Gallup has a new poll indicating that the common sense of the American people is not yet aligned with the common sense of President Obama:
To Stop Shootings, Americans Focus on Police, Mental Health
Democrats substantially more likely to see assault gun ban as effective
However, I want to flag the dismally worded question from Gallup which asked whether people thought a ban on "assault or semi-automatic guns" would be effective.
But "semi-automatic weapons" is a much broader category which includes semi-automatic handguns, i.e., most handguns sold in America today.
Did respondents understand they were endorsing a ban on semi-automatic handguns and calling for a return to The Great Equalizer? The design of the question surely steered people towards rifles in their answer, so I would resist interpreting this result to indicate broad support for a semi-automatic handgun ban.
For example, "Banning handguns" got 5% support in a Gallup poll after the Gabby Gifford shooting in Arizon, which involved a semi-automatic handgun.
And the text of the latest Gallup result does seem to conflate "assault weapons" and "semi-automatic weapons". For example:
The biggest differences between Democrats and Republicans are on the banning of assault weapons -- 61% of Democrats rate it as very effective vs. 26% of Republicans -- and spending more on mental health actions -- 67% of Democrats say it would be very effective vs. 35% of Republicans.
Huh? As best I can tell, there is no separate question about banning just "assault weapons". Yet that is how Gallup chose to describe their own question.
On the other hand, Chris Matthews wants to ban semi-automatics and seems to grasp that this includes handguns:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: It's not hopeless, though. You talk about the Second Amendment. Look, in 1934 we had Machine Gun Kelly and all the guys out in Chicago. We had the whole Prohibition era encouraging a certain kind of crime; rum-running, etc. Here's the question. Back then, Congress had the guts to outlaw automatic weapons, machine guns, basically they did. Heavily regulated. Heavily regulated. Almost to the point you don't find them around. Here's the question: why can't Congress do the same thing to semi-automatics? I know we've got millions of them, whatever. Can't we start to regulate? We don't have to regulate a shotgun or a regular pistol with a revolver or anything. But if you go into the semi-automatic level, why don't we say, that's like the automatic weapon.
I am not sure what Gallup thought they were asking or what respondents thought they were saying. Which is great - we are having a national debate in which most of the media and much of the public literally don't know what the words mean.
I know we all eagerly await the results of the Gallup poll on banning "high magazine clips". If Obama proposes it, I will support it, but I want to hear him say it first. On national television. With a teleprompter.