During his show today, Rush Limbaugh advanced the myth that the public doesn't support gun violence prevention measures. The radio host quoted a 1998 statement by then-Illinois State Senator Barack Obama, who said that “the vast majority of Americans would like to see serious gun control,” and falsely claimed that it was incorrect. In fact, two gun violence prevention measures that Obama has indicated favor for -- the reauthorization of the assault weapons ban and mandatory background checks at gun shows -- are broadly supported by the general public.
RUSH LIMBAUGH, HOST: Here's Obama on gun control in that 1998 tape. I just want to play it for you, because [Washington Post columnist] Colbert King says when I say it, you don't believe it. So here's Obama himself saying it. October 19, 1998, Loyola University.
THEN-STATE SENATOR OBAMA: The vast majority of Americans would like to see serious gun control. It does not pass. Why does it not pass? It does not pass because there is a huge disconnect between what people think and what legislators think and are willing to act upon.
LIMBAUGH: So in Obama's world, the American people wanted gun control but elected officials didn't. And that's why we didn't have it. It's the other way around. Every president -- every Democrat president, Democrat senator, Democrat House of Representatives member, they've all wanted gun control. It's the people that don't want it and never have. Not the kind of gun control these guys are talking about. Anyways, that's Obama. He said it. Not I.
Contrary to Limbaugh's suggestion, the public favors a multitude of legislative proposals to prevent gun violence. A June 2011 Time magazine poll found that 62 percent of Americans supported banning assault weapons, including 61 percent of Independents and 49 percent of Republicans. A January 2011 American ViewPoint/Momentum Analysis poll found that 86 percent of Americans support requiring all gun buyers to undergo a background check when buying a firearm, including those sales conducted at gun shows.
Indeed, in spite of conjecture by some in the media, the majority of Americans support bans on high capacity magazines like the one used in the Aurora theater massacre, limiting the number of guns that can be purchased at one time, a prohibition on gun purchases by individuals on the terrorist watch list, and a requirement for gun owners to notify police if they discover a gun they own has been lost or stolen.