In last week's Liberty Update, we highlighted the Heritage Foundation's 2022 Index of Economic Freedom…
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Image of the Day: More Economic Freedom = Higher Standard of Living

In last week's Liberty Update, we highlighted the Heritage Foundation's 2022 Index of Economic Freedom, which shows that Joe Biden has dragged the U.S. down to 22nd, our lowest rank ever (we placed 4th in the first Index in 1995, and climbed back up from 18th to 12th under President Trump).  As we noted, among the Index's invaluable metrics is how it demonstrates the objective correlation between more economic freedom and higher citizen standards of living, which this graphic illustrates:


May 19, 2022 • 12:53 PM

Liberty Update

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Poll: Support for Gun Control Falls to Record Low Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, October 27 2011
This week, Gallup…released a survey showing that public support for stricter firearms laws has fallen to a record low.

Not all current societal trends are negative, although it’s often easy to overlook that fact. 

Moment by moment, federal spending heaps another mountain of debt upon us.  Civic virtue appears increasingly rare, as public discourse becomes increasingly lurid.  Meanwhile, the Obama Administration plumbs new depths of economic illiteracy, and the not-unrelated epidemic of “Occupy Wall Street” hordes ooze a sense of entitlement and demand something for nothing. 

Nevertheless, it’s important to maintain a sense of optimism and recognize positive trends.  After all, our generation’s most beloved conservative, Ronald Reagan, relied largely upon an unrelenting sense of optimism and sunny demeanor in building his legacy. 

This week, Gallup provided cause for such cheer when it released a survey showing that public support for stricter firearms laws has fallen to a record low. 

In 1959, when Dwight Eisenhower was still President, Gallup first asked Americans the question, “Do you think there should or should not be a law that would ban the possession of handguns, except by the police and other authorized persons?”  Believe it or not, respondents that year favored a handgun ban by a 60% to 36% margin, almost two-to-one.  It wasn’t until 1968 when the public evenly split on the question, but at no time since that date have more Americans favored than opposed a handgun ban. 

This year, opposition to a handgun ban reached a new high of 73%, and support for a ban reached a new low of 26%. 

More broadly, support for firearm restrictions in general also fell to a new low.  Gallup asked respondents, “In general, do you feel that the laws covering the sale of firearms should be made more strict, less strict or kept as they are now?”  Only 43% favor stricter firearm sales restrictions as a general proposition, whereas 55% prefer that such laws become less strict or remain as they now stand. 

That is a significant reversal over just the past two decades, as a surprising 78% of Americans favored stricter gun laws as recently as 1991. 

Additionally, a 53% to 43% majority of Americans also oppose a ban on so-called “assault” rifles: 

“For the first time, Gallup finds greater opposition to than support for a ban on semiautomatic guns or assault rifles, 53% to 43%.  In the initial asking of this question in 1996, the numbers were nearly reversed, with 57% for and 42% against an assault rifle ban.  Congress passed such a ban in 1994, but the law expired when Congress did not act to renew it in 2004.  Around the time the law expired, Americans were about evenly divided in their views.” 

Also by a record margin, Americans today prefer “that the government enforce existing laws more strictly and not pass new laws (60%) rather than pass new gun laws in addition to stricter enforcement of existing laws (35%).”  Moreover, increased opposition to firearm restrictions is not limited by region, gender or political preference.  Rather, as summarized by Gallup, “All key subgroups show less support for stricter gun laws, and for a ban on handguns, than they did 20 years ago.” 

Humorously but perhaps unsurprisingly, Gallup struggles to explain the results of this year’s survey: 

“This is the case even as high-profile incidents of gun violence continue in the United States, such as the January shootings at a meeting for U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona.  The reasons for the shift do not appear related to reactions to the crime situation, as Gallup’s crime poll shows no major shifts in trends in Americans’ perceptions of crime, fear of crime, or reports of being victimized by crime in recent years.  Nor does it appear to be tied to an increase in gun ownership, which has been around 40% since 2000, though it is a slightly higher 45% in this year’s update.  Perhaps the trends are a reflection of the American public’s acceptance of guns.  In 2008, Gallup found widespread agreement with the idea that the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right of Americans to own guns.  Americans may also be moving toward more libertarian views in some areas, one example of which is great support for legalizing marijuana use.  Diminished support for gun control laws may also be tied to the lack of major gun control legislation efforts in Congress in recent years.” 

With distrust of government reaching record highs, it defies logic to claim that Congressional gun control legislation would somehow generate popular support.  And to correlate increasing respect for Second Amendment rights with some sort of new marijuana tolerance sounds like something out of “Occupy Wall Street” itself. 

The more likely explanation is that decades of experience have demonstrated the truth of Professor John Lott’s adage “More Guns, Less Crime,” and that Americans trust the Founding Fathers and the liberties they enshrined in the Constitution more than bureaucrats who seek to restrict the rights of everyone but themselves. 

Whatever the explanation, we should recognize and be thankful for this remarkable social trend. 

Quiz Question   
How many days does it take the average U.S. household to consume as much electrical power as one single bitcoin transaction?
More Questions
Notable Quote   
"Lawmakers continued to raise concerns about the Internal Revenue Service at a Congressional hearing this week as the agency deals with billions in misspent dollars, hefty processing backlogs, and complaints over poor customer service.Lawmakers lobbed questions at the tax-collecting agency during the House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee hearing.'The program has an annual improper payment rate…[more]
—Casey Harper, The Center Square
— Casey Harper, The Center Square
Liberty Poll   

Should any U.S. government agency have a function called the "Disinformation Governance Board" (See Homeland Security, Department of)?