Bans on AR-15s and similar firearms have continued to fall out of favor with the American public.
51 percent of Americans now oppose adopting a national “assault weapons” sales ban, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll released Monday. That’s a ten-point jump in opposition since the question was last asked in 2019. Only 47 percent said they support the policy. That represents the second-lowest level of support measured since the poll began in 1995.
Those who strongly opposed a nationwide ban also outpaced those who strongly supported it for the first time since 2015.
The results are just the latest to confirm a decreased appetite for the ban. At least three separate polls conducted in 2022 documented a decline in support for the policy, even in the immediate aftermath of the Uvalde school shooting.
The latest results arrive just one day before President Biden (D.) is slated to give his State of the Union Address, where he is likely to reiterate his support for an assault weapon ban. Biden has made an assault weapon ban one of his signature gun policy goals, and he routinely calls for Congress to pass a ban after every prominent shooting–a request his party delivered on in the House last year but not the Senate.
The polling results suggest the public is increasingly turning a deaf ear to those calls.
Pollster David Langer said the decline in support for the gun ban was “broadly based across groups” but could only speculate as to what was driving the drop in support.
“It would take a study focused in more detail on the issue to assess its reasons, but other studies provide clues,” he said in a statement. “In a Pew Research Center poll last year, the public divided on whether or not making it harder to get guns would reduce mass shootings.”
Beyond public opinion souring on the bans, the court system has also started to cast doubt on their constitutionality after the Supreme Court’s decision in 2022’s New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen. The High Court vacated a federal decision upholding Maryland’s assault weapons ban shortly after that ruling and sent it back down to the lower courts to be relitigated under the new standard it set. Since then, federal judges have blocked two local assault weapon bans in Colorado, and a state court blocked Illinois’ new ban.
However, that hasn’t stopped lawmakers in blue states from continuing to push for the bans. Illinois joined Delaware in passing the first statewide assault weapons bans in several decades when it adopted its version last year. Lawmakers are also considering new bans in Washington, Rhode Island, Colorado, and New Mexico this year.
Langer Research Associates conducted the ABC News/Washington Post poll by cell phone from January 27-February 1. It sampled 1,003 adults with a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.