Gun-Control Momentum Fading Amid “Intensity Gap” Between Antagonists


Unlike the issues of immigration and gay marriage, where public opinion appears to be shifting in favor of the forces pushing for change, on gun laws the political effort is close to just falling flat, says the Philadelphia Inquirer. About 90 percent of Americans in opinion surveys want to strengthen background checks for gun buyers, but a critical mass of lawmakers from both parties remains opposed to expanded background checks, and bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines have already been declared politically unfeasible.

There isn’t a generational divide on guns, and it’s hard to think of an instance of gun-control advocates similarly punishing lawmakers who have stymied their work. “There’s no sense that the future is inherently a gun-control future,” said Michael Dimock of the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. When it comes to voting patterns, there has long been an “intensity gap” between supporters of gun rights and gun control, Dimock said.”To somebody who is a gun owner or feels strongly about gun rights, it is an extremely tangible issue,” he said. An owner might worry that background checks would get in the way of passing on a gun to a relative. Gun-control advocates haven’t built that kind of “single issue” passion. Their supporters often prioritize other concerns.

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