All of those new restrictions are on President Barack Obama's list of proposals for legislation in the wake of the 12/14 massacre of first-graders and educators in Newtown, Connecticut. And all of them are ferociously opposed by the National Rifle Association, the gun industry's mouthpiece.
So one might expect "President Obama" to be the obvious answer of the majority to Quinnipiac's question: "Who do you think better reflects your views on guns, President Obama or the National Rifle Association?"
But 46 percent of respondents answered the NRA and only 43 percent said Obama. True, that difference is just barely more than the margin of error, but it still indicates a major disconnect between what the majority of Americans believe should be done to restrict guns and how they perceive the views of the nation's premiere gun lobby.
Which means that gun-control activists need to turn up the juice to ensure that the majority of Americans actually know where the NRA stands and what it has done over the years to defeat sensible new restrictions as well as undermine existing laws while simultaneously bellyaching about how existing laws aren't being enforced.
There is some encouraging news, too. A survey by Public Policy Polling showed this week. A plurality of respondents—39 percent—said they would be less likely to vote for a candidate endorsed by the NRA vs. 26 percent who said they would be more likely to do so. “Politicians really don’t have to be scared of the NRA,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. “Voters consider its support to be a negative thing.”
That good to hear. But, there's a caveat. National polling papers over the fact that congressional elections are by districts, and in some suburban districts Democratic politicians may still have reason to be scared of the NRA if they—and we who support more gun restrictions—don't repeatedly make clear exactly how extremist and out of step with the majority the gun lobby is.
Not least in that effort to inform Americans should be pointing out how the NRA has worked diligently to weaken gun laws and opposed any attempt to boost the ability of the Bureau of the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to enforce existing laws. While NRA million-dollar-a-year executive vice president Wayne LaPierre and others have insisted gun laws don't work, they fail to point out that many problems with enforcement of such laws stem from NRA lobbying and funding of its puppets in Congress.
That's a message that needs to be hammered into public consciousness daily until polls show no disconnect between what Americans think the NRA is about and what is really on its agenda.