A new Pew Research Center poll released yesterday contains some bad news for at least some hardcore gun rights activists, but at the same time also further paints Democrats into a corner of their own choosing: That of the “Party of Gun Control.”
According to the Pew poll, taken July 14-20 among 2,002 adults, 85 percent of Americans support expanded background checks. That includes 88 percent of Democrats and 79 percent of Republicans. By a wide margin (79 percent) they also support laws prohibiting mentally ill people from buying guns, and 70 percent overall support “the creation of a federal database to track all gun sales.”
But there is something else among the Pew survey’s revelations. Seventy percent of Democrats support banning so-called “assault weapons,” the poll said, but only 48 percent of identified Republicans favor the idea. A whopping 85 percent of Democrats want a federal database tracking gun sales, while 55 percent of Republicans favor that idea, the poll results noted.
A report on the poll results also said this: “There continues to be a substantial partisan gap in opinions about whether it is more important to control gun ownership or protect gun rights – much larger, in fact, than the gap over specific gun proposals. Nearly three-quarters of Democrats (73%) say it is more important to control gun ownership; 71% of Republicans say it is more important to protect gun rights.” How can the party expect to attract more gun owners when surveys say this?
It’s rather interesting timing. As this column reported earlier in the week, the far left Seattle City Council – probably not a Republican among them, but there is one Socialist – adopted a special tax on the retail sale of firearms and ammunition. Late yesterday, the Protect Our Gun Rights (POGR) group launched a funding appeal to finance a lawsuit to stop this new law in its tracks.
Not surprisingly, the gun prohibition lobby beat POGR to it earlier in the week, asking for funds to fight any lawsuit against the $25 tax on guns and the five-cent tax on centerfire ammunition. Critics of the ordinance say it violates the long-standing state preemption law, passed in 1983, that has withstood court challenges. Some of those critics also suggest the new Seattle tax is another attempt to erode the preemption law with hopes of one day getting rid of it so anti-gun city governments can restore a patchwork of confusing and conflicting gun laws.
The Pew Research results show Second Amendment advocates have their work cut out. This latest survey revealed that 50 percent of Americans believe it is more important to control gun ownership than it is to protect gun rights (47 percent). That’s an alarming shift from just eight months ago, when 52 percent of the survey respondents felt protecting gun rights was more important than controlling gun ownership (46 percent). It represents a five point loss for gun rights and a four-point gain for gun control.
What can rights activists do recapture lost ground? Should they:
- Show more willingness to compromise?
- Declare there will be no more negotiations over a constitutional right?
- Stage open carry demonstrations at locations around the country?
- Try to educate the public about background checks, what they do and don’t accomplish?
- Get more active in local precinct politics, school board and town council races?
- Actively support pro-Second Amendment candidates?
- Vote for Republicans and Libertarians, and against Democrats?
- Join and financially support gun rights organizations?
- Run their own scientific survey?
- Bury guns and emergency supplies in PVC pipe?
Tell what you think should be done in the “Comments” section below.
The national elections are more than a year away, but the campaigns are already underway. Elections do matter, but last fall in Washington, when Initiative 594 was on the ballot, almost half of the state’s voters, including tens of thousands of gun owners, didn’t even vote.
Politics is a contact sport, especially where gun rights are concerned, and so is the battle over public opinion. You can’t win by sitting on the sidelines as a spectator.
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