Eye-opening events in Boston caused shift in gun control support

A poll by USA Today published Tuesday shows support for the most recent attacks on the Second Amendment is gradually slipping – something the paper blames on an inattentive American public and the distraction of the Boston Marathon bombings.

The idea that weakening gun rights never had real support to begin with doesn’t seem to be a possibility.

The story’s lead sentence tips its hand:

“Four months after the shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School, a USA TODAY Poll finds support for a new gun-control law ebbing as prospects for passage on Capitol Hill seem to fade.”

photo credit: CNN.com
photo credit: CNN.com

Note the cart-before-the-horse  perspective: Support fades as the possibility of passage fades.

That’s not quite the way things work. In a democracy, “prospects for passage on Capitol Hill” are pretty much dependent in the end on the support an idea has among the voting population. So support doesn’t drop as political momentum slows, it’s the other way around.

But to admit that would be to admit that the famous “90 percent of Americans” our president seems to think agree with him on gun control was actually a mirage in the first place. (Unless you think 90 percent of Georgetown or New York’s Upper West Side means 90 percent of Americans.)

USA Today makes no secret of its liberal preferences on issues like health care, the economy and the Second Amendment – or it tries to and does it very badly – so a poll by the paper that finds its preferred position in trouble is pretty instructive.

Then there’s the Boston Marathon, and this quote in the story, attributed to political analyst Stuart Rothenberg:

“It wouldn’t be shocking if people sitting in their homes in Massachusetts cities and towns thought to themselves, ‘Boy, I wish I had something to protect myself with if a terrorist came through the door now.'”

That’s something “90 percent”of Americans really would agree on.


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