I’m not sure what it will take to get the message across to members of the press that stronger weapons control has wide support, even among registered gun owners, but maybe this poll will help.
According to a CBS/New York Times poll conducted in the wake of the Newtown massacre, a strong gender gap exists in support for policy reform. Not only that, it’s a gender gap that also transcends party lines, lending even more support that the only people standing in the way of comprehensive reform of the gun industry is the gun industry itself.
And it’s not just one poll. It’s poll after poll after poll and they all show the same thing. As a matter of principle, women are more likely than men to support gun laws, and that’s before any specific reforms are described. The spread is as much at 14 points by some tracking for support for “more strict” gun laws generally with 61% of women favoring reform. The trend continues, if not widens, as specific reforms are mentioned. A ban on semi-automatic weapons, for example, shows a 20 point difference in support between men and women. Bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines show a similar difference.
In fact, the only place where men favor reform over women is on the issue of placing armed guards in every school and/or arming teachers and school staff with weapons. Women oppose armed guards at schools by smaller margins, but that gap widens considerably when the issue of arming teachers is raised.
What may be most interesting in this recent spat of polling is that this gender gap existed well before Newtown and while the original assault weapons ban was in place. Also, while the NRA may be trying to push the idea that women members matter, the reality is it’s an organization largely hostile to women. And women know this.
That suggests that the gender gap reflective in gun safety and weapons control is more about gun culture and patriarchy. If sensible reform is not a partisan issue for women, why is it for men? And why do men overwhelmingly resist these reforms? What is it they are trying so hard to protect?
When framed that way, the questions pretty much answer themselves.
Photo from Renee V via flickr.