“Assault weapons” bans are more unpopular than ever.
Support for the policy has now fallen below 50 percent, according to a poll from Quinnipiac University released on Wednesday. That represents a slight drop from the previous all-time low for the policy set in Quinnipiac’s June poll. It is the third survey from a prominent pollster to identify a drop in support for a ban after the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24th.
The ban still enjoyed a plurality of support, with 49 percent of those polled in favor while 45 percent were opposed. However, it is the only gun-control policy polled in the wake of the Uvalde shooting that has lost support even as support for tightening gun restrictions has increased.
The drop in support for the policy comes just before the House Judiciary Committee voted to advance an assault weapons ban for the first time in decades. The party-line vote sets up a showdown in the full House where Democrats are still scrambling to find enough votes to shepherd the ban through to final passage, according to Punchbowl News.
The drop in support for banning assault weapons, the definition of which varies from state to state where they’ve been implemented but always includes popular rifles like the AR-15 and AK-47, coincides with the increase in popularity of those firearms. The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the gun industry’s trade group, released an estimate on Wednesday that Americans own more than 24.4 million ARs and Aks. It found Americans bought more of the rifles in 2020, the most recent year examined, than any other year on record.
While the vast majority of the party appears to be on board with pushing the policy, the Democrats’ slim majority means they need near complete support from their own caucus. That may prove elusive. The momentum building against bans on AR-15s and other popular firearms has caused concern for at least some House Democrats.
“This is a bill that destroyed the Democrats in ‘94. I guess, do we really have a death wish list as Democrats?” Rep. Kurt Schrader (D., Ore.) told Politico. “It undermines what we already did and reemphasizes to all the people in America that are not hardcore urban Democrats that our party’s out of touch.”
But Democratic leadership has already made some progress among those who voted for the party’s magazine ban last month but haven’t signed on as co-sponsors of the assault weapons ban. Representatives Elissa Slotkin (D., Mich.) and Cori Bush (D., Mo.) appear to be on board now, with the latter voting for its passage in the Judiciary Committee and the former publicly endorsing the bill.
“[T]he congresswoman will vote for the assault weapons ban if it comes to the floor,” Austin Cook, Rep. Slotkin’s spokesperson, told The Reload.
That still leaves Democrats with another four votes to find if they don’t face any co-sponsor defections. Representatives Bishop (Ga.), Defazio (Ore.), Gonzalez (Texas), O’Halleran (Ariz.), and Thompson (Calif.) are the remaining Democrats who voted for the mag ban but haven’t taken a concrete position on the assault weapons ban. Reps. Henry Cuellar (D., Texas) and Jared Golden (D., Maine), who both voted against the magazine ban, have also gone on record opposing the assault weapons ban. Reps. Kind (Wis.) and Schrader (Ore.) are the other two Democrats who voted against the mag ban but haven’t taken a position on the assault weapons ban.
Then there are Republican representatives Fitzpatrick (Pa.), Jacobs (N.Y.), Kinzinger (Ill.), and Upton (Mich.) who voted for the mag ban but haven’t gone on record about whether they’ll vote for this ban.
Whether or not Democrats find the necessary votes to pass the assault weapons ban through the House, it is unlikely to make it through the evenly divided Senate. Republican Senator John Cornyn (Texas), who led his party’s side of the negotiations on the recent bipartisan gun bill, has repeatedly said Republicans would not support a ban.
“So-called ‘assault rifles’ are semi-automatic firearms,” Cornyn tweeted Thursday. “Firing mechanism essentially the same as a semi-automatic pistol and shotgun. They should be honest: Democrats want to disarm law abiding citizens while doing little about crime and undermining the police.”
The Quinnipiac poll surveyed 1,523 U.S. adults nationwide between July 14th and 18th. It has a margin of error of +/- 2.5 percentage points.