After a month of reported congressional movement on gun control, negotiations have apparently hit a snag.
Democratic senators have decided to break up proposals into different packages – such as Senator Dianne Feinstein’s push for an assault weapons ban – instead of presenting one “Obama gun package”.
And, unsurprisingly, Republicans and Democrats can’t seem to agree on what parts should make up a background check bill.
On the surface, this seems like Washington dysfunction at its worst, especially since the percentage of Americans who want tougher gun control has stayed at its post-Newtown high: a majority still wants a ban on assault weapons, although legislation on that has pretty nearly no chance of passing through Congress.
Over 80% of Americans do agree on universal background checks, including a majority of Republicans.
But a deeper look at the numbers suggests that gun rights advocates may be playing a stronger hand than at first glance.
1. Most Americans don’t see gun control as the most significant way to prevent mass shootings
Per a Public Religion Research Institute poll, only 25% of Americans believe that stricter gun control laws and enforcement would be the key to preventing massacres. That was second to mental health screenings, at 30%, and just ahead of moral and religious teaching, at 20%.
Even when we expand the issue out to allow for multiple answers, as CBS News did, only 21% think that stricter gun control would prevent gun violence by much. Almost half, 46%, think mental health screening would help a lot, while 36% think armed guards in public places would be most useful.
2. Guns as a whole are not at the forefront of issues for most Americans
Only 4% of Americans listed guns as the most important problem facing the country in the latest CBS News poll. Instead, over 50% chose the economy, jobs or the budget deficit. That matches other recent polling, and the recent focus on the sequestration illustrates this data.
You might say, “Of course, the economy is the No 1 issue for Americans – how could gun control come close?” And I’d agree: if gun control were really at the top of the heap, I’d expect it to be polling higher. During the healthcare debate of 2009-10, for instance, healthcare regularly broke the 20% barrier in polls on the most important issue in the US.
Post Continues: Americans Don’t Want Gun Control Enough – Business Insider.