Pew, Pew, Pew Poll:
The public’s attitudes toward gun control have shown only modest change in the wake of last week’s deadly shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. Currently, 49% say it is more important to control gun ownership, while 42% say it is more important to protect the right of Americans to own guns.
This marks the first time since Barack Obama took office that more Americans prioritize gun control than the right to own guns. Opinion was evenly divided in July, following a shooting at a Colorado movie theater. At that time, 47% said it was more important to control gun ownership, while 46% said it was more important to protect gun rights.
However, support for gun control remains lower than before Obama took office. In April 2008, 58% said it was more important to control gun ownership; just 37% prioritized protecting gun rights.
The problem here is that there are more than two options. By presenting this survey as either/or they basically cram the answers into either “gun control” or “no gun control”. The range of options is much broader than that.
At one extreme we have people who want to totally ban private gun ownership – no guns at all and trust the police to protect us. At the other extreme are the nutjobs who think they should be allowed to own machine guns, tanks and cruise missiles. Arms are arms, right?
Then there is the rest of us, scattered in between those two points.
The fact is we already have gun control. There are thousands of laws and regulations on the books regulating the manufacture, importation, sale, transfer, transportation, storage, use, and ownership of guns and ammunition. Everybody (except crazy people and criminals) wants to keep guns away from crazy people and criminals.
Most people don’t have a problem with reasonable restrictions on guns. The issue is what is “reasonable?” Are the laws and regulations we already have reasonable? Do we need to tighten the ones we have? Do we need to add new ones? Reasonable people can disagree.
If and when there are specific proposals on the table we can evaluate them. Until then these discussions are a lot of sound and fury, signifying nothing.