A new Washington Post/ABC News poll asked respondents, “Would you support or oppose a law requiring background checks on people buying guns at gun shows?” To understate matters, the results were one-sided.
If you’re having trouble making out the details, the poll found that 91% of Americans support the background checks. That includes 95% of self-identified Democrats, 91% of self-identified independents, and 87% of self-identified Republicans. What’s more, this is broadly consistent with other independent polling in recent months.
It’s worth emphasizing, in case it’s not immediately obvious, that this kind of near-unanimity is extremely unusual in contemporary American politics. As partisan polarization has grown more intense in recent years with the Republican Party moving sharply to the right, the number of policy issues, especially involving hot-button controversies like gun policy, that enjoy 91% support has dwindled to an extremely small number.
Put it this way: support for expanded background checks is greater than support for monotheism and capitalism.
The timing of the poll is fortuitous for its proponents: the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to debate a bill today that would “broaden the requirement for federal background checks to nearly all firearms purchasers.”
The NRA is already lobbying against the proposal – remember, the NRA supported universal background checks as recently as the 1990s before changing its mind – and a majority of congressional Republicans are expected to oppose the idea.
We talked last week about the collapsing talks to craft a bipartisan plan to close the gun-show loophole, and for now, there’s been no progress towards a resolution. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is still leading the charge on background checks, but his GOP colleagues remain unwilling, at least for now, to sign on to the effort.