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By Huge Magin, NH Wants Assault Weapons Ban

At the risk of violating my New Years resolution to wean myself from constantly looking at polls (I've avoided going to firethirtyeight and realclearpolitics all month), I feel compelled to note some polling data on gun control in New Hampshire. 

Channel 9 ran with it last night and I assume the print media has followed suit today, so the results are out there. 

Ah yes, page 2 of today's Union Leader, a four column headline, "NEC poll: Majority in NH support assault weapons ban".  The paper thought the story was so important that lead (?) reporter John Distaso was given the assignment.  My only quibble would be that, from the numbers, the headline probably should have been "Huge Majority" but then, as I recall from my headline writing days, such things are often decided by the amount of space available to fit the words in, and Distaso does manage to work "large majority" into his lead sentence.

I only mention it here to point out that no matter how many emails elected officials receive on a given issue (HB 135, the so-called stand your ground repeal has generated more than a thousand and counting), the best indicator of public sentiment most likely remains polling data.

Any group can flood the email lines or a hall of people, but that's hardly a scientific survey.  Thus, if you want to legislate by following public opinion (I've never been afflicted by that disease), looking at polls is probably better than looking at emails or the number of people who sign in for a given bill.

Note that this polling data from New England College is not about HB135 or stand your ground, but I assume that most people who showed up on that issue Tuesday would be in a severe minority in this polling data.

Here's how huge the numbers are.  72 percent of those polled (656 registered voters, a rather substantial sample) favored and only 24 percent opposed a so-called assault weapons ban.  Another way of saying that would be, by nearly a three to one margin NH voters support the ban.

It's even greater for the idea of universal background checks.  the margin is nearly nine to one (88 percent in favor; 10 percent opposed).

Men favored the assault weapons ban 64-34 while it's 80-16 percent for women, no real surprise there.

It would be most interesting to see polling data on HB135, not that any of us ever consider polls when voting.  Do we?


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Reader Comments (9)

Steve, that poll is bogus, leading questions, no demographics, the inherent bias is obvious. Waste of space, but of course, the new Fascists LOVE to quote polls they spin up.
January 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSeth Cohn
This poll does not pass the sniff test...

The questions were leading, they don't specify what an "assault weapon" is, the poll didn't confirm that their respondents aligned with known demographic info (how many Democrats vs Republican were called, age of respondents, % of gun owners, etc) -- and admitted to being so lazy as to not care: "The numbers of voters in support of universal background checks are so high as to make demographic examination worthless." There's also no mention of where they got their phone lists, or what wording was used leading up to the poll questions.

The Poll Director is a town selectman in Reading, MA, and goes by the twitter handle "@Progressiveman" He's not exactly what one would call an unbiased poll taker.

And in my experience, most Granite Staters do not want these kind of restrictions on guns, even those well to the left of center. If the poll were 51%-49% it might possibly be believable, but 72% is pretty obviously rigged or outright fabricated.


January 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGraham Nadig
This is why one's rights are specified in the constitution and are not subject to the popular vote. Everyone who would support an "assault weapons" ban, has no idea what they are talking about because there is no such thing as an "assault weapon". All they mean is "big, scary gun". There are no particular features in the rifles they are talking about banning that make them any less suitable for self-defense than others. Even if one were inclined to trample on the rights of others there is no benefit to the ban, as crimes are very rarely committed with rifles.

It is fortunate that the NH Constitution is even more explicit about our rights to defense (and offense) than the US Constitution. Part 1 article 2-a states in its entirety:

All persons have the right to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves, their families,
their property and the state.

Part 1 article 10 is very similar to the Declaration of Independence, but shorter:

Government being instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security,
of the whole community, and not for the private interest or emolument of any
one man, family, or class of men; therefore, whenever the ends of government
are perverted, and public liberty manifestly endangered, and all other means of
redress are ineffectual, the people may, and of right ought to reform the old, or
establish a new government. The doctrine of nonresistance against arbitrary
power, and oppression, is absurd, slavish, and destructive of the good and
happiness of mankind.
January 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRep Dan McGuire
So, I'm still trying to find out why it takes a constitutional amendment to curb America's thirst for alcohol, but only legislative sausage to enforce certain prohibitions against an enumerated right. Any of those advocating for such have an answer, yet? Seems I have left a dangling participle ...
– C. dog baiting bunnies into snares
January 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterC. dog
C.dog -- I have an answer, as if you care. The Second Amendment guarantees gun ownership which is "...well regulated..." That's why those two words are in there, and the Courts have determined that gives US -- our community, our government -- the right to have some limitations on the kinds of weapons that may be owned, and the regulations under which they may be owned.

