Troubling Public Opinion Trends for Gun Rights and Civil Liberties



bill-of-rightsOn how to respond to mass shootings and violent crime, the public opinion trends frighten me, especially when broken down by political identification. Predictably, Democrats are in favor of gun control by wider margins than Republicans. But still, 92% of Republicans favor universal background checks, which I consider as bad a proposal as any being offered. It will mean the death of gun shows as we know them. The relative freedom with which Americans privately trade firearms is one of the greatest spheres of liberty in the country, something that sets the United States apart from most places. Ninety-one percent of the population wants to abolish the freedom (independents being slightly more reluctant than either Democrats or Republicans to support such a measure). This would be the most significant strike against gun rights, and one of the most important violations of the Bill of Rights in general, in modern times.

One theme I try to focus on in these discussions is how gun control is merely one of many core elements of the police state, and that those who oppose criminal justice and police abuses should be more skeptical of gun laws, and those who favor the right to bear arms should be much more skeptical of militarized policing, prosecutorial shenanigans, the prison system, the drug war, and so many other heavy-handed government measures that contribute to violent crime and boost the rationale for gun control. It never made sense to me that those who favor gun control would decry racism in the courtroom and those who see gun rights as a bulwark against tyranny would deny the pervasiveness of police brutality.

Well, for once, at least these poll results enjoy some internal consistency. 63% of Republicans want to see 15,000 more police on the streets. Not to be outdone, 81% of Democrats back the same proposal.

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