[OPINION] Poll: A majority of Americans believe gun control is more important than protecting right to own guns

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THE philosophical question is again being made the center of the ongoing debate involving our rights and liberties in America.

This comes amid the escalating number of mass shootings and massacres of people, including many children in schools, perpetrated by civilians using high powered guns intended to be used by military men in the battlefield. What is more important now: the right to own gun or the need to control gun ownership?

Let us rephrase the question. What is more important to you? The right of people to life and to be protected from gun violence by legislating more stringent gun control laws? Or the right to own guns, and as the powerful and moneyed gun lobbyist the National Rifle Association (NRA) would argue — legislation, regulations and restrictions to gun ownership are “continuing the assault on our Second Amendment rights”?

A Pew Research Center survey conducted in September and released this week revealed that a majority of Americans (53%) believe it is more important to control gun ownership, while 47% say it is more important to protect the right of Americans to own guns.

The support for stricter gun laws has been escalating as more and more people are being massacred by civilians who should have never been given access to guns at all. So many senseless deaths could have been avoided if only people in government, especially our representatives in Congress, would honor the oath they took to serve the American people instead of their own political interests.

The percentage of Americans who favor stricter gun laws is on the rise, though significant partisan divisions persist. As National Public Radio (NPR) reported, “60% of Americans say gun laws should be tougher, up from 57% last year and 52% in 2017.”

Other industrialized countries have already made a stand to prevent these senseless deaths by legislating and implementing stricter gun laws and have saved lives as a result.

And yet here in the United States, people in Congress remain beholden to the NRA, which has been shelling out a lot of money to fund the campaigns of politicians, especially the candidacy of former President Donald Trump.

Trump had despicable audacity to reject gun control at the NRA conference in Texas in the wake of the killings of 19 school children ages 9 to 11 and two teachers by an 18-year old boy, who is not even allowed to drink, but was able to buy high powered guns that he used to massacre the victims in a school in Uvalde, Texas on May 24, 2022.

Days before the study was released, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a package of 15 bills related to gun violence prevention.

“It’s not about solving individual problems, it’s about changing the dynamic, changing the trend lines,” Newsom said as he signed the bills, the NPR report stated.

“Despite growing national support for stricter gun laws, such legislation still generates controversy. One of these bills, AB 61, is facing criticism from both the National Rifle Association and the American Civil Liberties Union for expanding California’s red flag law. It will enable employers, co-workers, employees and teachers — not just family members and police officers — to seek gun violence restraining orders from people they see as posing a potential threat.”

The ACLU believes this law “poses a significant threat to civil liberties” and has voiced concern that people in this expanded category may lack “the relationship or skills required to make an appropriate assessment.”

The Pew Research Center study showed that “men are more likely to favor protecting gun rights, while women are more likely to favor controlling gun ownership”.

But what is truly consistently striking amid all the mass shootings in America year after year is the partisan divide.

More Pew Research study findings, as reported by NPR, revealed that:

“While a solid majority of Americans favor stricter gun laws, support remains split down party lines. Eighty-six percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents said gun laws should be stricter than they are today, compared with 31% of their Republican counterparts.”

Large majorities of Democrats and Republicans somewhat or strongly support barring people with mental illnesses from purchasing guns, as well as making private gun sales and sales at gun shows subject to background checks. But when it comes to banning high-capacity ammunition magazines and assault-style weapons, the parties diverge: Nearly 9 in 10 Democrats favor each of these proposals, compared with roughly half of Republicans.

Gun control remains at the forefront of the national conversation in the wake of several mass shootings in the past two years, including those in Las Vegas; Sutherland Springs, Texas; Parkland, Fla.; Pittsburgh; Thousand Oaks, Calif.; Virginia Beach, Va.; El Paso, Texas; Dayton, Ohio; and Midland-Odessa, Texas.

The number of states with red flag or extreme-risk laws, which allow courts to order the seizure of firearms from those believed to pose an imminent danger to themselves or others, has increased since the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 people dead and 17 others injured. Before Parkland, only five states had red flag laws. By August 2019, 17 states and the District of Columbia had adopted them.

What happened to the red flag laws which, according to an APM Research Lady survey has a widespread national approval? The survey revealed that “77 percent of Americans supporting family-initiated extreme risk protection orders and 70 percent in support of those initiated by the police”.

The report further stated that even people who generally oppose gun control might favor red flag laws because they are temporary and specific, based on the statement of Cassandra Crifasi, deputy director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research.

Protection orders “take guns out of the hands of those who should not have them without infringing on the rights of law-abiding gun owners,” Dr. Mark Rosenberg, who oversaw gun violence research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as NPR reported.

So when will our elected representatives in Congress listen to the voices of the people? When will they act to save lives from gun violence and go beyond giving their hypocritical thoughts and prayers when they had the chance and the obligation to do it for years and do NOTHING?

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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

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Gel Santos Relos has been in news, talk, public service and educational broadcasting since 1989. She was a news anchor, TV host and radio commentator and public service host for ABS- CBN and DZMM. She is now working on her advocacies independently, serving the Filipino audience using different  media platforms. You may contact her through email at [email protected], or send her a message via Facebook at Facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos. Also on Twitter, Instagram: Gel Santos Relos


Gel Santos Relos

Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to www.TheFil-AmPerspective.com and www.facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos

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