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after san bernardino
Support for Assault Weapons Ban Reaches 20-Year Low

The New York Times report on its latest public opinion poll buried one of its most interesting findings: Support for one gun control measure has plummeted in the wake of the San Bernardino attacks. As Patrick Egan pointed out, just 44 percent of Americans now support an assault weapons ban, the lowest number in the 20 years that the NYT poll has asked the question. In 2011, 63 percent of Americans supported such a ban.

This isn’t the only trend that should give pause to politicians and commentators (like those who write the New York Times editorial page) who hoped that San Bernardino would finally prompt Americans to give up their gun obsession. Gun sales have reportedly soared in the wake of the tragedy, in part because of the outpouring of liberal demands for draconian gun restrictions.

Via Meadia doesn’t take any position as to whether an “assault weapons ban” (whatever that means) is good policy. But we do think that commentators who interpreted a jihadist attack as a gun control story were profoundly missing the point, and profoundly misinterpreting the American peoples’ historical relationship with the Second Amendment.

Since the founding, the right to bear arms has been understood by American Jacksonians not primarily as a practical tool for hunting and self-defense, but as a political safeguard against authoritarian movements that threaten American liberty. Almost two-thirds of Americans see gun rights as a protection against tyranny. The ISIS-inspired attacks in San Bernardino, therefore, cut to the core of what many Americans, rightly or wrongly, see as the overriding purpose of the Second Amendment. If gun control boosters were more in tune with the nation’s character, they would recognize that attacks by Islamic extremists are unlikely to win over many Americans to their cause.

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  • qet

    An assault weapons ban will be no more effective than a heroin or cocaine ban. The Left loves the first like the right loves the second because in theory it is possible to accomplish. There is no logical necessity why such bans cannot work. There is only the necessity revealed by experience. When pressed on this point, that in fact such bans are impossible, advocates retreat to a hazy empiricism that purports to quantify, mostly on the basis of assumptions, the number of deaths prevented by the formal ban. The Left just feels that guns ought to be banned and the right feels the same way about drugs, and both use various so-called “evidence” to convince themselves that they are really being good Enlightenment scientists. The difference is that there is not really a pro-drugs political constituency while there is a massive one for guns (and there was also one for alcohol in the 1930s).

  • Boritz

    Ask a liberal what is the greatest recruitment tool for Jihadis? Answer:  Guantanamo so close it.
    Ask the same liberals what is the greatest recruitment tool for expanding gun ownership? Well, certainly not liberal demands for gun control so double down.

    • FriendlyGoat

      This liberal thinks the greatest recruitment tool for Jihadis is NOT any action of the USA or any prison of the USA. This liberal thinks the greatest current recruitment tool of Jihadis is video replay or other retelling of the violent exploits of the Jihadis themselves. Every attack on the west, every beheading of an infidel, every stoning—–these are attractive to other would-be abusers just as one attacking pit bull can get other pit bulls to join in the blood frenzy.

      Likewise, the liberals’ requests for gun control ARE NOT driving gun sales. The news that “everybody else” in conservatism is buying an AR-15, or a CC Glock, or a “home-defense” shotgun ——is what is driving the trend forward.

      • juandos

        friendlygoat you just might have a point here but if my anecdotal experience is anything to go by (admittedly not much data) I think that the case of gun sales and Obama’s big mouth there might be a direct correlation…

        Two guys who are in the computer club I’m part of are owners of firearms stores – the stores are 30 miles apart…

        Both guys say that everytime Obama opens his mouth regarding or hinting at some sort of firearms control the two stores see a sharp spike in sales of all things firearms…

        In fact one of the gents says that since 2009 sales have been so good that he was able to buy the adjacent lot, tear down the existing buildings and put up a 12 lane indoor shooting range…

        It all seems more than just coincidence to me…

        • FriendlyGoat

          Do your two friends write thank you notes to Obama for prospering them? Do they praise him in the press for “making” their business?

          • juandos

            Do your two friends write thank you notes to Obama for prospering them? Do they praise him in the press for “making” their business?“…

            In a manner of speaking yes, they both have more money extorted from them by the government…

      • teapartydoc

        The first gun I ever bought was because of Clinton’s gun grabbing. Your theory is manure like you.

        • FriendlyGoat

          The first and last gun I ever bought (and still have) was during the Nixon administration. So what?

      • LosPer

        I make a point of buying a gun after every one of Obama’s major gun control pushes. And I name that gun after one of Obama’s family members. I am now looking at cousins…

        • FriendlyGoat

          I can’t help it that you apparently have more money to spend than sense about where to spend it.

  • CaliforniaStark

    What are termed “assault weapons” have become more mainstream, as Americans become more familiar with them. Civilians now own somewhere between eight to 10 million rifles that would fall under the classification of assault weapons. In many ways they have become the modern musket. At the same time, Americans now realize the government is incapable, and often appears disinterested, in defending them from attack by terrorists. Its understandable why weapons sales are now skyrocketing; and why 50% of the respondents to the NYT poll oppose a ban on the sale of assault weapons.

    • Jim__L

      Modern musket is right — the 2nd Amendment was intended to lay the ground rules for our government to respect every law-abiding citizen’s right to keep and bear *an infantryman’s weapon*.

      Making up scary names for these weapons is nothing but playing politics. Handguns are *far* more likely to be used in a crime, and most of those deaths are gangland shootings. There is no way Obama does not know this.

      Knives kill more people than these rifles every year. They’re being used in terrorist attacks too — is Obama going to ban knives next?

      You’re absolutely right that Obama is neither capable of nor interested in remaking our foreign policy to stamp out Islamic terrorism.

      We must make the Caliphate lose, and eliminate the will to fight in its foot soldiers. There’s really no other way.

  • Beauceron

    I think we are at the point where what most Americans think about any given topic doesn’t matter much to the elite.

  • Nevis07

    Here’s the thing, in ten years this debate will likely have completely changed. With the 3D Printers becoming more capable and their costs are coming down, people will be able to create their own guns – including assault style weapons anyways.

  • Chuck Pelto

    RE: As Heinlein Said…..

    The police should never be stronger or betterr armed than the citizenry.

  • bittman

    Americans are buying guns in order to protect themselves from evil Americans, evil government, and evil foreigners — some of which think they have a right to kill anyone who believes differently than they do.

    • LosPer

      You are delusional…

      • bittman

        The only delusional people are those who believe they will be able to throw the Second Amendment aside and take our guns away … and those who think we will allow them to kill Americans without fighting to our dying breath.

  • circleglider

    No one understands and does a better job of explaining America’s Jacksonian folk community than The American Interest and Professor Mead.

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