A new Elway Poll released this week shows that legislative priorities among Evergreen State voters are taxes, education and the economy, while gun control and crime are barely a blip on the radar screen.
Yet in Olympia there are looming threats of more attempts at gun control, including an effort to dismantle state preemption, a law that gun rights advocates say has served the test of time and maintained uniformity of gun laws statewide. Gun control may be an important issue with some people, but it is not a consensus topic, Seattle-based independent pollster Stuart Elway suggested via telephone.
According to the new polling data, only 2 percent of the state’s voters rate gun control, crime, drugs and public safety as priorities. The Seattle Times reported on this Friday.
Balance that against the top five issues identified by party and there is a considerable disparity between what most voters see as important and what some lawmakers apparently believe. The Washington Legislature convenes Monday in Olympia.
Among Democrats, education is the top priority (39%), while health care and the economy are tied for second place (24%), taxes are a priority for 23 percent and homelessness comes in at 20 percent.
Republicans, meanwhile, say taxes are their top issue (31%), with education running second (27%) and the economy third (25%). Coming in behind are transportation (19%) and state spending (16%).
Among Independents, education is also on top (29%) but it is tied with the economy and taxes (29%). Transportation comes in second (21%) and homelessness trails (20%).
The Elway Poll has earned a reputation for accurately reading the public mindset in Washington State. So this new poll result could easily raise questions about Democrats who sponsor gun control or outright gun ban legislation being out of touch with voters. That also goes for state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who has pushed for a ban on so-called “assault weapons” despite the fact that rifles of any kind are used in a fraction of this state’s homicides.
Also being discussed is a bill that would ban bump stock devices, which have been around for a while and until last October’s tragic mass shooting in Las Vegas had never been an issue. There are probably thousands of those accessories in private hands, and only once have they been mentioned in connection with a crime.
When more than 80 people were killed by a terrorist in Nice, France driving a stolen semi-truck through a crowd 18 months ago, no Washington Democrat proposed banning large trucks. Before that and since then, there have been other fatal vehicle attacks including one in New York City last fall, so the selective attention being given bump stocks by politicians all over the map is at best suspicious.
Across the country, gun owners will tell you one thing is most important to them: They simply wish to be left alone. They are tired of being demonized for crimes they did not commit, and penalized with restrictions that would not prevent those crimes in the first place.