Gun politics after Parkland

IN THE months since a teenage gunman slaughtered 17 people at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in February, a student-led campaign has organised two mass walkouts from schools and country-wide demonstrations. On May 4th, President Donald Trump and Mike Pence, the vice-president, will appear at the National Rifle Association’s annual convention in Dallas—suggesting the politics of guns in America has shifted little since the protests. But there are reasons to believe the newly energised movement for gun control is having an impact. Polling suggests that an increasing proportion of Americans believe laws covering the sale of firearms should be made stricter: 67% in March, up from 47% in October 2014, and the highest level since 1993, according to Gallup. But the issue has become less pressing for voters than it was immediately after the Florida shooting. A poll by Marist College in April found the percentage of respondents who said a candidate’s position on gun control would be a major factor in how they vote fell from 59% to 46% between February and April. Get our daily newsletter That is in line with earlier shooting tragedies, in which Americans quickly returned to their earlier positions. And even when the will for change is there, it may make little difference to policy-making. Most Americans support background checks for all gun-buyers and a majority want a ban on assault weapons; neither has been introduced. Pew Research suggests even the majority of gun owners backed a federal database to track […]

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