Thursday, March 1, 2018

March for Our Lives; Will Florida Make a Difference?

Will the mass shooting in Florida change the politics of gun control? It may, but the track record is very mixed. After the elementary shooting in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012, no gun legislation passed the U.S. Senate. Colorado, however, passed gun control laws in 2013, and became a test case of the proposition: Can gun control start at the local level and go national? The answer turned out to be no.

Democrats, having taken over both houses of the Colorado legislature and controlling the governorship, rapidly passed a background check and limit on magazines in the 2013 legislative session. But, gun supporters, aided by the National Rifle Association, struck back by instigating two recall special elections against senior Democratic state senators, and they won. The recalls had a chilling effect on gun control legislation, not only in Colorado, but throughout the country.

National and local polling shows the public is mostly favorably disposed toward a number of specific gun control measures, even while they support the Second Amendment. A recent Colorado poll by CU shows a majority of the public favors increased gun control by 59 percent to 37 percent, but that there are significant partisan differences.

National surveys that ask if the public supports or opposes stricter gun laws often record a divided response, with a modest majority favoring stricter laws (CNN, stricter laws 52%, Oct. 15, 2017; Gallup 60%, Oct. 11, 2017; Quinnipiac 59%, Dec. 18, 2017). However, when specific laws are proposed, support can reach more than 9 out of 10 people, for example, 95 percent support background checks for all gun buyers (Quinnipiac, Dec. 18-20, 2017).

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