Tag Archives: guns

LAPD Adopts New Policy: De-Escalate First, Shoot Later

Mother Jones

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This is from the LA Times yesterday:

The Los Angeles Police Commission voted Tuesday to require officers to try, whenever possible, to defuse tense encounters before firing their guns — a policy shift that marks a significant milestone in the board’s attempts to curb shootings by police.

Wait. This is new? This hasn’t always been LAPD policy? Apparently not, and apparently not much of anywhere else, either:

As criticism of policing flared across the country, particularly after deadly shootings by officers, law enforcement agencies looked to de-escalation as a way to help restore public trust. Like the LAPD, other departments have emphasized the approach in training and policies.

The Seattle Police Department requires officers to attempt de-escalation strategies, such as trying to calm someone down verbally or calling a mental health unit to the scene. Santa Monica police have similar rules in place, telling officers to try to “slow down, reduce the intensity or stabilize the situation” to minimize the need to use force.

….The focus on de-escalation represents a broader shift in law enforcement, said Samuel Walker, a retired criminal justice professor and expert in police accountability. Now, he said, there’s an understanding that officers can shape how an encounter plays out. “This is absolutely the right thing to do,” he added.

This is especially important in Los Angeles:

African Americans continue to represent a disproportionate number of the people shot at by officers. Nearly a third of the people shot at last year were black — a 7% increase from 2015. Black people make up about 9% of the city’s population but 40% of homicide victims and 43% of violent crime suspects, the report noted.

The LAPD also topped a list of big-city agencies with the highest number of deadly shootings by officers. Police in Los Angeles fatally shot more people than officers in Chicago, New York, Houston and Philadelphia did, the report said. The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department came in second, with 15 deadly shootings.

Go ahead and call me naive, but I would have figured that de-escalation was standard protocol everywhere. Not always followed in practice, of course, but at least theoretically what cops are supposed to do. But apparently not. It sounds like it started to catch on after Ferguson, and is only now being adopted as official policy in a few places.

Better late than never, I suppose, but I wonder what’s stopping this from being universally adopted? What’s the downside?

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LAPD Adopts New Policy: De-Escalate First, Shoot Later

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2 People Are Dead After a Shooting Inside San Bernardino Elementary School

Mother Jones

Two adults have been confirmed dead after a gunman opened fire inside North Park Elementary School in San Bernardino, California Monday. Two students were also injured in the attack.

San Bernardino County Police Chief Jarrod Burguan confirmed the incident on social media, and said that the shooting is being treated as a murder-suicide. According to Burguan, the two injured students have been hospitalized.

This is a breaking news story. We will update when more information becomes available.

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2 People Are Dead After a Shooting Inside San Bernardino Elementary School

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Watch Betsy DeVos Say She’d Allow Guns In Schools "To Protect From Potential Grizzlies”

Mother Jones

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At Tuesday’s confirmation hearing, longtime gun control proponent Sen. Chris Murphy asked Michigan billionaire and Donald Trump’s pick for education secretary Betsy DeVos outright whether guns had any place around schools.

“That’s best left to locales and states to decide,” DeVos responded. When pressed further by Murphy, who represented the district covering Newtown where the nation’s deadliest school shooting took place more than four years ago, DeVos looped back to a question asked earlier by Sen. Mike Enzi of Wyoming about an elementary school in his state. “I would imagine that there’s probably a gun at the school to protect from potential grizzlies,” DeVos noted.

Watch the exchange below.

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Watch Betsy DeVos Say She’d Allow Guns In Schools "To Protect From Potential Grizzlies”

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Multiple People Dead after a Shooting at Fort Lauderdale Airport

Mother Jones

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A shooting at Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood airport on Friday afternoon has left multiple people dead, according to the Broward County Sheriff’s Office. One person is in custody, and local authorities say eight people have been transported to a nearby hospital after sustaining injuries during the attack.

“He was a lone shooter and we have no evidence at this time that he was acting with anyone else,” Broward County commissioner Barbara Sharief told CNN.

