The tendency of all political analysts -- The Fix included -- amid a major news story is to over-estimate its impact on the political zeitgeist. And that's especially the case these days, with an increasingly polarized public and an intransigent Congress that can rarely agree on anything.

Perhaps no event has driven this home like the 2012 school shootings in Newtown, Conn.

After 26 died, Democrats and the White House made an all-out push for new gun laws. They wound up focusing on increased background checks -- something polls showed as many as nine in 10 Americans supported (in theory). A few Republican senators even jumped on board. But it failed.

With the two-year anniversary of Newtown this weekend, support for gun control has reached a new low.

A Pew poll shows, for the first time, a majority of Americans prioritize gun rights (52 percent) over gun control (46 percent). As recently as 1999, two-thirds of Americans picked gun control over gun rights. After Newtown, it was 51-46 in favor of gun control.

The progression has been remarkably steady.


Compared to after Newtown, people are also significantly more likely to say the guns protect people rather than endanger them.


While the numbers are striking, this isn't really all that new. Polls have long shown this trend toward gun rights over gun control.

Here's Gallup's version. In 2000, 62 percent wanted stricter gun control. Today, it's 47 percent, and 52 percent either want gun laws kept as their are or scaled back.

Those numbers are essentially the same as Pew's.


You'll notice the blip on Gallup's chart in 2013. That was in the immediate aftermath of Newtown. For a short time, people  wanted more gun control. But it was just a blip, and the underlying currents of the gun issue didn't change.

It's a lesson to be learned as we all confront what's going to happen after the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in Staten Island at the hands of police officers.

Even when Americans are unified in believing that something is worth addressing, it's exceedingly difficult to find consensus on the remedy. And it's pretty rare that the fundamental politics of this country are permanently changed.

Newtown is case in point.