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7 Responses to Democracy. Ugh. (In Which @varadmehta Tweets Guns)

  1. Oscar Gordon says:

    This is the issue, most people are woefully ignorant about firearms, as are most pollsters, & this is reflected in both tge questions asked & answers provided.

    Perhaps we should form policy for cancer treatments based on popular polls.

    • aaron david says:

      That’s how we got the ACA.

    • Brandon Berg says:

      Not just guns. Voters are ignorant on almost all political issues. In general, people learn what they have to learn to get through the day, and there’s virtually zero overlap between this and the knowledge that’s needed to make informed policy decisions.

  2. Michael Drew says:

    It’s not really that incoherent not to know, in an applied way, that handguns are largely semiautomatic. As Oscar says, this reflects a degree of ignorance about these products, and I would say even more specifically about the terminology used by the industry and consumers to describe them. We could say that the public is completely nuts for wanting semiautomatics but not handguns banned, or we could assume they have a basic idea of what they want banned, but don’t always corruptly recall what the “correct” terms for what they’re thinking of when called by pollsters with no notice in the middle of helping kids with math. If I had to guess, I’d guess that what people have in mind when they say they want semi-automatic weapons banned is that they want assault-style semi-automatic long guns banned when there’s not a particular reason for a person to have them. BUt it’s hard to be sure. Maybe the polling should be more description-based rather than industry-term based, and dig a little deeper into the questions rather than just come away with a seemingly self-contradictory set of preferences and then from there just call the public incoherent.

    It might well be that what the public wants may not be good policy. I.e., an assault weapons ban ma be nearly pointless policy, at least compared to an all-out confiscation plan for all, as they seem to suggest on the surface, semiautomatic weapons. But that doesn’t make the view incoherent. It makes it a preference for a policy that may not have a lot of efficacy for a particular end.

    • Michael,

      I think there’s a lot of truth to this:

      We could say that the public is completely nuts for wanting semiautomatics but not handguns banned, or we could assume they have a basic idea of what they want banned, but don’t always corruptly recall what the “correct” terms for what they’re thinking of when called by pollsters with no notice in the middle of helping kids with math.

      I think there’s also a lot of ignorance/incoherence, too, but there’s also the phenomenon you’re describing.

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