Ari Fleischer, the former White House press secretary under George W. Bush, was on the scene and tweeted during the chaos immediately after the gunman first opened fire:

All services from the international airport have been temporarily suspended. President-elect Donald Trump weighed in on the shooting on Twitter:

This is a breaking news event. We will update when more news become available.


Multiple People Dead after a Shooting at Fort Lauderdale Airport

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Who Will Write Us a Syllabus for Sneerology 101?

Mother Jones

Paul Krugman notes today that all of us coastal elites actually do more for the recently famous white working class than Republicans do, but the working class folks still don’t like us because they think we look down on them. He’s a little puzzled about this:

Do the liberals sneer at the Joe Sixpacks? Actually, I’ve never heard it — the people I hang out with do understand that living the way they do takes a lot more money and time than hard-pressed Americans have, and aren’t especially judgmental about lifestyles. But it’s easy to see how the sense that liberals look down on regular folks might arise, and be fanned by right-wing media.

I’m not here to get into a fight with Krugman, but come on. Of course the right-wing media fans the flames of this stuff, but is there really any question that liberal city folks tend to sneer at rural working-class folks? I’m not even talking about stuff like abortion and guns and gay marriage, where we disagree over major points of policy. I’m talking about lifestyle. Krugman talks about fast food, and that’s a decent example. Working class folks like fast food,1 which explains why Donald Trump liked to show pictures of himself eating McDonald’s or KFC. It’s a sign that he’s one of them. Ditto for Trump’s famous trucker hat. (Did you even know that it’s a trucker hat, not a baseball cap? He did.)

If I felt like this was something that actually needs evidence, I could produce a million examples in a very short time. But everyone gets this, don’t they? We sneer at their starchy food. We sneer at their holy-roller megachurches. (But not at black churches; never that.) We sneer at their favorite TV shows. We sneer at their reading habits. We sneer at their guns. We sneer at their double-wides. We sneer at the tchotchkes that litter their houses. We sneer at their supermarket tabloids. We sneer at their music. We sneer at their leisure activities. We sneer at their blunt patriotism. We sneer at—

Again: come on. Maybe you personally don’t do it—though judging from the comments here, a lot of you do—but you hardly need to be an anthropologist to recognize that this kind of sneering shows up on TV, in newspapers, on Twitter, in books, on Facebook, and in private conversations all the time. It’s hard to believe that anyone is really blind to this.

Now, it’s true that they also sneer at us. Fair enough. But as all good liberals know, there’s a big difference between a powerful group sneering at a vulnerable group, and vice versa. The former is a far bigger problem. And we educated city folks are, on average, far richer and more powerful than ruralish working-class folks. Our sneering has a power component that theirs doesn’t. I confess that it’s fun, and I enjoy my share of sneering in private, but I also accept that this attitude has political costs.

Anyway, I’m curious: do you accept this? Is it as obvious to you as it is to me? Or do you think I’m overstating things? Do I really need to make my case in more detail?

1So do I. Except for McDonald’s.

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Who Will Write Us a Syllabus for Sneerology 101?

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IUD Sales Set to Soar After Trump Win

Mother Jones

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After Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, gun shops did a land office business selling firearms to folks who were convinced that Obama was going to take their guns away. Now the shoe is on the other foot:

Since Donald Trump became president-elect, many women in California say they’ve started looking into long-acting, reversible birth control methods, in case access to contraception or abortions is rolled back. Trump has not said he wants to restrict birth control, but he has spoken often of repealing Obamacare, which could have that effect.

Collins said 45 people were ahead of her in line when she called the clinic. “So I was not the only person with that idea,” she said.

Doctors and Planned Parenthood offices across the state report that in the last week an increased number of women have asked about IUDs. The devices are inserted once and some types could even outlast a two-term Trump presidency. Google Trends shows more searches for “IUD” on Nov. 10 than in the previous 90 days.

