On April 17, the Senate defied President Obama's gun control ambitions by voting down new legislation that would expand background checks to gun shows and online sales. To say the least, this definitely surprised many Americans (myself included), especially with Obama's, "90% of gun owners favor universal background checks," remarks being repeated constantly by the mainstream media.
Upon closer investigation, the reasons gun controlled failed are more obvious than most people would think.
First, despite the "90%" emphasis, gun control is simply not a voting priority for most Americans. In fact, a recent Gallup poll shows only 4% of Americans think gun control is a high priority for America — down from 6% in February. As expected, jobs, the economy, and dissatisfaction with government took the top three spots on the list, respectively.
So with only 4% of Americans labeling gun control as a high priority, one would still think that with such overwhelming support, even from gun owners, universal background checks would ultimately clear Congress. But then again, the question begging to be asked is, do 90% of gun owners truly support universal background checks? According to polls conducted on some of the largest online shooting forums like AR15.com and MDshooters.com, the answer overwhelmingly is no. In Maryland alone, when new gun control legislation was being debated, pro-gun Marylanders sent over 1,000,000 e-mails to Maryland legislators opposing the new legislation. This is in addition to phone calls and personal appearances. Whether or not the Quinnipiac University poll is flawed or was improperly conducted is hard to say, however, it is clear that the majority of gun owners do not support universal background checks.
While polls may be skewed or miscalculated to some degree, one thing remains certain — gun control is bad for reelections. In 1994, after the recent passing of the assault weapons ban, Democrats lost their 50-year reign in the House of Representatives and the majority in the Senate. Fast forward to 2013, with gun sales at record highs and SCOTUS cases like Heller and McDonald reaffirming the Second Amendment, there is not doubt 2014 elections are on the minds of everyone in Congress.
Another issue facing gun-control advocates, and one that is hard to quantify, is that many Americans recognize when legislation and rhetoric is being pushed based on emotion. There's no arguing the events in Colorado and Connecticut catapulted gun control to the front lines of Congress, which is understandable. However, the America people are going to expect legislation that will help or reduce or prevent events like Newtown from occurring — which is the exact opposite of last week's legislation would do.
Gun control is a multifaceted and complex argument that will likely plague Congress until the end of time. With so many polls, statistics, and emotions being thrown around, it's no surprise little is done in the long-run. As I have said in previous articles, the only way meaningful gun-control legislation will ever pass both houses of Congress will be if both sides can come to the table open minded and swords sheathed. Officials will also need to set aside their emotions and be willing to look at the facts, not fiction. If both parties can abide by these rules, logical and effective gun control will be possible while still preserving the second amendment and easing fears of government registries and confiscation.