More Gun Grist

Austin Ehlinger helps hold a banner during a Guns Across America rally at the state capitol, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013, in Austin, Texas. Texas officials opposed to new federal gun control proposals plan to speak on the steps of the state Capitol during a pro-Second Amendment rally. The event is one of many rallies planned across the country Saturday. They come four days after President Barack Obama unveiled a sweeping plan to curb gun violence. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Another day, another load of grist for the gun debate.

A new Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday shows Pennsylvanians support a variety of gun control measures from background checks to a ban on some weapons and ammo magazines.

Here are the highlights:

  • 95 – 5 percent for requiring background checks for all gun purchases;
  • 60 – 37 percent for a nationwide ban on the sale of assault weapons;
  • 59 – 39 percent for a nationwide ban on the sale of magazines with more than 10 rounds.

But The New York Times on Wednesday reports that Chicago, which bans gun shops, assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, has a gun-violence epidemic that led to more than 500 homicides last year and 40 so far this year.

Gun rights supporters point to Chicago as an example of how strict gun laws don't work. Gun control backers say Chicago is an example of why stricter national -- not just local -- gun laws are needed.

And as the gun debate locks in place in Congress, The Times (a long-time advocate for tougher gun laws) offers an editorial outlining various proposals, explaining how difficult they will be to pass and suggesting the outcome relies on "how demanding the public is for credible action."

All of this sets up a test for democracy, and for the attention span of the public and the political process.

What people say they want from their government is very often very different from what people get from their government.

In Pennsylvania, no matter which political party holds the governor's office or the Legislature, any substantive change in gun laws is an automatic, high-capacity NO.

And in Washington, where the only real interest in Congress is guaranteeing reelection to Congress, any "credible action" will be determined by individual members' reelection prospects, not by broad-based polls and certainly not by editorials.