Majority Oppose Assault Weapons Ban After Historic New York Times Editorial Supporting it

First front page editorial since 1920 backfires

NYT frontpage
Credit: Instagram user @angelahurtmusic
December 11, 2015

A New York Times poll released on Thursday found that a majority of Americans oppose a ban on "assault weapons" in the wake of a New York Times front page editorial championing the idea.

The poll, conducted among 1,275 adults between Dec. 4 and 8, found 50 percent of Americans now oppose a nationwide ban on "assault weapons" while 44 percent favor such a ban. The results represent the first time since the question began being asked in 1995 that more people oppose a ban than support it. Such a ban would outlaw the AR-15, the most popular rifle in the country, as well as other stylistically similar semi-automatic rifles.

A ban on such rifles, and their confiscation, was advocated for in a Dec. 4 editorial by the New York Times editorial board. "Certain kinds of weapons, like the slightly modified combat rifles used in California, and certain kinds of ammunition, must be outlawed for civilian ownership," the editorial said. "It is possible to define those guns in a clear and effective way and, yes, it would require Americans who own those kinds of weapons to give them up for the good of their fellow citizens."

The editorial was the first to be published on the front page of the paper since 1920. The 1920 New York Times editorial lamented the nomination for president of Warren G. Harding by the Republican Party and described it as "the gift of a splendid opportunity" for the Democratic Party. Harding went on to win the election capturing 37 of 48 states and 404 of 531 electoral votes.