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According to a new Gallup poll, support for stricter gun control has fallen by 15 percentage points in just the last five years. But, despite the drop being driven by independents’ changing views, Democrats aren’t likely to rethink their support for more gun control. The partisan divide on this issue has never been so large — 91% of Democrats and only 24% of Republicans support stricter laws.
While Democrats claim they want “reasonable” or “common sense” laws, you get an idea of how stark the partisan differences are by considering the response to Gallup’s question about whether people support a complete ban on civilian ownership of handguns: 40% of Democrats like the idea compared to only 6% of Republicans.
The recent election results in Virginia and New Jersey show Democrats are in real trouble with rural, working-class voters. Some pundits put part of the blame on the party’s constant push for gun control.
You can see the opposing views in the reactions to the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict. Democratic New York Gov. Kathy Hochul tweeted the lesson she took from it: “If there was any question about why we need strong gun safety laws, this is your answer. This should never have been allowed to happen in the first place.”
Other Democrats see gun ownership in apocalyptic terms. “This entire tragedy [with Rittenhouse] makes the case that we should not allow our fellow Americans to own and use weapons that were originally designed for battlefield use,” said Texas gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke. “That AR-15, that AK-47, has one single, solitary purpose and that is killing people as effectively, as efficiently, in as great a number, in as little time as possible. We saw that in Kenosha.”
O’Rourke calls AR-15s “weapons of war,” but he appears unaware that these guns fire the same bullets, with the same rapidity, and do the same damage as a small caliber hunting rifle. They just look like military weapons.
The New York Times ties the AR-15 that Rittenhouse used to the assault weapon ban lapsing in 2004 because Republicans “blocked its renewal.”
Meanwhile Republicans generally viewed the case as showing the benefit of guns for self-defense. They point out the person Kyle Rittenhouse wounded admitted on the witness stand that he was shot him only after he pointed a handgun directly at Rittenhouse. Another had struck Rittenhouse in the head with a skateboard and was going to do so again before Rittenhouse shot him.
You can also see the partisan gap in a new Rasmussen survey. While Democrats support a national registration system by a 64% to 25% margin, Republican opposition is the mirror image (27% to 63%). Sixty-four percent of Republicans fear that registration would mean the government will “eventually confiscate all guns.” They need not be conspiracy theorists to believe that, as 40% of Democrats agree.
The Washington Free Beacon obtained a leaked document this month showing that the Biden administration has already compiled the records of more than 54 million U.S. gun owners. They are also drastically changing Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) regulations to ensure the federal government collects all licensed dealer information on their customers.
It isn’t hard to see why so many Americans fear that eventual confiscation is the end game. Under the label of “reasonable” gun control laws, Democrats keep pushing rules to end private firearm ownership.
Do you think that is hyperbole?
Look no further than Biden’s nominee to head the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Saule Omarova. She calls for “debanking” of what she claims are “socially sub-optimal industries.” It is a revival of the Obama administration’s “Operation Chokepoint,” where the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) pressured banks into closing businesses’ accounts. Try running a company without someone to handle credit cards, lines of credit, check cashing, and other things that financial institutions do.
Or take President Biden’s “zero tolerance” policy toward what he calls “rogue” gun dealers. No policymaker wants dealers to secretly sell guns to criminals out of the back of their store. But that is not what Biden is going after. Even one mistake in paperwork, no matter how trivial and inconsequential, now means the loss of one’s license and the end of one’s business. When Biden talks about 5% of the gun dealers selling 90% of the guns found at crime scenes, he ignores the fact that 95% don’t.
The one common feature of these and many other proposals is to make owning a gun more costly and less common — thus driving gun makers and sellers out of business.
The Biden administration and other Democrats, even those in conservative states like Texas or Montana, show no intention of changing course. Republicans see Democrats releasing violent criminals on little or no bail, refusing to prosecute violent criminals, and defunding the police. The Democrats’ sole focus on gun control ignores that 92% of violent crime has nothing to do with guns.
Republicans believe that Democrats either don’t understand what works or don’t really care about reducing crime.
Lott is the president of the Crime Prevention Research Center and the author most recently of “Gun Control Myths.” Until last month, Lott was the senior adviser for research and statistics at the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Policy.
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