The TCPalm, published by Treasure Coast Newspapers in Stuart, Fla., is running an online poll that asks readers whether they would support or oppose a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would “end the sale of semi-automatic rifles,” and the results Friday morning were staggering.
They were apparently also skewered, according to a contact at the newspaper, because the poll was “hijacked” by some pro-gun groups. The newspaper is apparently planning to publish an article about this on Sunday. Originally published Wednesday, over the next 48 hours the opposition came in at 96.35 percent, and those in favor of a ban amounted to 3.43 percent. No legitimate survey ever produced that kind of result.
When it posted the poll, TCPalm acknowledged up front that, “This is not a scientific poll.”
The survey opened up the proverbial “can of worms” on several levels:
- Should the constitution be amended to ban the sale or possession of so-called “assault weapons?” It is a subject certain to elicit polarized reactions, and not always in a civil tone. Since the mass shootings in San Bernardino, Orlando, Las Vegas and more recently Parkland, there have been calls for at least “tighter restrictions” on sales and ownership of semi-auto rifles, especially those designed on the AR15 platform.
- Should gun owners “hijack” such online surveys to skew the results? Gun rights activists have long complained that opinion polls about Second Amendment issues often seem biased against gun ownership. Many argue that they have never been part of a survey about guns. So, when an opportunity presents itself, they go for the jugular. But is that fair and does it result in an accurate reflection of the issue?
- Are semi-automatic modern sporting rifles (MSRs) protected under the constitution? When the Second Amendment was ratified, it was customary for members of a militia to show up at formations with guns and ammunition (in those days, powder and ball) supplied by themselves. They brought their own guns. In today’s environment, and by today’s standards, would that not logically apply to a semi-auto rifle? Granted, the MSR is not an “assault rifle” except in the minds of those who don’t know a thing about firearms.
- Have too many people lost perspective about the Second Amendment as a fundamental, constitutionally delineated right? Many believe having guns should be tightly regulated, requiring permits and lengthy processes. But wouldn’t that essentially turn a right into a regulated privilege?
As Congressman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) once observed, “The Second Amendment is treated as a stepchild in constitutional juris prudence.” And on a different occasion, he asked during a hearing, “Is there another constitutional right that we treat the same way for American citizens that we do the Second Amendment?” Gowdy is a former federal prosecutor who rose to prominence during the Fast & Furious hearings before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
Fox News is reporting that the Parkland school shooting has sparked a “wave of state level gun reform efforts.” Second Amendment activists contend that this term is is misleading, because it’s not “reform” that is being discussed, but gun control.
According to Fox, “In total, 35 states are considering bills that would alter their gun laws. Most of them would expand regulations on firearms, although a few would loosen them. More than 100 bills that would directly impact gun laws have been introduced in the current legislative session. At least a dozen have been proposed in the weeks following the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida last month.” Add to that the newly-announced initiative campaign in Oregon to ban so-called “assault rifles” and threatened initiative action in neighboring Washington.
Rep. Gowdy never really got an adequate answer to his question about whether we treat any other constitutional right the same way as the Second Amendment.
If there is ever to be a “serious dialogue” on guns, as gun control proponents continually demand, shouldn’t the answer to Gowdy’s question come first? And if that answer is “No,” then the next question should be “Why?”