I suppose there’s no harm in this. Long-acting birth control is generally a good idea, and IUDs are an excellent choice for many women. Still, don’t be like the gun nuts. It’s possible that Trump could take executive action that rolls back birth control to the dark ages of 2013, but that’s about it. And he hasn’t given any indication that he even wants to do that.

Still, IUDs are great! And there’s a chance that a year from now you might have to pay more for them. Might as well get one now, I suppose. Especially if you work for Hobby Lobby.

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IUD Sales Set to Soar After Trump Win

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Even More Proof That Gun Laws Work

Mother Jones

The rates of gun violence in the 10 states with the weakest gun laws are more than 3 times higher than those in the 10 states with the strongest gun laws. That’s one of the major findings of a new report from the Center for American Progress (CAP) that analyzes 10 indicators of firearm violence—including suicide, murder, fatal gun accidents, and mass shootings—in all 50 states and finds a “strong” correlation between gun violence and weak gun laws.

The states with the highest levels of gun violence include Louisiana, Alaska, Mississippi, West Virginia, and Alabama, which also have some of the weakest gun laws in the nation, according to CAP. States with relatively strict gun laws, such as Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, experience significantly lower levels of gun violence. While the report does not assess the impact of specific laws, it does note previous examples of how specific laws have affected gun crime. For example, when Connecticut implemented laws requiring a permit to purchase a gun and mandated background checks, gun-related homicides dropped 40 percent. In contrast, when Missouri eliminated the same requirements, its gun homicide rate increased by 25 percent.

Center for American Progress

“If you have good gun laws, the people in your state will in fact be safer, and if you have bad gun laws, people in your state—and people in other states—will be at risk,” Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy said in a press call about the study. “In many of the cases where violence plays out in Connecticut, we discover that the gun was purchased in a state that had loopholes that we don’t have in our own state.” Since the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre, Connecticut has mandated background checks for all gun sales, required safer gun storage, limited the types of guns that can be sold, and required that all guns in the state be licensed. “In the two completed years that have been analyzed since we passed our updated gun laws, Connecticut has seen the sharpest drop in violent crime of any of the 50 states,” Malloy, a Democrat, said.

Meanwhile, “Florida has taken the exact opposite approach to dealing with gun violence,” said Mayor Andrew Gillum of Tallahassee, Florida. In the same call with reporters, Gillum noted that in response to an attempted mass shooting at a Florida University in 2015, the state legislature introduced a proposal to allow concealed carry on college campuses. He added that the legislature and governor “have taken affirmative steps to prevent local governments like mine from trying to take action” to address gun violence.

Under Florida law, local governments cannot regulate the use of weapons. “In my very own city, we have a gun law that says you can’t fire off weapons in city parks where kids play and our families picnic,” Gillum explained. In response, Tallahassee was sued by pro-gun groups including the Second Amendment Foundation and the National Rifle Association, as well as the state’s attorney general. “It’s extremely frustrating to try to work to keep our communities safe in a state when the legislature is actively working against you, and is beholden unfortunately to the powerful gun lobby,” Gillum said.

The new study builds on a growing body of research that has reached the same conclusion: Stricter gun laws are linked to lower rates of gun violence. The NRA has long rejected these findings. Speaking to the New York Times about the new report and those with similar findings that came before it, an NRA spokeswoman claimed that the research “cherry picked” evidence. As a counterpoint, she cited the work of the controversial researcher John Lott, whose widely discredited theory is summed up in the title of his best-known book: More Guns, Less Crime.

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Even More Proof That Gun Laws Work

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This Is the Craziest Stat About Gun Ownership In America

Mother Jones

Just 3 percent of Americans own nearly half of the nation’s guns. That’s one of the major findings from what researchers are calling the most authoritative survey on guns in more than two decades. According to the Guardian, which received the an advance copy of the survey, “super owners”—some 7.7 million Americans—own between 8 and 140 guns apiece, 17 on average.

In a series of interviews, researchers at Harvard University and Northeastern University found that super owners are made up of firearms instructors, gunsmiths, collectors, competitive shooters, and preppers. Some have separate rooms in their homes to display their collections; others hoard them alongside water, food, and other survival gear in case disaster strikes. Collectively, they own approximately 130 million of the country’s estimated 265 million guns. (Other estimates put the total closer to 350 million.)

