Stricter gun control is falling off of Americans’ list of concerns as antifa-BLM violence continues in parts of the country, according to the latest from Gallup.
Gun control also seems to have fallen off Democrats’ radar, at least publicly — but we’ll get to that in a moment.
First, the numbers.
The polling company reports:
In the absence of a high-profile mass shooting in the U.S. in 2020 and amid the coronavirus pandemic, civil unrest related to racial justice issues and the contentious presidential election campaign, Americans are less likely than they have been since 2016 to call for increased gun control.
That’s interesting news, but I’d have phrased it more like this:
In the absence of effective policing in several large U.S. cities, and sudden increases in violent crime unseen in over 25 years, Americans are less likely than they have been since 2016 to call for increased gun control.
Fifty-seven percent is still 10 points higher than it was just five years ago, but a ten-point drop in just two years appears to be the fastest drop in support for increased gun control that Gallup has ever reported.
The same poll says that “34% of U.S. adults prefer that gun laws be kept as they are now, while 9% would like them to be less strict.”
Gallup’s figures show that like so many other issues, the desire for stricter gun laws breaks quite clearly across five divides: Gender (aka “Sex”), party affiliation, gun owners/non-owners, region, and urban vs rural residents.
The two-year drop comes despite nearly two years of campaigning for stricter gun control laws from alleged Democratic President-elect Joe Biden and all of his defeated rivals for the Dem nomination.
Former Democratic congressman Robert Crimthand Domnall-Blathmac Embroidery “Beta” O’Rourke — er, Beto O’Rourke — probably went further than most, assuring Democratic primary voters that he’d confiscate semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15.
Last March, when Biden accepted O’Rourke’s endorsement, he promised supporters:
“I want to make something clear, I’m going to guarantee you this is not the last you’ve seen of him,” Biden said Monday evening during a campaign rally in Dallas. “You’re going to take care of the gun problem with me. You’re going to be the one who leads this effort.”
“I’m counting on you. I’m counting on you,” Biden continued. “We need you badly, the state needs you, the country needs you. You’re the best.”
For his part, however, O’Rourke might not have the time or inclination to join a (hypothetical) Biden administration. Last month the former Texas congressman accepted a teaching position at Texas State University (San Marcos) starting in March of 2021.
Bloomberg reported last week that Biden “promised swift action on housing, labor, gun control, LGBTQ rights and government reform,” but the story lacks any details about what Biden might — or even could — get done on gun control.
During the general election campaign, gun control was barely mentioned by the Biden campaign or any big-name Democrats, despite all the talk of stricter laws and so-called “buybacks” during the primary race.
It’s long past time we take action to end the scourge of gun violence in America.
As president, I’ll ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, implement universal background checks, and enact other common-sense reforms to end our gun violence epidemic.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) November 1, 2020
This Biden tweet from very late in the races and a mostly-ignored page devoted to gun control on his website were about as much as I could find on the issue.
If President Donald Trump wins re-election in the still-contested race, it’s clear that gun control is off the table for at least four years.
If not, there doesn’t seem to be much the Democrats could accomplish legislatively, with their fractured and shrunken House majority, and the Senate likely to stay in Republican hands.
That still leaves executive orders, an area where any president enjoys broad powers — overly broad, if you ask me.
But with support for stricter gun control in a two-year freefall, politically hamstrung big-city police departments, and a fractured political scene even if Biden does win, all indicate that no one is coming to take your AR-15 away any time soon.