Rule Five Friday

2014_12_12_Rule Five Friday (1)This just in from Pew Research:  Growing Public Support for Gun Rights.  Excerpt:

For the first time in more than two decades of Pew Research Center surveys, there is more support for gun rights than gun control. Currently, 52% say it is more important to protect the right of Americans to own guns, while 46% say it is more important to control gun ownership.

Support for gun rights has edged up from earlier this year, and marks a substantial shift in attitudes since shortly after the Newtown school shootings, which occurred two years ago this Sunday.

The balance of opinion favored gun control in the immediate aftermath of the Newtown tragedy in December 2012, and again a month later. Since 2014_12_12_Rule Five Friday (2)January 2013, support for gun rights has increased seven percentage points – from 45% to 52% — while the share prioritizing gun control has fallen five points (from 51% to 46%).

This is interesting but not overwhelming?  Why?  Two reasons:

  1. The poll shows a tendency, but not an overwhelming one.  The number of survey respondees favoring gun ownership is only leading by six points.  The trend is interesting but not necessarily significant – at least not yet.  It’s a step in the right direction though.
  2. This is the primary one; public opinion polls are interesting, but not a good basis for public policy, even when we like them.  As an 2014_12_12_Rule Five Friday (3)Objectivist one should favor a scrupulous examination of facts, intelligently derived statistics and solid data.  Fortunately the facts favor the pro-gun side; look at any of the data following the passage of liberalized (in the classical sense) concealed-carry legislation.

For the last forty years or so gun control has been a highly partisan issue.  Democrats as a rule favor restrictions on guns, Republicans as a rule are against them.  There are exceptions but they are just that – exceptions.  But of late gun control has been a losing issue, politically, as three Colorado state senators here learned to their sorrow.  Even today, as the Democrats nationally are lurching to the left, there is still a solid leavening of older Truman Democrats in that party, blue-collar folks who own and use guns and don’t like seeing them messed with.

2014_12_12_Rule Five Friday (4)Zell Miller, one of the last true moderate Democrats, understood that.  Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi don’t.  That may be one of the reasons the Democrats self-destructed last election cycle, although in all candor it wasn’t a major issue.

Pew concludes:  In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

2014_12_12_Rule Five Friday (5)In other words, the fight will continue.  At the heart of it are these words:

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

It is plain language.  The Supreme Court has, in more than one case, ruled that yes, it does present an individual right.

So why are we still arguing about it?

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