So sayeth your President, America.
President Barack Obama pressed Congress on Monday to at least hold a vote on banning assault weapons, the most contentious part of his plan to curb gun violence in the United States.
Obama’s comments suggested a realization in the White House that it will be difficult to get such a ban passed by lawmakers, despite consistent public support for the measure.
Opposition is high in Congress, including among some Democrats, and by calling simply for a vote, Obama seemed to acknowledge that even getting that far – let alone having an assault weapons ban approved – would be a struggle.
OK, this is where I get a bit miffed (which is much like saying that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were slightly damaged).
The claim that there is consistent public support for an assault weapons ban is an outright lie.
The so-called “support” all depends on whom you ask and how you phrase the question.
For instance, a University of Connecticut/Hartford Courant Poll. polled 1,002 adults nationwide between January 22-28, 2013 and found that 48 percent “strongly favor” banning “military style assault weapons,” while 9 percent “somewhat favor” it. I don’t know what the difference between the two is, or how they define it. It does not explain what those weapons are. I would venture a guess that most people polled who favor this ban envision an automatic weapon, capable of firing lots and lots of rounds with one pull of the trigger. Making the question vague like this certainly helps skew the results.
Meanwhile Politico reported shortly after the December Newtown shooting, that 51 percent of Americans don’t want the ban at all.
Again, this poll asks about “semi-automatic rifles known as assault rifles.” I would venture an educated guess and say that most people envision scary, black rifles, and have no idea that these things fire one round with one pull of the trigger, much like any handgun. Maybe if more details were provided, and more people were educated about these firearms, less of them would be so anxious to ban them.
Another poll – a more recent one – shows Americans say law-abiding citizens “should be allowed” to own assault weapons.
I will leave the whole issue of “should be allowed” alone for now other than to say that the words “should be allowed” should never be used in reference to the exercise of a basic, fundamental right.
That said, Reason points out that wording does matter.
I urge you to go read the Reason article I linked to above and examine their polling methodology.
And then I urge you to take anything the media says about public opinion with a grain of salt.