However, and as a strong supporter of the Second Amendment I'm pleased about this: gun ownership cannot be prohibited entirely. Just as you can own a knife, you can own a gun. So, you're well protected by our Constitution.

And I am too.
January 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJim Splaine
It is incorrect to interpret "well regulated" in such a manner.

Does it really make sense to you that, in a document putting unprecedented restrictions on government, the authors of the second amendment meant "subject to a myriad of laws, restrictions and other administrative limitations?"

In fact, the meaning of that phrase comes from its use at the time it was written. The now-former Colonials had just defeated the British Empire's Regular Army largely with unregulated Militia (not to ignore some considerable assistance from the French Regulars). This left them with a sense of what was needed for a Militia force to be effective in the defense of the nations or, more applicably, in revolution.

Johnson defines "regulate" as 1. to adjust by rule or method or 2. to direct. While the term could apply to the law, it certainly does not automatically refer to a legal interpretation as it would today (unless you're an engineer). Instead, the meaning of the term regulate when applied to armies refers to training, supplies, uniforms and the like - not laws and rules.

Looking at the 2nd Amendment, the language makes much more sense putting it into this historical context. The Colonial rebellion just succeeded using militia troops against the most powerful, most modern army in History. But Ethan Allen and Francis Marion did not beat the British by fielding an army of farmers with pitchforks. They fought with volunteer riflemen who were a match for, if not superior to, the British professionals they faced. So how do you make sure we retain that advantage into perpetuity? Ensure that no government can take away the right of each individual, each potential future militia member, to have weapons and to learn how to use them.

In other words, while a Militia is necessary for a Free State, it is not sufficient. It must also be a "well-regulated" Militia. And how do you accomplish this seemingly contradiction in terms? You do not infringe upon the right of the people to arm and train themselves.

At this point, you can also answer the question of why the original authors of the 2nd Amendment didn't simply write "No gun laws (period)" They were concerned that someday, someone might say that the "right to bear arms" was simply for hunting, or competition, or a hobby. Yes, we have a right to gun ownership for these reasons, as well as for self-defense, but this right is so much more important than that. The very preservation of freedom, they said, depends on the ability of individuals to own arms and knowing how to use them.
January 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrian Seaworth
Actually, Jimmy –
There are no enumerated powers of the Grate State to curb said second amendment in Uncle Sammy's rule book, so any such travesty defaults to the lil' states. And suprise, suprise, I find no limits in New Hamster's rule book, not even a mention of an unruly, rag-tag militia. Might want to mull that one over, a bit, Jimmy, and get back to us when the DNC has its answer. And don't forget those pesky articles 7 and 10 when doing so – seems to be a bit seditious rather than obsequiously "progressive".
– C. dog only communes voluntarily, and preferably in groups of three
January 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterC. dog
My role here was primarily that of reporter.

Let's agree that the poll is off somewhat. Let's say it's off by a whopping 20 points. It still shows overwhelming suport for the two questions asked. You can say we shouldn't legislate by polls...I agree with that...you can even pooh pooh polls, but you can't totally ignore them when they disagree with your point of view.

If we're going to revolt against slavish government doctrines, I'd prefer to do it on something that really matters to more people...like the write to smoke a joint, to go 75 on the highways, to decide when to end your own life, to marry whomever I choose. I could think of many, many causes to rebel against; this item would be much lower on my list. As for Jefferson calling for us to shed the blood of patriots every generation, I tend to agree, but unfortunately TJ didn't agree with himself--he forced the embargo act on the public during his second administation and then jailed those who disobeyed. Where was the right of revolution there??
January 28, 2013 | Registered CommenterRep Steve Vaillancourt
Good points Steve, with one caveat: we should not be piling on constitutional transgressions at this point, but rather peeling off layers of accumulated detritus by enabling:
1. School choice
2. Private property, including: ones body, what one puts in said body, guns and all other toys, R/E without the Busybody Boreds handing out permission slips of what you can/can't build, etc., etc.
3. Elimination of non-constitutional agencies of the State, starting with the most worthless, e.g. Dept. of Cultured Affairs, ludicrous licensing borers, and the Lilac Lady. Doesn't matter if they amount to much or not, the fact that they exist is a slap in the face every time they are funded.

P.S. Though you can't drive 65 (like lil' Sammy Hagar), there is no constitutional right to drive faster unless you do so quietly while enjoying a tour of your estate.
– C. dog
January 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterC. dog

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