Will Tucson Shooting Spark a Call for Tougher Gun Laws? … Polls and History Indicate Tucson Shooting Will Not Change American Attitudes Toward Gun Control … But will the tragedy in Tucson change public opinion on gun control and bring a call for stricter laws? Polling and history indicate no. American support for stricter gun laws has steadily declined. A Gallup poll from last October reported that 44 percent of Americans said that gun laws should be tougher, a dramatic drop from 1990, when 78 percent of Americans said they supported stricter gun control. “The very substantial majority of Americans believe that the Constitution does provide for the right of gun ownership in this country, and most Americans don’t believe that availability of guns is the prime factor in gun violence,” said Gary Langer, of Langer Research Associates, and ABC’s longtime polling director. Heinous rampages like the one in Columbine in 1999 and at Virginia Tech in 2007 did little to change public opinion on the issue. No significant increase in the call for new gun laws followed these massacres. – ABC News
Dominant Social Theme: Ban guns. Ban them now. Ban all of them. They encourage violence.
Free-Market Analysis: For years, the Anglo-American power elite in our view has been trying to disarm America without success. The elite has tried to ban guns slowly; it has tried to ban guns fast. It has offered up, through channels, various interpretations of the US Constitution that attempt to show that people can only own guns if they are part of a state-run militia. Result: People organize militias. Guns in America are difficult to ban. They grow like Kudzu.
Every time there is a high-profile shooting, the argument rekindles itself. And sometimes legislation gets passed. Certain kinds of guns are now banned. Certain veterans cannot own guns. But nonetheless tens of millions own guns in America; there is in fact an American gun culture. It is a hunting and fishing culture; it also a culture of self-reliance. The chances of the elite achieving full gun confiscation remain slim in our view.
Yet upcoming efforts should teach us more about the current mood of the electorate and its relationship to the new Congress. Tea Party types helped turn out more than 50 (mostly Democratic) Congressional activists, and the mood of the country regarding this sort of legislation is questionable in our view. There is already pending legislation in the House of Representatives to further restrict the use of guns and certain kinds of gun paraphernalia. Much of this legislative activity is generated by Democrats, though at least one prominent Republican intends to introduce legislation as well. The Huffington Post reports the following:
Rep. Peter King, a Republican from New York, is planning to introduce legislation that would make it illegal to bring a gun within 1,000 feet of a government official, according to a person familiar with the congressman’s intentions. King is chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. The proposed law follows the Saturday shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and a federal judge that left six dead, including the judge, and 14 wounded. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, one of the nation’s most outspoken gun-control advocates, is backing King’s measure and is expected to put the weight of his pro-gun-control organization behind it.
This is very interesting. If both Republicans and Democrats in the House join together to create a new gun control bill, the chances are that some sort of gun legislation would move through the House sooner rather than later. And yet, as we mentioned above, the mood of the country is not apt to be especially generous to those who want yet more laws and restrictions. Significant gun legislation (or further free-speech restrictions for that matter) might well run counter to the overall mood of the electorate.
There is surely evidence of an anti-regulatory mood. Pima County Sherriff Clarence Dupnik’s over-the-top and nearly instantaneous linkage of the shooting to a larger vitriolic and anti-government atmosphere in the US has received plenty of pushback, even from his fellow officers. As we pointed in a previous article, the national sentiment is not necessarily receptive to the message and the rapidity with which it has again been disseminated is also off-putting to some. Fellow Arizona Sherriff Larry Dever has even criticized Dupnik publicly, as reported by CNS:
In reference to Dupnik’s remarks, Sheriff Dever told CNSNews.com by telephone on Monday, “His words sadden me. He and he alone can define what he meant, just as the shooter of Gabrielle Giffords and all the others he killed and injured can only answer for himself.”… [Meanwhile] Reuters reports that Sheriff Dupnik acknowledged that “there had been earlier contact between Loughner and law enforcement after he had made death threats, although they had not been against [Rep. Gabrielle] Giffords.” The sheriff’s department was aware that Loughner had been asked by police at a local community college to stop attending classes because of his odd behavior. Several of his fellow students expressed fear of him and said they believed he was unstable.
The speculation is that Dupnik has been so outspoken in part to deflect blame from his own department’s handling of Loughner. This has not gone unnoticed either, with several major publications noting that Dupnik’s office seems to have been fairly relaxed about applying laws already on the books to Loughner. There was this from the Wall Street Journal article on the subject, “Sheriff Dupnik would do far better to spend his time figuring out how Jared Loughner managed to buy a gun last November to commit his crimes. He apparently passed a federal background check solely because he had no prison record.”
We are not, of course, apt to endorse the regulatory procedures that the US has in place. Ultimately it is in an exercise in futility. In Britain, guns have been virtually outlawed as has fox hunting to the delight of many. But with the banning of guns came knife violence. And with the banning of knives, fisticuffs and beatings generally have become far more common from the standpoint of severe injury. Human beings fight and neither the statistics nor the injuries are probably going to change regardless of the weapon at hand.
The public preoccupation in the West, and especially in America, with gun control has far more to do, seemingly, with a desire of the elites to reduce the armed population in order to create a more docile body-politic – one that can gradually be funneled into an evermore globalized world order. But it really is not working very well. As we can see from an ABC news report we excerpted at the beginning of this article, support for gun control has dropped in America by nearly half – from 80 percent to 45 percent.
In times of crisis, various kinds of legislation does tend to get passed that might not stand a chance in other eras. Given that there may be a bipartisan consensus that can be reached between Republicans and Democrats, some sort of bill might move from the House to the Senate. But given the country’s larger mood, we would be surprised if the legislation went smoothly. The shooting was a tragic attack; the gun control battle that it is spawning may reveal a good deal more about the relationship of an alienated electorate to Congress than is presently visible.