Opinion

Gun control widely disfavored in recent poll

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Bob Barr
Former Congressman (R-GA)
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      Bob Barr

      Bob Barr represented Georgia’s Seventh District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003. He was known as a staunch advocate for limited government and individual liberty --- passions which continue to be the hallmark of his post-congressional work as a practicing lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia, and as a widely-read and listened to public speaker and columnist. His reputation in support of individual privacy earned him the moniker “Mr. Privacy” from the late New York Times columnist William Safire. Bob has published three books, including one that recounts his leadership in the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton, “The Meaning of Is.” Bob also teaches a course on constitutional law and public policy at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School and serves as Chairman of Liberty Guard, Inc. a non-profit and non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting individual liberty.

If anyone in the Obama campaign is considering using gun control as an issue in next year’s campaign, the Republican Party should encourage them with a sizable donation. The latest national-issues poll from the Gallup organization confirms what Barack Obama’s two unsuccessful predecessors found out the hard way — a strong majority of American voters do not favor gun control and will prove it with their votes.

The Gallup survey reflects not a sudden spike in support for firearms rights, but rather the culmination of a generational effort by the National Rifle Association and other organizations to reacquaint Americans with the Constitution.

For example, a half century ago, according to a 1959 survey, more than half of all citizens — 60 % — supported an outright ban on handguns. That sentiment led to Congress passing the first national gun control law of the modern era in 1968. That act, however, served as a wake-up call to millions of Americans who understood that the right to keep and bear arms — enshrined in the Bill of Rights as the Second Amendment — protected a fundamental right, but one that clearly was susceptible to being undermined by politicians.

Now, according to the Gallup poll, a record-low percentage of Americans — just 26% — support a handgun ban, while nearly three-quarters (73%) oppose such a measure. The survey also found that more than half the population — 53% — opposes more restrictive laws against semiautomatic firearms and so-called “assault weapons.”

Ownership of firearms is rising as well — among those who identify themselves as Democrats as well as Republicans. According to the survey, nearly half of all Americans (47%) say they have a gun in their home. This represents a six-point jump from just one year ago, and is the highest since the mid-1990s. The partisan divide on the issue is steadily shrinking, as 55% of Republicans and 40% of Democrats (up eight points from 2010), acknowledge having a firearm in their home.

Numbers such as reflected in this non-partisan Gallup survey essentially guarantee that any attempt this cycle to move the electorate based on a “gun control” agenda would be suicidal — particularly considering the flack the Obama administration continues to receive over the botched ATF operation commonly known as “Fast and Furious.”

Such broad opposition to gun control, however, has not prevented political leaders at the local level from trying to deny citizens within their jurisdictions the full benefit of the Second Amendment’s guarantee. And it is not only New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg who is involved in such efforts.

Anti-gun political leaders in the District of Columbia and Chicago, for example, continue to undermine the two most recent Second Amendment decisions by the United States Supreme Court, decisions that denied those very governments the authority to stop citizens from possessing firearms for self-defense. Those landmark cases — District of Columbia v. Heller in 2008 and McDonald v. Chicago in 2010 — established that gun bans in both jurisdictions were unconstitutional.

Thus, while gun control at the national level may be a moribund campaign issue, at least for the time being, anti-gun politicians like Mayor Bloomberg and other Second Amendment opponents such as leftist filmmaker Michael Moore will continue their tirades through the media and in local political venues.

Those of us who believe in, support and understand that the Second Amendment guarantees a fundamental, human right to possess the means to defend oneself also cannot forget that public support waxes and wanes, and that we cannot rest on the laurels of today’s polls.

Bob Barr represented Georgia’s Seventh District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003. He provides regular commentary to Daily Caller readers.