Is a middle ground on guns emerging? It just might be.

April 16, 2013

A majority of Americans believe it is possible to make new gun control laws without interfering with the right to own firearms, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, a finding that suggests there may be a middle ground emerging when it comes to the right response to the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut.


Guns

Fifty-five percent of respondents say new gun laws could be instituted without impinging on the 2nd Amendment right of gun owners. That includes 50 percent of those who themselves own guns, 58 percent of people who have a gun owner in their home and, not surprisingly, 60 percent of people who have no guns in their homes.

The findings contradict long-held conventional wisdom regarding the politics of guns that is premised on the idea that people -- particularly those who support gun rights -- view it as an all or nothing issue. That is, supporters of gun rights view any attempt to limit or curb those rights as the first slip on a slippery slope toward the seizure of all firearms by the government.

To be clear, differences remain between those who own guns and those who don't when it comes to the issue. While a majority of the public (52 percent) says that the priority should be "enacting laws to limit gun violence" rather than "protecting the right to own guns", fewer than four in 10 (37 percent) of gun owners agree that putting more gun laws on the books should be the priority.

And, the devil -- as always -- is in the details when it comes to these touchy political subjects. While majorities express belief in the idea that new gun laws need not necessarily interfere with the rights of gun owners, it's not clear whether that support would stay at similar levels if the specifics of new laws were laid out.

But, the Post-ABC data coupled with the widespread support for expanded background checks -- an amazingly rare 90 percent issue -- suggest that an issue that has always been cast in black and white terms might be growing more grey, politically speaking.

All of the above doesn't mean the gun control bill is headed to easy Senate passage. It is not. But it does suggest that the coverage of how the public feels about the right role for guns in society may be too simplistic and missing some of the nuance in how people regard the issue.

“We still do not know who did this or why:" President Obama addressed the nation from the White House briefing room Monday about the bomb blasts at the Boston Marathon that killed at least three people and injured more than 130 others. “We still do not know who did this or why, and people shouldn’t jump to conclusions before we have all the facts,” Obama said just after 6 p.m. on Monday. “But make no mistake: We will get to the bottom of this,” and whoever is responsible “will feel the full weight of justice.”

Federal authorities were treating the explosions as a terrorist attack. Stay tuned to Washingtonpost.com for the latest updates.

"Gang of Eight" delays immigration news conference: Because of the situation unfolding in Boston, a bipartisan group of senators is delaying a Tuesday news conference scheduled to unveil a sweeping immigration reform measure. The group still intends to file the bill on Tuesday but will hold its news conference on another day.

The new proposal provides a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, aims to stem the flow of undocumented immigrants into the country by creating tens of thousands of new visas for foreign workers in low-skilled jobs, and spends billions on new border security measures, according a 17-page summary obtained by The Washington Post.

Fixbits:

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) will vote against the Manchin-Toomey gun compromise, a setback to its chances of passage. Here's the latest vote tally.

Some senators labeled the Boston bomb explosions a terrorist attack.

Security was beefed up in the Washington area after the bomb blasts in Boston.

The Boston explosions caused Massachusetts Senate candidates to suspend their campaigns.

Former congressman Anthony Weiner (D) said in his first TV interview since resigning from Congress that he will decide soon about whether he will run for mayor of New York City.

Elizabeth Colbert Busch focused on jobs and economic development during remarks at a D.C. fundraiser Monday.

Curtis Morrison, one of the two men accused of recording a private conversation at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's campaign office, started a legal defense fund.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) raised nearly $2.3 million in the first quarter.

Former South Dakota governor Mike Rounds (R) raised just $184,000 for his Senate campaign.

Former Republican senator Dick Lugar will be knighted.

Must-reads:

"In Boston attack, a reminder of the difficulty in foiling terrorist plots" -- Scott Wilson and Peter Finn, Washington Post

"Republicans embrace Obama’s offer to trim Social Security benefits" -- Lori Montgomery, Washington Post

"Gun Legislation Fate Rests With Few" -- John Gramlich, Roll Call

"With Grandchild and Library, a New Chapter for Bush" -- Peter Baker, New York Times

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Sean Sullivan · April 15, 2013