears to be playing a role, say critics, by routinely mis-labeling gun control as “gun safety” or “gun reform” efforts. Within the firearms community, the term “camo-speak” sometimes pops up in conversations about gun control.
Overall, the survey—which the Los Angeles Times co-sponsored—shows 58 percent of survey respondents think expanding mental health services might help reduce mass shootings. Only 10 percent disagree.