As surprising as that may sound, concentrated ownership is common for most products. The Guardian points out that, according to market experts, the most dedicated 20 percent of consumers typically buy up 80 percent of any given product. The survey’s lead author, Deborah Azrael of the Harvard School of Public Health, says that there’s no research stating “whether owning a large number of guns is a greater risk factor than owning a few guns.”

The new data also sheds more light on the shrinking proportion of Americans who own guns, which dropped from 25 percent in 1994 to 22 percent in 2015, when the survey was conducted. A recent Mother Jones investigation into the nation’s 10 biggest gunmakers noted similar findings: While gun ownership is on the decline, gun owners are stockpiling weapons in record numbers, keeping aloft the nearly $8 billion firearms industry.

The full results of the survey are undergoing peer review and will not be published until next fall.


This Is the Craziest Stat About Gun Ownership In America

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Confessions of a Gun Range Worker

Mother Jones

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Editor’s note: Americans today aren’t just stockpiling guns in record numbers; they are also shooting them at upward of 2,100 gun ranges across the country. In February, the pseudonymous author of this piece—a former employee at a gun range in Orange County, California—contacted Mother Jones reporter Josh Harkinson, who interviewed the author and corroborated his account (as told to Harkinson below) through official documents, news reports, and interviews with two other former employees of the gun range. The management and owner of the gun range did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

I’ve worked in the firearms industry for decades, including at a range in Orange County, California. It’s inside an industrial park, in your standard warehouse type of building. People come in and say, “Oh, I never knew this place existed.” Once you check in, there are two entryways and 16 lanes. The lanes are monitored by video cameras, and there are also large double-paned windows, which, it turns out, are not made of bulletproof glass.

I later worked as a contractor at ranges all over the region. I’ve seen a lot. I’ve witnessed multiple suicides. Three rampage shooters practiced at the Orange County range. The general vibe at the ranges has gotten much more extreme and paranoid. I don’t think this is unique to where I worked. The gun industry is really changing for the worse.

I was attracted to guns as a teenager because my family had been victims of violent crime. My dad had been mugged and my family has been held up in their store at least a couple of times at gunpoint. I guess you could say it’s a way of reclaiming some sense of power over a powerless situation.

My first gun was a military surplus bolt-action, a Lee Enfield. The ATF has a category for these things: curio and relic weapons. It was the only gun that at 18 years old I could legally purchase and walk out the door with. It was fully capable of punching through a car or a cinder block. I started buying and fixing up other relic firearms. At the time I was a college student; I’d sell a gun and use the money to pay for my books. I can’t even remember all the guns I’ve owned. That’s part of what attracted me to working at the range. You would see all sorts of different guns come through. I also came to enjoy the camaraderie. In some ways it’s not just a range so much as a gathering place for a certain type of crotchety old man. You sit there on the bench and drink your nasty cup of coffee and trade lies and war stories. For me, it was something that I kind of didn’t have growing up, because my dad wasn’t always there.

But there were certain people who were difficult. At some point during the day, you would have a gun pointed at you. I had a guy with Parkinson’s, and he had severe muscle tremors. He can’t hold the gun properly, and it jams. He walks off the range, he’s pointing the gun at me, and he’s saying, “Hey, hey, my gun is jammed!” I sidestep the muzzle and say, “Let’s have a look, shall we?” All the while that I am handling it I am saying, “You really shouldn’t be doing that.” And the guy, without missing a beat, says, “It’s all right, the safety’s on the gun.” I pull the slide back and there’s a live round that ejects from the chamber. And I’m thinking, okay, I was a three-pound trigger pull away from getting shot.

The ranges make a lot of their money from renting guns to people—those are the people you really have to watch out for. Like the time we rented a Ruger handgun to this woman. After I turned my back to her, she put the gun behind her ear and blew a nice, clean, round hole through the center of her head. I didn’t really feel anything at the time. At first it was disbelief, and then I thought, “Oh, I’ve got to take care of stuff.” Different guys handle it differently. I know a guy who quit right after something like this happened.

Our standard operating procedure when this happens is to call a cease-fire. Then we clear the range so that nobody is in any danger. Then sometimes you’d go up and, if it’s safe to do so, you’d kick the gun out. I still remember this: The manager at the time wound up putting gloves on and plugging the side of her head with his fingers. I’m thinking, “This isn’t going to do a whole lot. She’s toast, dude.” Not to be callous about it, but she was dead. Her eyes were flapping, there was nothing there.

Gun ranges often have policies that require anyone who rents a gun to be accompanied by a friend. It’s supposed to be a way to prevent suicides, but it doesn’t always work very well. Eventually the range started paying a service to come pick up the bodies and scrub everything. But before that happened, Christ, what was it? Bleach and kitty litter. I remember one time I had come in for a shift change and there was a pool of blood. We didn’t have any bleach but we did have some kitty litter. I remember using that to soak up the blood. And because we didn’t have the bleach, some of my members were kind enough to go across the street to the grocery store and buy some. In hindsight, we had no protocols, we had no protective suits. I could have exposed myself to blood-borne pathogens.

Another one was a father who was getting divorced. He was a pretty big guy. I felt the impact, and when I turned around there was pandemonium. Some of my members came rushing out the door yelling at me to call the police, and we did. The guy had sent suicidal text messages to his family. It made the paper because he was a beloved figure in the community, big into Little League. He was totally normal acting. And the next thing you know, you have 300 pounds hitting the floor.

I feel sorry for the families. Anybody who is that depressed for the most part has my sympathy. I do get a little bit irritated that they have to do it while I’m on duty. I think it’s kind of—I don’t know if you’d say inconsiderate—but almost that. You can’t really ask these people, “Hey, if you are going to kill yourself, why don’t you do it out in the desert or something like that?”

Around 2002, a middle-aged guy named Hesham Hadayet came into the range. He’d purchased a gun at a store. He asked me, “Hey, can you show me how to load and operate this gun?” I am thinking, “Wait a minute, didn’t you just take a class?” I’m like, “Fine, not a problem.” I think he came in two or three more times. I didn’t pay any attention to it. Well, a few months later, I turn on the TV and I see this guy’s face. He’d shot up a ticket counter at LAX. He killed two people and injured two more before being fatally shot by a security guard.

The second guy, Phong Thuc Tran, also shot at the range. He worked for the gas company and had been forced to resign. After he killed his supervisor and his co-worker, he was running around for like a day or two before he parked his car in front of a police station. That’s where he shot himself. We only found out about it when the local cops walked in. The guy, he was a little off, but he was very quiet, respectful. No outward signs of anger. You never would’ve known.

The third one, Scott Dekraai, practiced at the range in 2011 and after that he goes on a shooting rampage. He shot nine people at the Salon Meritage hair salon in Seal Beach, including his ex-wife. Only one of them survived.

We talked about them amongst ourselves, but if a member of the shooting public comes in and wants to, we pretty much dummy up. Because who wants to say, “Hey, yeah, there was a mass murderer here at the range?”

There are some good bosses that run these ranges, but for the most part they willingly overlook the fact that this stuff is dangerous. And I’m not just talking about the guns. They’re supposed to properly train people for handling lead, which gets released in large quantities by spent bullets. There’s not really a safe level for lead in your body once you get above five micrograms per deciliter of blood. At the end of the day, you’ve got various things that you have to clean up: the brass shells, paper from the targets, un-burnt powder from the ammunition, little bits of atomized lead. Anything with high enough concentrations of lead is supposed to be put into a canister and treated as hazardous material, but that didn’t always happen.

We’d get tested for lead in our bodies maybe once or twice a year. They would kind of look sideways at you if you asked for the test results. I knew better than that. I just said, “The hell with it.” But the last test that I had, it came back high. I was contacted by the California Department of Public Health, and the guy said, “Uh, why is your lead level so high?”

I started noticing a difference in the type of people coming to the range when Bill Clinton was president. It was the first time I had actually seen somebody post a picture of the president as a target. I told them, “Look, you can’t do that.” Now there’s a company that sells targets with images of Obama, and they put apelike features on him.

You never would have seen something like that 20 years ago when I started. It’s an echo chamber. It’s a place where people feel safe because they feel that people are of like mind. A few months ago, this woman wanted to know about getting her license. I asked her, “What do you need the gun for, if you don’t mind my asking? Was there a crime?” She said, “No, I think there’s going to be an influx of Muslims coming in from our southern border and then they are going to start killing people.” I’ve had people come up to me and say, “I don’t like it that you show these ragheads how to shoot.”

Paranoid? What would you call it when people have six months worth of food? What would you call it when people have 30-plus guns? What would you call it when they are stockpiling ammunition? The gun industry is making a killing, and it’s doing its best to fan the flames. You see stuff in internet gun forums like, “Hey, FEMA is purchasing a million and a half rounds of ammunition.” It’s supposedly because the government is preparing to come around and knock on your door and round you up into camps.

It all plays into people’s paranoid fantasies, and guns are always the solution. They give people a sense of control in a world that is out of control. You go into the NRA convention and look around at the sea of faces— I’m sorry, it’s a bunch of paranoid white guys who see their country slipping away from them. They think people like Trump, or the gun industry, are the “real” Americans. The gun industry could give a rat’s ass. They are laughing all the way to the bank.

I’m leaving the industry to make better money. Dude, I will still be into guns. I like working on ’em. My friends and I still shoot. But the other motivation, just as strong perhaps, is that I don’t want to have to be around a bunch of crazy people.

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Confessions of a Gun Range Worker

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Donald Trump Has Killed Off Support for a Border Wall

Mother Jones

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I’ve been bemused for a while by the support for Donald Trump among hard-core anti-immigrant pundits. Mainly this is because I wonder why they think he’s serious about his wall. Pretty much everything he says and does is a con job of one kind or another, and there’s no real reason to think he’d stick to his guns about the wall if he became president. Instead, since he doesn’t actually care one way or the other about this, he’d probably cut a deal with Paul Ryan for some kind of comprehensive immigration reform—and it would have a far better chance of actually passing than it would if Hillary Clinton proposed it. For the anti-immigrant dead-enders, Trump is likely to be the worst possible choice.

More recently, though, I’ve also begun to think that Trump will be bad for the anti-immigrant crowd even if he loses. For starters, it’s never good to have your signature policy associated with a loser. More to the point, though, we all know that public support for specific policies depends a lot on who they come from. When President Obama supports something, Republicans suddenly hate it. When Trump supports something, people who dislike Trump suddenly hate it. Since Trump is dropping in the polls like a rock, this suggests that support for getting tough on immigrants might be dropping too.

Michael Tesler reports that this is exactly what’s happened:

A number of studies have found that Trump performed best in the primaries among the most anti-immigrant Republicans. But now, in the middle of the general election campaign, Trump is easily the most unpopular major party nominee in modern times. And his historic unpopularity may have also eroded support for the border wall.

The Pew Research Center gauged support for the border fence before and after June 2015, when Trump announced his candidacy. The percentage supporting the border fence was the exact same in 2007, 2011, and 2015: 46 percent. However, that dropped to 36 percent in March 2016.

In CBS/New York Times polls, public support for “building a wall along the US-Mexico border to try to stop illegal immigration” also dropped….The results from the RAND Corp’s Presidential Election Panel Survey (PEPS) are even more telling….The PEPS data reveal who was particularly likely to shift to opposing the border wall: people who did not like Trump in 2015.

….It appears, then, that Trump’s strong support for the border wall has made this policy considerably less popular with the American public.

Supporting Trump was always a high-risk strategy for supporters of a border wall. They put all their money on snake eyes, and it turns out the dice were not their friends.

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Donald Trump Has Killed Off Support for a Border Wall

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