A poll published on Wednesday by ABC News showed that despite a rash of high-profile shootings, 53% of Americans reached in the survey opposed a ban on assault weapons.
That was the highest percentage in 20 years of the poll. Just 45% per cent of respondents said they supported the ban.
The latest Democratic gun-control push in Congress is essentially a renewal of the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban under President Bill Clinton.
At the time, ABC’s poll found that 80% of Americans were in support of the ban.
Over two decades later, as mass shootings happen at a reported rate of over one per day, support on banning assault rifles has apparently eroded.
Critics argue that an assault-weapon ban would be an ineffective fix to the mass-shooting problem, and that the definition of an “assault weapon” is superficial rather than substantive. But gun-control advocates argue that a ban would limit the mass-killing potential of shooters.
“Assault weapons are designed for the sole purpose of killing as many people as quickly as possible,” Rep. David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island), a sponsor of the assault-weapon ban bill, told The Hill. “We need to do everything we can to reduce the toll of gun violence by keeping these weapons out of our communities.”
Obama renewed his call for new gun-control measures after the San Bernardino, California, mass shooting earlier this month, in which the shooters used AR-15 assault rifles to kill 14 people.
The ABC poll found a possible explanation for why the public isn’t moved by such killings: People no longer trust the government to thwart lone-wolf attacks.
ABC’s polling data showed that just 22% of respondents felt confident in the government’s ability to protect them from lone-wolf shooters, such as Charleston’s Dylann Roof, or Adam Lanza of Sandy Hook. In contrast, 77% per cent of respondents said they felt the government cannot protect them.
The same poll also found that only 42% per cent of respondents felt that stricter gun control was a “better way to respond to terrorism,” while 47% felt that more citizens legally carrying guns was the proper solution.
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