Although many politicians, activist groups, celebrities and individual citizens have loudly called for tighter gun control measures in recent months, the American public does not seem to completely agree. In a new Washington Post/ABC News poll released Wednesday morning, Americans’ once near-universal support for banning assault weapons is now at a record low. Many Americans told pollsters that they do not believe the government can keep them safe in this day and age, especially when “lone wolf” incidents like the massacre in San Bernardino happen.
President Obama reiterated his request for a ban on assault weapons earlier this month, telling the American public that the country needs “to make it harder for people to buy powerful assault weapons like the ones that were used in San Bernardino.”
But, according to the new poll, only 45% of Americans want to ban such weapons, down from over 80% in 1994.
While a majority of Americans supported such a ban as recently as 2013, the support for a ban has steadily declined.
Pollster Gary Langer noted that, “The increase in opposition to banning assault weapons since 2013 peaks in some groups - up 18 points among strong conservatives, 17 points among higher-income earners and 16 points in the generally more liberal Northeast. But it’s a broadly based trend.”
A few groups still support a ban on assault weapons including women, African-Americans and Democrats.
To bolster the new poll’s conclusions, it is important to note that a recent New York Times/CBS News survey also found that a majority of Americans opposed an assault weapon ban for the first time in at least twenty years.
While much of the gun control publicity points to attacks where the assailants used assault-style rifles - and indeed such rifles were used in the San Bernardino attacks - most gun violence does not involve rifles of any kind.
Just over 50% of Americans in the New York Times/CBS poll told pollsters that laws generally governing gun sales should be stricter. This is in line with the 55% who supported tighter gun sales regulations as polled by the Huffington Post/YouGov.
In reaching its conclusions, the Washington Post/ABC poll questioned 1,002 adults from Dec. 10 to Dec. 13. Live interviewers polled participants on mobile phones and landlines.