The Corner

The American Public Opposes a New Assault Weapons Ban

Here’s a dash of good political news. Americans are turning against assault weapons bans:

Support for a so-called assault weapons ban in the U.S. just hit a record low of 36 percent, according to a new Gallup poll released on Wednesday. The poll showed that 61 percent of American adults now oppose a ban. That level of opposition is the highest ever recorded.

Increasing opposition to the 1990’s-era gun ban isn’t just limited to Republicans. Gallup’s data show that opposition to the ban has increased across the board. Barely 50 percent of Democrats currently support the ban today, compared to 63 percent support from Democrats in 1996, just two years after the federal ban was signed into law. Less than a third of independents currently support a ban, while Republican support hovers at 25 percent.

Indeed, the Gallup chart shows a material drop since 2012:

Over at The Federalist, Sean Davis offers his theories as to why — despite persistent media scaremongering — Americans love their rifles:

Which brings us back to Gallup’s alleged paradox of opposition to the so-called assault weapons ban increasing in the midst of a wave of terrorist shootings. There is actually nothing at all paradoxical about it. Americans understand that terrorists want to murder us, and that our laws are no obstacle to their blood lust. They will use planes, or bombs, or trucks, or knives, or boxcutters, or guns. Just as strict gun control laws in cities like Chicago and Washington, D.C., have done nothing to prevent sky-high murder rates in those cities year after year, poorly thought out laws regulating rifles will do nothing to prevent terrorists from trying to murder innocent Americans.

Americans also understand that while gun control laws don’t necessarily deter violent criminals or terrorists, they do make it harder for innocent Americans to protect themselves from those same criminals and terrorists. And when you take into account the U.S. government’s continued failure to protect its people from terrorist attacks, increasing opposition to laws that make it harder for people to defend themselves and their families makes perfect sense. If the government is not willing or able to perform its duty to protect the homeland, then people will feel compelled take matters into their own hands, and they will bristle at any attempt to neuter their right to self-defense.

I’d also note that there’s another reason why support for a ban is dropping — weapons like the AR-15 have been demystified. Americans have bought them by the millions, and millions more have either fired an AR-15 or know a friends or neighbor who owns one. Like any weapon, you have to know how to use it and handle it appropriately, but its popularity isn’t due to the bloodthirstiness of its owners but rather the elegance and utility of its design. As my colleague Charlie Cooke has written, the AR-15 is the modern musket on the mantle:

In truth, the AR-15 is the contemporary equivalent of the musket—an everyday gun for everyday citizens. Fundamentally, the AR-15 is democratic. It is the yeoman’s gun; the people’s gun; the Brown Bess of our era. It is what William Blackstone was referring to when he praised private arms; what George Orwell had in mind when he sought to keep the “rifle on the wall of the labourer’s cottage;” what Ida B. Wells imagined when she recommended that endangered blacks give a rifle “a place of honor” in their homes. As the standard firearm of its day, the AR-15 does not represent some bizarre over-extension of the right to keep and bear arms. It is the very core of that right.

This is exactly right, and with every AR sold, more Americans enjoy the benefit of greater liberty and security. In other words, the AR-15 is its own best argument. 

David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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