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New 'assault weapon' poll gives new reason to be glad US is not a 'democracy'

The other side's problem is our hands--they're not cold and dead
The other side's problem is our hands--they're not cold and dead
Photo © Oleg Volk. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

According to the latest from the Rasmussen Reports polling and media company yesterday, 59% of likely voters in the U.S. favor "a ban on semi-automatic and assault-type weapons." As has been noted here and elsewhere before, it is often vital to ascertain the exact wording of the questions asked in such polls before concluding that the results actually offer a useful measure of public opinion on the issue in question.

The question in the Rasmussen poll at issue here is pretty straightforward:

Should be there be a ban on the purchase of semi-automatic and assault-type weapons?

Not much to complain about there, in terms of any blatant attempt to steer the answers though the wording of the question.

The problem is that after decades of media-abetted ignorance on the part of the public, no such steering is needed for the public to be utterly baffled at the difference between semi-automatic and "assault-type" weapons on the one hand, and fully-automatic machine guns on the other. This has, in fact, been a long term cynical strategy of anti-gun groups (and their mass media allies), as National Gun Rights Examiner David Codrea notes in a direct quote from the rabidly anti-gun Violence Policy Center's executive director Josh Sugarmann:

The weapons' menacing looks, coupled with the public's confusion over fully automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons--anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun--can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons.

Sugarmann wrote that in 1988, but now, a quarter of a century later, Codrea notes that the strategy is still bearing fruit for the anti-gun zealots, thanks as always to a complicit mass media.

Fortunately, the questions of what the polls indicate about public opinion, and how well informed that opinion is, are largely moot. That's because in a republic, and not a "democracy," the rights of 49% of the population are not to be held hostage to the whims of the other 51%, or indeed the rights of 33% to the whims of 59% as claimed by Rasmussen, or even 0.01% to the whims of the other 99.99%. Constitutionally guaranteed, fundamental human rights cannot be made subject to a popularity contest, or they are no rights at all.

As this column has observed more than once, this distinction between republics and democracies is something that the forcible citizen disarmament jihadists would prefer to ignore. The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence has gone so far as to claim that it's "something only far right wing American gun nuts obsess on." Who knew that John Adams was a "far right wing American gun nut?":

Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide. It is in vain to say that democracy is less vain, less proud, less selfish, less ambitious, or less avaricious than aristocracy or monarchy. It is not true, in fact, and nowhere appears in history. Those passions are the same in all men, under all forms of simple government, and when unchecked, produce the same effects of fraud, violence, and cruelty.

The public can vote to ban so-called "assault weapons" if it wants. A majority can even vote to confiscate those we already own. They need to remember, though, that to paraphrase Mike Vanderboegh, even after the polls close, the armed citizen still gets a vote. That would be a very ugly campaign, and one that the pro-forcible disarmament camp would lose--badly.

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