Poll shows 50 percent don’t want AR-15 restrictions for the first time in 20 years

Just weeks after two Islamic terror suspects gunned down 14 workers at a San Bernardino, California, social services office using AR-15 rifles, a new poll from the New York Times shows a majority of Americans don’t want to ban those types of arms.

The poll comes after the paper printed a front page editorial calling for a so-called “Assault Weapons Ban” on semi-automatic rifles and has increasingly edged toward firearm confiscation after the San Bernardino attack.

“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 New York Times 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.

Despite this, according to the NYT poll, 50 percent of those surveyed said they would not favor a ban on semi-automatic AR-style rifles, the first time in 20 years Americans backed protecting ownership of ARs.

In his Dec. 6 White House address, President Barack Obama called for placing restrictions on semi-automatic rifle sales.

“We also need to make it harder for people to buy powerful assault weapons, like the ones that were used in San Bernardino,” Obama said. “I know there are some who reject any gun-safety measures, but the fact is that our intelligence and law-enforcement agencies, no matter how effective they are, cannot identify every would-be mass shooter, whether that individual was motivated by ISIL or some other hateful ideology.”

The poll also shows that a slight majority of Americans want “stricter” gun laws, with 47 percent calling for less strict or no changes to firearm purchasing rules. But in a trend that’s reflected in other recent polls, only a slim majority of 50 percent think new laws will do any good.

The poll was conducted Dec. 4-8 and surveyed nearly 1,300 Americans nationwide.

The shifting thoughts on gun control and AR-15 rights also tracks with an increasing interest in self-defense and concealed carry rule and regulations. According to Google, search interest in concealed carry and gun rights spiked as much as 70 percent after the San Bernardino shooting.

At the same time, President Obama is reportedly set to implement new rules on person-to-person firearms transfers through executive order.