Angus Reid released survey data today with a lot of questions on gun control and gun registry-related issues. I’m sure you’ll hear many of the usual c/Conservative suspects grab a few of the figures to support their talking-points. Indeed, they already are. But looking more closely at the numbers, and more importantly at the trend lines, show some interesting findings they’ll chose to ignore.
They don’t provide the trendlines directly, but if you pull-up the last gun study Angus Reid did in 2009 and compare the findings (the bulk of the questions are identical) some very interesting trends emerge showing the views of Canadians are trending toward greater measures on gun control. You also see some of the funny inherent contradictions that come with public opinion measurement.
For example, Canadians by and large agree gun violence is becoming less of a serious problem. Just 28 per cent called it serious, down by six points, while 42 per cent called it moderately serious, down by four points. Some 23 per cent said it was not too serious, a rise of eight points.
You’d think with that trend, people wouldn’t favour stricter gun control measures. But they do. When asked if they’d favour a complete ban on handguns in Canada, nearly half, 49 per cent, said yes it would be justified, while 39 per cent said it would not be justified. Again, besides the near majority, the interesting thing here is the trends: support for a ban was up three points, and more strikingly opposition to a handgun ban was down by seven points.
Which brings us to the infamous gun registry. One question you’re seeing be latched-onto is if the registry has been successful or not fighting crime. Just 13 per cent said it was (up two) while 43 per cent said it wasn’t (down four) and 20 per cent said it had no effect (down three). Those are interesting results, particularly when compared to the complete ban results. Do they mean many want the government to go further because the registry hasn’t been effective enough, or scrap it all together because it’s ineffective? Probably both, but it’s impossible to say with the available data.
On support/oppose scrapping the long gun registry, the figure you’ll hear most is that 44 per cent support scrapping it, while 35 per cent oppose it. That those numbers aren’t more wide given the opinion on its effectiveness shows that some simply want a more effective registry. And again, here, the trend is telling. Support for scrapping the registry has dropped by seven points since last November, while opposition is up by one point. Which means some former registry opponents are on the fence, and support for scrapping the registry is on the decline.
Finally, going further than just a handgun ban, Angus Reid also asked if it should be legal or illegal for ordinary Canadians to own firearms all together. In a reversal from last year, a plurality of Canadian (45 per cent) said it should be illegal, and 40 per cent said it should stay legal. Illegal was up by six points, while keep it legal declined by seven.
So, look at the numbers and the trends in totality and what can we take away? Canadians are increasingly favouring stricter gun control, not looser. Support for scrapping the registry is declining, and support shouldn’t be taken as a condemnation of gun control.
Finally, a few things are often overlooked by the pundits and the media around this issue. They paint it as a rural/urban thing, which is fair enough. But while they spend much time on how this could impact rural voting, they ignore how it could impact urban voting. We have the registry now, and I’d argue this issue has largely been factored into rural voting patterns. Urban, though, is a different story. How many swing urban soccer mom votes who have gone Conservative during Harper’s sweater vest era (and moved seats) would flip if he succeeds in killing the registry and is seen as soft on gun control? Those are swing seats at risk, while the votes they’d gain are in rural ridings they probably already hold.
Also, look at the regionals and you’ll see opinions in Quebec are quite staunchly anti-gun. Some 76 per cent of Quebecers view gun violence as very or moderately serious, 54 per cent support a handgun ban, 54 per cent would make gun ownership illegal, and 51 per cent oppose scrapping the gun registry.
A: Urban Canada. Quebec.
Q: What are two places the Conservatives can’t afford to lose support if they’re going to ever get a majority?
Were I an NDPer representing a riding like Outremont I’d be a little concerned here too.Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers