“Americans do have a certain live-and-let-live attitude, and guns are a good illustration,” says Robert Spitzer, author of “The Politics of Gun Control.” “That’s why you’ve never gotten a majority of Americans who favor an outright ban on handguns. That’s not because most Americans own guns, or even handguns, but there is a certain attitude that, ‘Look, I’m not a gun owner, I don’t like guns around, but if someone else wants to own a gun, I’m not going to insist that ought to be somehow restricted.’ There’s sympathy for that brand of libertarianism in American politics; it’s not real libertarianism, it’s libertarian lite.”
Others suggest that the lack of outrage supports Mr. Obama's assertion that the gun lobby lied to Americans about the bill.
“This poll basically validates the NRA’s take-no-prisoner approach, where they lump everything together as antigun, and where this reveals that the public must have, for the most part, bought that – that’s the only way to make sense of that many people being happy with the outcome,” says David Canon, a political scientist at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and co-author of the upcoming book, “The Dysfunctional Congress? The Individual Roots of an Institutional Dilemma.”
“That’s why I see this as more disturbing than a validation, because public opinion did get misled on this with false rhetoric about how people couldn’t give guns to family members without a background check, which was taken out as part of the compromise" bill in the Senate.
Or perhaps the National Rifle Association simply succeeded in making the vote a proxy for the broader issue of gun rights – not the narrower issue of background checks. Pew notes that poll results mirror broader sentiments about gun control, suggesting that Americans may simply not have been paying close attention to the details of the debate.