A new poll (PDF) released yesterday by Washington CeaseFire, a statewide organization dedicated to reducing gun violence, finds 76 percent support for tighter gun laws.
The poll found 66 percent support (54 percent strongly) for banning semi-automatic assault weapons, 66 percent support (55 percent strongly) for limiting ammunition clips to 10 bullets, and an overwhelming 87 percent support (76 percent strongly) for closing the "gun show loophole." Respondents also support mandatory penalties for youth firearm possession (69 percent) and tighter controls on issuing concealed weapons permits (66 percent).
The poll of 600 registered Washington State voters was conducted January 3-7 by Alison Peters Consulting, and has +/- 4 percent margin error.
So what does this mean? In Olympia, not all that much. Thanks to Rodney Tom's personal ambition, the Senate Law and Justice Committee has been put in the hands of NRA-endorsed Senator Mike Padden (R-Spokane Valley), and with it the ability to block all proposed gun control legislation. Of the reforms tested in the poll, the only one with a chance of making it through Padden's committee this session is a bill imposing mandatory penalties for youth firearm possession. Tough on crime! Yay! Even Republicans can get behind that.
Under current state law, a mandatory penalty is not triggered until the fifth youth firearm offense. A politically pragmatic Washington CeaseFire has made this one doable reform its legislative priority for the current session.
But where this poll might have a bit more impact is in the coming debate in the US House over President Obama's proposed new gun regulations. In past decades, Washington Democrats outside of largely urban districts have been loathe to show support for gun control, but this poll might help stiffen their resolve. Perhaps even Republican Dave Reichert might even be swayed, coming as he does from a profession with a long history of strongly supporting tighter gun laws (I vaguely remember him telling us that he was once a sheriff or something).
Either way, with a state poll like this matching national polls on the issue, it's now absolutely clear that local voters want legislative action. Whether our lawmakers will have the NRA-bucking balls to give it to us remains to be seen.