Gun Control Continues To Lose Ground

As the second anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting approaches, Emily Badger observes that public opinion has shifted strongly in favor of gun rights over gun control:

For the first time since Pew began asking the question two decades ago, a majority of Americans now say that gun 12-10-2014-2-19-42-PMrights are more important than gun control — a striking shift in public opinion over both the last generation and just the last few years. As recently as December 2012, in the immediate aftermath of the Newtown, Conn., shooting, 51 percent of people surveyed by Pew said it was more important to control gun ownership than protect the rights of gun owners.

That consensus has since disappeared, confirming the fears of many gun-control advocates that outrage after Newtown wouldn’t last long.

What’s most striking in Pew’s new data is that views have shifted more in favor of gun rights since then among nearly every demographic group, including women, blacks, city-dwellers, parents, college graduates, millennials and independents. The two groups that haven’t budged? Hispanics and liberal Democrats.

Aaron Blake adds:

While the numbers are striking, this isn’t really all that new.

Guns12Polls have long shown this trend toward gun rights over gun control.

Here’s Gallup’s version. In 2000, 62 percent wanted stricter gun control. Today, it’s 47 percent, and 52 percent either want gun laws kept as their are or scaled back. Those numbers are essentially the same as Pew’s. You’ll notice the blip on Gallup’s chart in 2013. That was in the immediate aftermath of Newtown. For a short time, people wanted more gun control. But it was just a blip, and the underlying currents of the gun issue didn’t change.

As Mark Follman points out, school shootings haven’t stopped happening – they just don’t get as much press as Newtown did:

In the two years since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, no school shooting has claimed as many lives, nor ones as young, as on that terrible day. But fatal gun attacks at schools and on college campuses remain a fixture of American life. They have occurred once every five weeks on average since Sandy Hook, including two attacks—one in Santa Monica and another near Seattle—in which four or more victims were killed. With an investigation drawing on data from dozens of news reports, Mother Jones has identified and analyzed 21 deadly school shootings in the past two years. … During the same period, there have been dozens of other gun incidents on school grounds that caused injuries, as well as seven additional cases where someone committed suicide with a firearm, but no one else died.

Morrissey thinks Obama had a chance for a constructive compromise with the pro-gun camp but blew it by asking too much:

Had the White House and its activist allies limited their push to expanded background checks, they probably would have succeeded. The NRA doesn’t oppose background checks as long as they are not so onerous as to deny people the right to possess firearms responsibly. However, the White House and Bloomberg exploited Newtown to push for a renewed assault-weapons ban and restrictions on handguns and magazines, only retreating to background checks after those efforts largely failed. By pushing for a broad gun-control regime, the White House lost any support from Republicans they might have otherwise had, and poisoned the well for any future efforts.