Say the name Bloomberg, and most gun owners will think of billionaire New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, probably America’s richest anti-gunner and the guy who wants to tell you how big your soft drinks can be.
But he has a news service that actually has some good information, as in the case of a recent column by Yale law professor Stephen L Carter.
Carter notes that while the Newtown massacre was a publicity bonanza for the antis, that hasn’t so far translated into much movement in public opinion:
“In the USA Today-Gallup Poll taken just a week after the shooting, when one would expect the largest emotional effect, support for “more strict” gun control in the abstract was at 58 percent, compared with 43 percent about a year earlier. On specifics, 74 percent opposed a ban on private ownership of handguns, and 51 percent opposed a ban on private ownership of assault weapons. (There’s more support for posting armed guards in schools than for limiting access to assault weapons.)”
Why? Carter points out that trust in government is at a historically low level:
“The Gallup Organization has been measuring Americans’ trust in their government since 1997. Last year, only half of Americans said they generally trust the federal government to do the right thing on domestic policyâ€”a significant improvement over the 43 percent figure a year earlier, but nowhere near the heights of trust one saw in President Bill Clinton’s second term and President George W. Bush’s first.”
“‘Trust us, we’ll protect you,’ isn’t a very persuasive case to make to the tens of millions of Americans who have gunsâ€”often very powerful onesâ€”in their homes. And directing fury at gun owners for their lack of trust isn’t likely to increase their faith in government.”
Carter cites examples of the sort of unhinged rage being directed at us and concludes:
“What the polling data teach is that anger isn’t working. Most people are angry at the shooter and at society. They’re not particularly angry at supporters of gun rights.”
“Few groups this side of the now-moribund Moral Majority seem to excite as much ire and hatred among liberals as the National Rifle Association. Most Americans feel otherwise. In a Gallup poll released last week, the NRA received a 54 percent favorable rating. By comparison, as of this writing, the Real Clear Politics average of President Barack Obama’s approval rating stands at 53.4 percent. For Congress, the figure is an abysmal 18 percent. In other words: The NRA is as popular as the president, and three times as popular as Congress.”
“The Democrats, who read polls very well, have no doubt come to see that the firearms issue offers less political advantage than they’d hoped. In a Pew Research Center poll taken two weeks ago, respondents were asked if either party ‘could do a better job reflecting your views about gun control.’ Twenty-seven percent said the Republicans could; 28 percent said the Democrats could. The same poll asked about the influence of the National Rifle Association on policy. Some 36 percent said the NRA had too much influence, and 47 percent said the group had the right amount or too little.”
“These numbers suggest that directing hatred and invective toward either the NRA or the gun owners it represents is not, to say the least, a winning strategy. Nor should it ever be: In a democracy, invective is not a proper form of political argument”
One of the strongest weapons in our arsenal has always been the unbounded hatred directed toward us. It induces our opponents to overreach, and early leaks out of Vice President Joe Biden’s committee studying gun laws indicate the overreaching has started, as in a trial balloon that suggested retailers like Walmart would be enlisted to oppose private firearms sales. Let’s hope cooler heads don’t prevail.