A new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll gauging American political sentiment ahead of the impending midterm elections found that only 42 percent of respondents are “bothered a great deal” or “bothered quite a bit” by attempts to tighten gun laws.
That’s a lower share than the 77 percent who said they are bothered by political divisiveness; the 65 percent bothered that minorities and foreigners are being made to feel unwelcome in the United States; and the 65 percent bothered by coarse language and behavior in public life.
It’s not surprising that worries about gun grabbing have ebbed since the 2016 campaign, during which the NRA spent record sums to stir fears of new gun laws should Hillary Clinton win the presidency and Democrats claim the Senate.
With Congress, the White House, and a majority of state capitals in the hands of Republicans, the next 18 months are likely to see more efforts to weaken gun laws, rather than to enact new restrictions.
The poll indicates that the role of guns in America continues to be of high interest to many voters. Thirty-five percent of respondents said that gun rights or gun control are “important enough to have an impact on how you vote in election.” That is a higher percentage than said the environment, immigration, or abortion was important enough to influence a vote.
Respondents were roughly evenly split between support and opposition to new “gun control” — although, as The Trace reported two years ago, surveys that ask about the catch-all term “gun control” suggest more opposition to firearms laws than polls that ask about specific policies. Polls typically find that half of Americans may be more concerned with gun rights than gun control in the abstract. But when narrowed to laws like universal background checks, many gun regulations enjoy broad support, including from a majority of NRA members and gun owners.