A Gallup poll was released on Wednesday that shows that fewer people are now supporting the ban on assault weapons in the U.S. In fact, it hit a record low of 36 percent. The number of those that oppose the ban is at 61 percent, the highest ever recorded. Interestingly, there is a mixed number of both Republicans and Democrats that oppose bans on assault weapons.
Just 50 percent of Democrats currently support the ban today, compared to 63 percent support from Democrats in 1996. Less than 33 percent of independents support the ban, while around 25 percent of Republicans support it. The Gallup survey also found that 45 percent of households without guns support the ban, compared to 26 percent support among households with guns.
Assault weapons were used in both mass shootings and terrorist attacks, including the terrorist attacks in San Bernardino, California, and Orlando, and the mass shootings in Aurora, Colorado, and Newtown, Connecticut. Considering this, it is ironic that an opposition toward this ban has increased. The Gallup poll called this a paradox, but is it a paradox at all?
Gallup incorrectly defined and summarized their definition of assault weapons in their opening paragraph of their poll summary. They said, “The fewest Americans in 20 years favor making it illegal to manufacture, sell or possess semi-automatic guns known as assault rifles.” The terms “assault weapon” and “assault rifle” are neither synonymous nor interchangeable.
A Google search will reveal: Like the majority of firearms sold in the United States, the AR-15 is semi-automatic. This means it fires one round each time the trigger is pulled. The AR-15 can fire between 45 and 60 rounds per minute depending on the skill of the operator. So-called assault weapons are not machine guns or assault rifles.
Assault rifles have been heavily regulated in the U.S. since 1934. In 1986, the new manufacture of these types of guns for non-military use was banned. Under current law, civilians may only own assault rifles made prior to 1986, if they possess a special tax stamp issued by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). These stamps cost hundreds of dollars, require extensive background checks, and take months (if not years) to be issued by the ATF.
Back in 1994, Congress passed a federal assault-weapons ban that lasted 10 years. Experts who have studied the law tend to agree that it had too many loopholes and was ineffective at lowering gun violence. One problem of the 1994 law was that there was no accepted definition of what constitutes an assault weapon.
Under the 1994 law, a semi-automatic rifle unjustly became a banned assault weapon if it had any two of the following five cosmetic features in addition to a detachable magazine: a collapsible stock, a pistol grip, a bayonet mount, a flash suppressor, or a grenade launcher.
In truth, none of those features mattered in terms of defining how lethal a weapon is or its functionality. It wasn’t difficult for gun owners to alter their guns to become compliant with the 1994 law. Those who supported the law said that when the law expired in 2004, it would be followed by a crime wave that would be fueled by crime wave. That never happened, in fact, the exact opposite happened.
Gallup using “paradox” is not justifiable. Americans are fully aware of the intentions of terrorists and that there is not a law in place that will stop their thirst for American blood. Terrorist have proven they can effectively carry out their attacks without guns. The terrorist in Nice, France used a truck to murder and injure dozens of people before opening fire. 29 people were injured when pressure cooker bombs detonated in New York City in September 2016.
Paradox? Americans know that tougher gun laws will not stop violent criminals or terrorists but what they will do is make it more difficult for law-abiding Americans to protect themselves from these very people.