COLUMBINE DIDN’T RESULT in meaningful gun control. Neither did the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and 19 others two years ago this month. Will the killings of elementary school children at Sandy Hook in Newtown, Connecticut, be the tipping point that yields meaningful gun control?
I predict that gun control—and gun rights—will stay in the public’s eye as a key values issue in 2013. The fear that real gun control legislation will pass has led many Americans to go on a gun-buying spree. And membership is up in the National Rifle Association. The NRA has not changed its firm Second Amendment arguments in the wake of the Newtown massacre.
Today, Joe Biden’s commission is expected to announce its recommendations, covering assault rifles, background checks, the capacity of magazine clips, and more.
In the realm of public opinion, Americans are not hopelessly divided when it comes to several gun control policies, according to results just released by Pew from a survey taken a few days ago. More than eight of ten Americans (85%) support background checks for guns sold privately or at gun shows. This would close the so-called “gun show loophole” that allows purchases without a background check. And eight of ten Americans also support preventing people with mental illness from buying guns. Support for these two measures is bipartisan.
Two thirds support the creation of a federal database to track gun sales, but Democrats (84%) are much more in favor of this measure than Republicans (49%). Majorities of both parties think it’s a good idea to put police or armed security guards in our schools, but there’s a gaping partisan divided when it comes to the idea of arming teachers or school officials. Over half of Republicans (56%) support this measure, but only 23% of Democrats do as well.
Majorities of Americans support bans on semi-automatic weapons (58%), assault-style weapons (55%), high-capacity ammunition clips (54%), and online sales of ammunition (53%). But Democrats are much more in favor of these bans, compared to Republicans.
Is meaningful gun control on your list of top values issues for 2013?
What else would you add to our 2013 list forecasting values issues?
Join us all week as we continue our annual OurValues.org tradition of predicting the top values issues of the New Year. Click here to see the 2012 Forecast.
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Originally published at www.OurValues.org, an experiment in civil dialogue about American values.